I am convinced that fellow mom friends are as vital to becoming a mother as diapers. They serve a very similar purpose. They keep me from losing my sh#!, help hide the fact that I just peed my pants, and give me a sense of security. I could be a mother without them, but I am a much more put together mother because of them. We share laughter with one another, empathy, tears, wine, coffee, chocolate, prayers, supportive silence, and an unspoken understanding. We are there to talk about and work through motherhood together, and no matter how mundane or redundant a topic may be, mom friends are there to listen and help you through it all.
Among the many topics I have breached with my fellow mom friends is the issue of comments received from strangers in public places. When we are having good mothering days, feeling as though we are rocking this motherhood business, such comments brush past us with ease, but on days when we are doing all we can to hold it together, a stranger’s comments can make being a mother ten times more difficult.
Thus, on behalf of me and so many of my mom-friends, here are five things I would encourage the random stranger to think about before letting a comment fall from their mouth onto a mother’s heart.
1. That mom you see knows what she is doing. She is more than likely a very good mother who knows her baby and what that baby needs. It is nice of you to remind us that maybe they are hungry, or tired, and maybe they are, but we also need to eat and I just need to get through that check-out line so please just smile at me and maybe even help unload the cart.
2. It is never acceptable, at any other point in life, to make shocked comments out loud about someone’s size, why is pregnancy the exception? I am not about to pop, and yes, I am positive that I am not having twins. I am, however going to bring new life into the world soon, so maybe just a simple “congratulations” would suffice.
3. Babies come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. They are all individuals with their own set of talents and unique personalities. If your comment is going to question why a baby looks a certain way, or looks different from their parent, or whether or not they have met a specific milestone, please refrain or swap it out for a compliment. It is so easy for a new mother to be sensitive about their child. We take it all in as a reflection of what we are doing right or wrong, so just know that for us, it isn’t just small talk, especially from a stranger.
4. Thank you for your excitement about our children. We also think he/she is beautiful and perfect in every way, but please, please don’t touch them, or ask if you can hold them. It’s awkward to feel like we are being rude, but we don’t know you, at all, and many of us really want our children to develop a healthy balance of being polite to strangers, and yet knowing how to keep an appropriate distance. We live in a scary world and unfortunately, trusting everyone and anyone is just naïve. Please respect our instinct to protect our children, and don’t be offended when we tell you no. Not to mention, babies put their hands in their mouth all the time, so when you touch our babies’ hands all we can think about is whether or not you have washed yours.
5. We may be overwhelmed, our hands may be full, our toddler may be throwing a tantrum, but we are okay. We are surviving and powering through, and we know that these moments are fleeting. We will miss these days, even though some days all we can do is count down the minutes until bedtime. Children will get upset and voice their feelings loudly, they are learning to work through their emotions, and babies do cry, it’s their main form of communication. Let children be children without judging, and don’t panic if the baby cries. Trust us, don’t doubt us. Empower us, don’t pity us, we got this.
So stranger rather than comment, lets come to a mutual understanding that the diaper is on, all the crap is contained, and if opinions are needed, that’s why mothers have mom friends.