there’s a lot of great posts out there about how not to be rude to pregnant women and parents of young children. and that’s important.
but i see a lot of pregnant women/parents being rude back to society, so i want to lay down some ground rules. feel free to disagree with me, but this needs to be said because the way we parents inflict ourselves and our offspring on other people can be, at the least, irritating, and at the most, hurtful. to non-pregnant people and people without children (either by choice or misfortune or some of both).
and i recognize the irony of getting this lecture from someone with a blog all about the PAINFULLY graphic minutia of my own pregnancies and now the PAINFULLY graphic details of the adorable adorableness of my own child….but y’all signed up to follow me, so tough titties (and they were! see this post)
1. so you got knocked up! well done! now shut up. so here’s the thing, the miracle of life really is, miraculous. incredible. insane. BUT it also happens to most critters. you are merely one of them. you are not the first one, nor the last, and those symptoms you’re experiencing, both good and bad, are not unique to you. you can’t really “win” at pregnancy (unless you can “lose” and i reject that notion right away), so stop trying to compete to be the skinniest, most zenniest, most prepared-iest pregnant person you know. it’s annoying. also, you are not going to enjoy every second of pregnancy, and putting that kind of pressure on yourself is a terrible idea. there are some less fun parts. you’re also not going to hate every second of it. there are some good parts. IN ANY CASE, do NOT feel compelled to talk about everything you are experiencing with everyone you know. pick your audience wisely. while your parents, siblings, bff, and spouse might care that you’re engorged or might want to sit for 40 minutes with their hands pressed under your ribs hoping to feel something that might be a kick or might be indigestion, your boss, other coworkers, most strangers, and financial planners will not. don’t ask. just because you’re obsessed with your changing body and the body that’s changing in yours, doesn’t mean everyone else cares. and you going on and on about it can be painful to people who are dying to be pregnant or who have had upsetting pregnancy experiences. be very mindful of that. don’t take an indulgent smile as encouragement to go on and on.
2. so you got your kid! well done! now shut up. there is this secret that we speak about in hushed voices over wine at adult gatherings. ‘we like our own kids WAY MORE than we like other peoples’ kids.’ there you go. now you know. you’ll be relieved when you have your own that you do enjoy it as much as you do, because, face it, you weren’t 100% enthusiastic about your neighbor’s nasty spawn and you were worried that meant you’re not a baby person. it’s fine. you’ll be over the moon about yours. it’s how it works. BUT your kid will probably be the ‘nasty spawn’ for somebody else. even if he/she is delightful, he/she is still needy and inconvenient and loud and smelly. it’s what they do. so be mindful about sharing boring long stories or videos or endless pictures of every gesture, word, and body product your child emits. they’re probably only interesting to that same list we discussed above (your parents, sibs, bff, spouse). in addition to not monopolizing conversations about the boring details of your baby’s feeding schedule, also make every effort to focus on the adult you’re conversing with, and not to be distracted by the shiny object that is your child. (this one is a personal pet peeve to me. just because now you have kids doesn’t mean you’re a parent and nothing else. what happened to the person(ality) you had before? hello? are you in there? what did we USED to talk about? and unless you’re seeking crucial advice or making me genuinely laugh, why are you bothering me with the inane details of life with your kid that are EXACTLY like the inane details of life with any other kid?) ok. i’m done now.
3. stop whining. this couldn’t be more important. you are pregnant or you have your kid now. there are so many people who would give anything to be in your shoes. of course life with a(n) fetus/newborn/infant/toddler/whatever comes after toddler can get frustrating and stressful now and then, but try hard to focus on the fun you’re having, the blessing you’ve been given. especially when talking to anyone not on that list (parents, sibs, bff, spouse). my little miracle is 98% perfection and 2% maniacal monster. and it’s important i vent about his monstering to the list people who are in the trenches with me, it helps keep me sane….BUT i never complain about his behavior or rough nights or anything to anyone else. it’s not fair. and it’s too easy to fall into a pity party and forget the 98% amazing. which is an excellent rating, by the way.
4. stop gloating. equally important. again, we discussed the fact that you’re not the first pregnant person/parent in the world and, i hate to tell you if you haven’t already lived long enough to conclude this for yourself, but….you’re not that special. i mean, you’re a beautiful child of the universe and God thinks you’re the cat’s meow, but, be gracious and be careful how you go about and to whom you declare your thrill.
5. stop being dramatic. holy crap- sack up. women all over history and all over the world today work in the fields IN THE FIELDS, PEOPLE, through their whole pregnancy. squat to deliver, wrap that thing up, throw it over their shoulder, stopping to breast feed once in a while, and keep on working. same goes for once you have the kid- everything is NOT an emergency, and the world is not actually, in fact, out to get you just because your kid hates cereal. don’t be a princess…or, if you have to, be the new disney princesses that are tough and cool and taking on the world. another pet peeve- all the over-the-top pregnancy huggy belly pics people can’t help themselves from taking. i’ve probably posted these before, but it’s worth a revisit: these ones are the best. but these are also quite good.
6. there really are places inappropriate for children. there just are. anywhere you patronize where you would not be happy if someone walked in with an orangutan and sat down next to you, you should not take your young child. do not take your small person anywhere where a noise or feces explosion would be a major problem for the other guests. it’s just not right. (airplanes maybe are an exception- but go out of your way to be accommodating, generous, apologetic to everyone around you and be uber prepared to feed/entertain your monkey).
7. don’t make assumptions (ass = u + me) about someone’s child-liness. i almost forgot a big one. learn ways to ask someone if they have kids WITHOUT asking if they have kids. if you must ask at all. better to let someone offer it. parents often go bulldozing into a conversation about their own children and then, when they’re done talking about timmy’s orthodontics, they just blatantly ask the person with whom they’re conversing if they, also, have children. it’s not meant to be cruel or anything, but, for a lot of people facing that questions, the answer is…’it’s complicated.’ for people who are struggling to have/keep a pregnancy or adoption, for those who’ve suffered losses, who have determined they can’t or choose not to have kids, who aren’t having kids for health reasons, if they’re not in a relationship conducive to having kids, etc, etc. there are a million reasons someone might not really want to talk about their kid situation, and it feels presumptive and hurtful to be confronted with that question. i’ve been on both awkward sides of this awkward conversation. i remember especially at one Christian women’s conference- i had just had a miscarriage and this lady (who of course had no way of knowing that) talked about her kids and then asked if i have any. i said no, and basically the conversation just died. like we couldn’t possibly connect on any other points if i didn’t have kids or like she couldn’t understand what life choices had brought me to a point where i would be my age and child-less. i felt very judged and very isolated. and i’ve been on the other side where i carelessly asked someone if they have kids and they stammer something about “no…not yet….you know…” and i just want to fall into the floor, i feel so badly that i put them on the spot. i’ve learned to ask “so what family do you have?” or i’ll lead in with my dog- “so i have a little boy and also a greyhound dog- do you have any pets or anything at home?” it’s not perfect, but it might be a little better.
ok. i feel better. this has long been brewing. comment if you think i’m right/wrong/evil or if you want to add any or discuss any points.