Jamie Kenney

Side-Eye Worthy Things Said To Me After Childbirth

I like to think all of the side-eye worthy things people said to me after my baby was born were said because everyone was so disarmed by adoration and joy in the presence of my babies. Like, their filters completely disappeared because they were focusing too much mental and existential energy on not exploding in a burst of fawning squeals and glitter. Really though, I know it's because people can be sort of clueless and tacky and they just don't think before speaking.

Fortunately, I'm someone with a pretty sturdy and resilient disposition. I usually don't allow other people's weird presumptions to bring me down. Instead, I turn to my old friend, Cold Silent Judgment. Cold Silent Judgment and I have been really good friends since high school, and she's gotten me through a lot. She doesn't come out for her own personal satisfaction: she's generally pretty content to sit quietly by herself and let everyone just sort of do her thing. Still, every now and then, someone will wander into her periphery and say something so absurdly ridiculous that it piques her interest. At which point, she slinks out of her corner and manifests in me the only way she knows how...

Side-eye. Strong, icy side-eye.

Truthfully, Cold Silent Judgment has gotten quieter since I became a mother, which says a lot, because not too much about me has changed since popping out a couple of kids. Honestly it's hard to judge when you've been so humbled by living with a beloved tiny dictator and you realize that people sometimes just do what they have to do to get by in life and do not deserve judgment.

Sometimes, however, she can't help herself and she crawls out of hibernation, kind of like when she heard the following:

"You'll Never Wear A Bikini Again"

This was in response to the fact that I had a c-section and, as a result, a c-section scar. My response to this was threefold...

1) Bish, I'll wear whatever the hell I want;

2) Bish, you can't even see my c-section scar in a bikini, so your point is moot;

3) Bish, why are you even thinking about this?

Are we seriously, in 2017, still carting around the idea that only women with a certain body type are allowed to wear a bikini? I'm pretty sure their are neither federal or state laws mandating a set of arbitrary dimensions, nor are there safety hazards related to seeing a fat/scarred/wrinkly/disabled/whatever person in a bikini. So save it, person with backwards ideas about what is and is not allowed.

"You Didn't Really Give Birth"

It was said as a joke, but it definitely received a hefty dose of side-eye from me. Because c-sections can be really awful for some people and a source of sadness and frustration. It wasn't for me, but it easily could have been. The idea of hearing I didn't actually birth my child, even as a joke, would have been tremendously hurtful.

"How Busted Up Is Your Vag?"

Ummm... wow. OK. So, dear reader, a good rule of thumb in basically all areas of life is this: unless you are a doctor and the person you are talking to is a patient visiting you for an appointment, do not ask them questions about their genitals. As I tell my children, "That's a private area."

Also, word to the wise: do not ask questions you are not ready to hear the answers to. Things can get downright horrifying down there and your friend may well have it within their power to haunt your dreams forever.

"Did You Get 'The Extra Stitch?'"

OMG! What a horrifying concept, from both feminist and medical standpoints! (Also from the standpoint of how vaginas work an "extra-stitch" in the vaginal opening would tighten the vagina the way making a shirt collar smaller would tighten the entirety of a shirt, which is to say not at all.)

Side-eye. All the side-eye.

For one, see the above rule about not discussing other people's vaginas unprompted or outside of a medical setting. For another, please stop trying to make this really awful concept a thing.

"Your First Child Is Probably Sad, Huh?"

My child adapting to life with a new sibling was a tremendous source of anxiety for me. In fact, more so than just about everything else that comes along with having a new baby. So, hearing that he was "probably sad" (with literally nothing to back that, by the way: additional side-eye) was basically like saying, "You're hurting your child and failing as a parent."

A thoughtful alternative to this question would be, "How is your child responding to their new sibling?" It starts the same conversation without making anyone feel insecure or nervous.

"You're Never Going To Have Fun Ever Again"

Not if we keep having discussions, because you are the worst.

But as for being a parent meaning I'm not going to have fun anymore, my kids are actually a lot of fun. Plus, there are these magical people called "babysitters" and if you give them money they will watch your children from time to time. So, your assumption is false on every level.

"I Bet You Don't Love Your Cat Anymore"

Jamie Kenney

My building's super said this to me when my first was born and at first it was hurtful, like, "Oh no! My poor kitty thinks I don't love him anymore!" But it pretty quickly morphed into side-eye. Like "Wait, why would he even think to say that? Who just stops loving their pet after their baby is born? What a weird-ass thing to say."

I did not stop loving my cat, for the record. He stopped loving me for a little while, since the baby took his spot in bed, but he got over it (as you can see above).

"You're Going To Spoil Them"

I got this a few times with both my children, mostly from older people (or younger people who had only ever heard about parenting from older people) and I didn't even try to play it diplomatically by masking my side-eye. "You can't spoil an infant," I would tell them. I also found it funny that these would also be the same people who would tell me to "treasure every minute" and "take advantage of the cuddly stage while you can." Well, which is it?

"You Know What You Have To Do..."

If the rest of the sentence is not "feed, clothe, and love your baby," it usually gets side-eye. Even if the advice is good, framing that advice as something I have to do just tends not to go over that well.

Assuming Being A Mom Had Fundamentally Changed Me

So I got my hair cut after I had my first child into something I'd wanted for a few years: a chic and adorable pixie cut. When I revealed my new do on social media (because did it even happen if you didn't share it on social media, you guys?), basically everyone made some joke about "the mom chop" or "mom hair" or "the mom-ing is complete."

Except no. My haircut had nothing to do with my being a mom. I'd always wanted this haircut, so I went for it. Sadly, however, it wasn't just my haircut. Suddenly so much of personality, actions, and decisions were presumed to be based on my new mom status, even though I basically didn't change at all after having a kid. People just presumed or perceived me differently sometimes because of their ideas of what it means to be a mom.

"Well We Never Did That When I Had Kids..."

But I know for a fact you used to send your kids down to the corner store to buy you cigarettes. Maybe let's not go down this road because Memory Lane isn't quite as sunny as you remember it.

"When Are You Going To Start Working On Getting Your Body Back?"

Did it go somewhere? I feel like it's all right here.

I am under no obligation to look a particular way for anyone. Maybe I have no interest in losing the weight I gained during pregnancy. Maybe I'm desperate to and want to start ASAP. But it's really no one else's place to suggest this is something I should be concerned about.

"When Are You Going To Have Another?"

All. The. Side. Eye.

This is a pretty uncouth thing to say at literally any point, but shortly after I've given birth? Back up with that noise. My uterus is still sloughing off the remains of this last pregnancy. Give me a damn minute, jeez.