A friend of mine recently had her first child, and as I was looking at the picture of the new parents - the radiant new mom, the somewhat rumpled and exhausted yet beaming new dad, the little peanut in the middle of the two of them, I started reading some of the comments. Most of them were the usual "Congrats! She's beautiful!" sort of comment, the type of comment I myself commonly write on that occasion. But there were a few that sort of...irked me.
Now, let's get this part out of the way. I realize that most (some) people ARE well meaning, even if their comments are perceived incorrectly. But still. There are some things you should probably just keep to yourself when talking to a new mom (or dad). Here are my top "Keep
Your Mouth Shut It To Yourself" Comments for New Parents.
1. "Enjoy every second because it goes by so fast you won't believe it!"
Oh really? This person literally JUST HAD THIS BABY and you want to remind them how fleeting it is? You don't maybe, oh I don't know, want to let them just enjoy this moment in time without having to be faced with that idea that this time is short? And since when did you get appointed as Father Time? Were you that concerned that maybe they did not realize how short one year was and needed to be educated? Good thing you jumped in there to remind them.
Another aspect of this is the "Enjoy every second" part. There are PLENTY of things new moms don't need to enjoy. Like if they have a big old c-section scar and recovery, or mastitis, or the sleep deprivation, or feeling exhausted, I can go on and on. And new moms don't need the pressure of having to appreciate every last single second of new motherhood, nor do they need the guilt if they are not enjoying everything. Maybe they are having a tough time, maybe they are having some difficulties. Pointing out that they should be cherishing each moment isn't the most supportive thing to say.
2. "Say goodbye to sleep for the next 18 years".
Oh I love this one. I forgot that all children sleep like infants till they are out of the house, is that what you're saying? I have three kids, one of which isn't two yet, and I sleep LIKE A LOG. All night long. Sure, we have nights when there is a bed wetting incident, a bad dream, night terrors, puking. No doubt. But, for the most part, the sleep thing is really only for the first few months. After that it gets easier, I swear. Now, if you are going to argue with me that it means you will worry about them, sure. And you will ALWAYS worry about them (maybe even more when they are in college or out of the house after 18). But don't think for a second that you will never have a good night's sleep again, because that is just baloney.
3. "They always say if your first was good the second (or third, fourth, whatever successive child you have) will be a terror".
Gee thanks for negatively diagnosing my child's entire temperament and personality immediately! You must be an expert on parenting! Oh wait you're not? Then keep your nonsense comment to yourself, k?
4. "It took 9 months to put the weight on, it will take 9 months to take it all off".
How about this, how about we just don't comment on any sort of time frame for "losing the baby weight"? Let's just get rid of that whole thing. ESPECIALLY right after giving birth. Let me tell you something, your body will be different after having a baby. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. Your body MADE A HUMAN, it's going to look different. But the important part is that you, and your baby, are both healthy. Even though some women's magazines might want to shove the whole "baby weight" conundrum down our throats, let's at least try to pay it no mind. You might think that you are making someone feel better by saying that 9 months thing, but what if they haven't lost the weight they thought they would by 9 months? Then they are a failure at that? Just skip it. Totally.
5. "Are you breastfeeding?"
Why do you care? No, seriously, why do you care how someone else is feeding their baby? I'm honestly curious. I have seen and heard this question asked of new moms a thousand times, myself being on the receiving end of it more times than I can count, and I don't mean only by medical professionals wanting to get an accurate assessment of my child's health. I mean by like random people just wanting to know. If anyone feels like sharing how they are feeding their baby, why don't you just let them tell you. If they don't want to share, guess what? They probably won't. I say this because if they aren't breastfeeding, they might have mixed feelings on it, and they might not want to share those feelings with you. They might think you are going to be judgmental if they aren't breastfeeding, or if they are struggling with it. If you are good friends, trust me, they will tell you what they want you to know. If you are not good friends, refer to my first question above.
6. "Do you think you're going to have more?"
Seriously? This question, although it does really tick me off, is most irritating when it is asked RIGHT after the baby is born. Can we not just talk about the brand new one they JUST HAD?! This happened to me SO MANY TIMES. After Finn was born, "So do you think you want to have a girl?". After Levy was born, "Now you have one of each, do you think you want more?". After Jack was born, "So are you done now?". COME ON. If you are really that interested in my reproductive plans, I'll keep you updated with a special newsletter. Thanks for the intrusiveness though! And again, maybe try to focus on the baby that was just born. That might be the more appropriate path to travel on.
7. "The baby doesn't look like either of you!"
Same goes for "doesn't look like you" or saying the baby doesn't look like the father. Just keep it to yourself. I once saw someone had commented, as a joke, that the new mom should "Get a paternity test" because the new baby looked so much like her and not at all like the father. OMG so funny! Making a paternity test joke about a newborn! So hilarious.
8. "When are you going back to work?"
Unless you work with this person and it is imperative that you need to know the exact date when they are returning to work, why do you need to know? The new mom might have mixed feelings about returning to work, and maybe, just maybe, they don't want to get into that with you. After Finn was born I decided that instead of coming back after maternity leave I was just going to quit and stay home with him, but it wasn't something I wanted to discuss with everyone, especially when I was going through the process of making that decision. It's not a need to know thing for anyone, so just leave that question out of the mix. This also goes for telling any working moms how much they need to cherish the time they have with the baby before they go back to work. That simply is not helpful, or kind.
9. "Oh he (or she) is so tiny! When mine was born she was twice his size!"
This also goes the other way. Don't compare baby sizes, just don't. It's really irritating, and some people do it all the time, like up until their kids are choosing colleges. Guess what? People come in all shapes and sizes, including babies, so maybe if MY baby is smaller than YOUR baby that does not necessarily mean, well, anything. It doesn't mean they aren't eating well, or that they aren't as healthy, or anything. It's my pediatrician's job to tell me if something is up, not yours.
10. "We never used a pacifier (bottle, stroller, etc.) because..."
Well goody for you! Thanks for participating in my poll of how EVERYONE ELSE PARENTS. Oh wait, that's right, I didn't ask. We all parent differently, and you know what? If my baby is using a pacifier, chances are preeeeeeety good that it was ME who decided to have them do that. So you making a comment on it is just you being judgmental for no reason. It's not like I'm going to say "OMG that pacifier just fell into her mouth, holy cow! Thank god you pointed out how bad they are or I never would have KNOWN!".
This particular comment also falls under the category of "Mommyjacking". What is Mommyjacking, you ask? Mommyjacking comes from STFU Parents (which I ADORE), and is the practice of hijacking another mom's facebook feed to talk about your own kids. You want to talk about your own birth story? Take it somewhere else lady. There is a time and a place for sharing your stories with each other, and there is a time and a place for just shutting your mouth and saying something nice, and sweet, and supportive for a new mom. Sometimes some of us need a moment to differentiate between those two places and times, that's fine. But just as a heads up, when you are congratulating someone on their new baby, it's safe to say you can just make it about them and that baby. Chances are they aren't super interested in your birth story at that time and place. Just FYI.