7 things you only say before you become a parent
Posted July 11, 2016
Becoming a parent is a huge transition, and your new mom friends are dealing with more than you realize. There are several things that just don’t make sense to us before we have kids but become perfectly clear when we do. If you’re at that stage where your friends are having babies, but you’re not quite there yet, you may want to think twice before you say any of the following.
"Why does she think her baby is so interesting?"
There may be over 350,000 babies born each day, but to a new mom it always feels like her baby is some kind of miracle. If you don’t have children of your own, you may think all babies are cute (you’re right), but none of them do anything particularly interesting (right again). So why are parents posting pictures of babies not doing anything all over social media and reporting on every almost-smile and gurgle?
It’s because, to them, their baby is interesting. There’s no logic to it, but other moms are tolerant of it, because they know how it feels. People who have yet to experience parenthood are understandably baffled.
"I’d be fine with sleepless nights. I don’t sleep much anyway"
You may think you don’t sleep well, and maybe you don’t. It’s estimated that 45% of Americans are sleep deprived. General sleep deprivation and newborn fuelled sleep deprivation are two very different things, though. Waking in the night and being able to stay warm and rested in bed is very different from having to get up, change diapers, feed, pace and change the bedding your baby just threw up on, again.
"I don’t know why they had that baby if they were just going to break up"
Most marriages hit a rocky patch during the adjustment to parenthood, and sadly this can lead to separation and even divorce. Before you judge, consider how your own marriage or relationship would fare if you were both dealing with no sleep, no social life, no money, no sex and no respite. I used to judge people who even considered divorce once they had a child. Now I sympathize, empathize and offer to babysit.
"Look at him changing a diaper. He’s such a good dad"
Even the most egalitarian people are sometimes guilty of this. I’m pretty sure I did it before becoming a mom. We give kudos to the man for being involved in the day-to-day care of his own child and don’t even notice when the mom does it. There’s still a lot of inequality in parenting, and some dads may take on (a lot) less than 50% of the parenting chores, yet we praise them when they do. Be aware that when you say this, the mom may well have changed the last 100 (or even 1,000 diapers) without anyone commenting what a good mom she is.
"Why can’t she just come out for the evening?"
Your new mom friends want to spend time with you, but everything has changed. It’s not as simple as getting a babysitter. It’s finding the energy and motivation. It’s staying awake past 9 p.m. It’s pumping milk before you leave and then leaking milk down the front of your shirt once you’re out. It’s worrying your baby isn’t settling, or your husband is resentful you left him to hold the fort. It’s feeling hormonal and weepy. It’s knowing you (still) can’t fit into anything but sweatpants and maternity clothes. It’s having nothing but your baby to talk about and thinking you’ll bore people. It’s worrying you’ll start missing your carefree, pre-baby life. Sometimes it’s easier to just stay home.
"I bet you’re never bored"
There are the disinterested, not-ready-for-kids, I-just-don’t-get-it kind of friends. Then there are the friends who think babies are wonderful and adorable and your life must be the best it’s ever been now you have a child.
It’s true that moms think their babies are much more interesting than they are, but at the same time, mothering a newborn can be really boring. You get bored of the dirty diapers, endless feeds and sleepless nights. You get bored of not being able to leave the house without a bag full of baby paraphernalia and you get bored of constantly juggling strollers, car seats and baby carriers. There are plenty of moments of boredom. Babies aren’t some form of delightful, full-time entertainment. They’re a big responsibility and a whole lot of work.
"How hard can it be?"
Honestly? Very. Harder than we imagined, that’s for sure. That doesn’t mean we don’t love our babies or that we regret having them. It just means we’re struggling to adjust, and we’re grateful for every ounce of tact and understanding you can offer.
Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website http://www.karenbanes.com/.or via Twitter where she tweets as @KarenBanes.