“Well enjoy sleeping now! You’ll miss it soon.”
“Better go out to eat while you still can!”
If you’re currently or have ever been pregnant, these “warnings” sounds all too familiar. And sadly, it doesn’t stop when the baby is born.
“Just wait until she starts walking.”
“Yeah, but then it gets really hard when he start talking back to you.”
“Try going on that trip with two kids.”
“Well enjoy it now, because if you have three that will basically be impossible.”
This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. Sometimes I like to imagine my Grandma, Googie, who had 7 children, sitting at her suburban New Jersey playground circa 1965 next to a smug octomom who was like “Janet, please. You think seven is hard? Wait until you have EIGHT.”
Now, do I think your friends and acquaintances are actually TRYING to scare you? In most cases, no. Let me put on my unqualified psychologist hat and suggest that…..being a Mom is hard. I think when other Moms offer you their unsolicited “warnings”, they’re doing it because they don’t want to feel alone. They hope and want to believe that what is tough for them is tough for other Moms, and they’re looking for a sense of comradery. The problem is that it’s misplaced.
While I would venture to say that being a Mom is hard for everyone, it’s hard for everything in very different ways. I was told roughly 100 times a day in my 3rd trimester that I needed to go out to dinner because I never would again. Which terrified me. My husband and I LOVE eating out. Guess what? We go out to dinner with Teddy all the time and it’s completely fine. However, Teddy was born a month early under scary circumstances and spent 2 weeks in the NICU. It was an incredibly traumatic experience for me, one that I am still dealing with over a year later. No one warned me about that, because it wasn’t something that had been hard for them.
Moms loooooove to say “every baby is different”, but I don’t think we spend enough time acknowledging that every MOM is different too. We aren’t given our special unique snowflake babies with the exact same set of experiences, expectations, priorities, temperaments, support and resources to raise our kids.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t be giving advice to other Moms (I mean look at me preaching to you right now), but let’s make an effort to curb the unsolicited drive-bys. If your friend with an infant asks what was your hardest part about returning to work after maternity leave, by all means tell her if you sobbed in the lactation room for a week – she wants to know. But the next time a pregnant friend tells you she’s nervous about having her new baby, let’s save the scary story about colic to commiserate with your Mom friend who already has a baby with colic.
Instead, how about you “warn” her that her life is about to change in the most unique and amazing way. That she will fall in love with someone she’s never met, and that that love with grow every day, in a way that’s hard to describe. Warn her that she’ll sneak into her daughter’s room and watch her sleep, that she’ll get the urge to wake her up, even if it took so long to get her down. Warn her that she’ll think her newborn son is the most beautiful child on earth, even if years later everyone agrees he kinda looked like a martian. Warn her that she will love so much it almost hurts, and that her heart will expand with each new baby just as big as the first. Warn her in the tough times that this too shall pass. Be the one who cheers her on through each new stage of motherhood, instead of trying to “prepare” her for the worst. Be the Mom you want to cheer YOU on – because we all need that Mom.