It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was perusing the aisles at Duane Reade. I had one purchase in mind, a pregnancy test. I brought my item to the cashier to purchase. She noticed what I was holding in my right hand and said
“Oh! Are you excited?”
I clutched the E.P.T test
“Yes,” I replied
“You got kids?” She asked with a smile
“No.” I replied.
“That’s ‘cause you don’t got kids.” she said and began laughing uproariously. It turned out I was, in fact, pregnant. Nine months later I delivered my son.
Adjusting to motherhood has been tough. But tougher still was finding out that the other people in my life could not understand that I was now a mom. I have compiled a short list of unhelpful questions and comments that people have offered me, post child.
1.“Why is your house so dirty? Can’t you clean when the baby is napping?”
My house does not look like “Martha Stewart’s Living” because I am busy caring for a child 24 hours a day. As far as cleaning when the baby is napping the first issue there is that the baby refuses to nap. Perhaps you could come to my house and force my child to sleep? And then I could clean so that my house would be more aesthetically pleasing to you.
2. “Why don’t you come out with us?”
When you have a baby you relish any free time you can get. Now, the use of the word “free” here is relative. When my son goes to sleep at 7:00pm I can’t go have a night on the town, go to the movies, even go out for coffee. I have to sit in my apartment and wait just in case he decides to wake up spontaneously and needs something. So my “free” time is watching TV or looking on the internet for celebrity gossip by myself in my pajamas. Somehow this has escaped my friends and family and they continue to invite me out to dinner, the movies and various events that fall after dark that I obviously cannot attend.
3. “How can you let him cry when he goes to sleep? Why are you still breastfeeding? Can’t you give him formula? He’s really fat.”
News flash everyone: babies cry. Or didn’t you get the memo? Sometimes they cry when they are trying to get to sleep too. I am still breastfeeding because women have been doing it for centuries and my son still accepts the milk that my body is making especially for him. I could give him formula ignoring all the wonderful immune system benefits that breastfeeding offers, but what good would that do? As far as his “obesity” is concerned, that baby fat will come right off once he starts walking. And if you think he is packing on the pounds perhaps you should look in the mirror and recall the last Weight Watchers meeting you attended. When it comes to raising my child, please keep your opinions to yourself. He has survived this long without your pearls of wisdom; I think I am doing wonderfully without you.
4. “I, your friend, would like to recommend an impossible alternative.”
Maybe you need a day to yourself without the baby? Why don’t you ask your husband to take the day off so you can go on a yoga retreat? Why don’t you take a nice warm bath or a nap? These are just a few impossible solutions that your friends might earnestly offer to ease your pain as a new mom. They mean well, but they are ridiculous and unachievable because you have a child who is totally dependent on you.
I have learned a special kind of patience with these folk. If and when they do decide to have children, I will not be insensitive and offer them unattainable solutions to their problems. Nor will I instruct them on them how to raise their youth. But rather I will lend a sympathetic ear, having been there myself. I have realized one major thing when it comes to the childless people in my life. They cannot offer adequate advice and (in the words of the Duane Reade cashier) “That’s cause they don’t got kids.”