I’m sure you’ve had conversations very similar to the one listed below:
“How’re you doing with the new baby?”
“Oh, good! A little tired, but good. She’s wonderful.” Insert smiley face here.
Move on to something not baby related before someone finds out the truth.
For some reason, Moms feel as though they need to keep up appearances- especially new moms, and particularly when they are around other Mothers. It’s as though we can’t admit how difficult, terrifying, hilarious, isolating, infuriating, rewarding this thing called Motherhood is to someone else for fear that they have never experienced what we have, had the same thoughts or struggles. That’s just ridiculous. We should all be forthright about the fact that our guest room is now where we throw all the dirty laundry because we can’t keep up with all the burp cloths. However, since honesty takes work, it may be a while before a friend will admit to you willingly that she drives around for 3 hours every night at 2 p.m. to get her kid to go back to sleep. So, I’m going to debunk some Mommy code this morning so we can cut through the crap, and get to the heart of the matter.
You ask: “How is she sleeping at night?”
She answers: “She’s doing ok, still wakes up a few times during the night.”
What she really means: “She’s awake every other hour, and I feel like I’m going to die everyday from exhaustion and excessive caffeine consumption.”
You ask, “Have you tried letting her cry it out?”
She replies: “Yes, it just doesn’t seem to work for our family.”
What she really means: “Of course I have. Idiot. For weeks at a time. She gets herself so worked up that for hours into the night she throws up, punches herself in the head, and will on occasion, pull her hair out. I will never do it again. It breaks my heart, and though I am more exhausted than I ever knew possible, I refuse to do that to her. So back off.”
You ask “Have you read such and such a book on child rearing/sleeping/eating?”
She answers: “No, not yet.”
What she really means: “I don’t have time to read the back of the cereal box. When am I going to read a book?”
You ask, “Is she a good eater?”
She replies: “Yes, she eats a variety of things.”
What she really means is,” Yeah, she’ll eat macaroni and cheese, cheerios and graham crackers. That’s a variety, right?”
You say: “These are the best years! They go by so quickly. Enjoy them!”
She nods in response.
What she really means, “THESE are the best years? I’m covered in puke, I wake up in a cold sweat wondering if she’s still breathing, then I cry when she wakes up, I can’t go anywhere around nap time, my morning television is now Sid the Science Kid, and she never even says thank you or shows any sign of appreciation. ”
You say:”She’s so beautiful!”
She replies, “Thank you.”
What she really means is: ” I know, right? She’s the most beautiful baby in the world. She really is. I was nervous that I would be biased because she’s my own kid, but I’ve seen all the babies out there, and she really is the most beautiful. So glad I’m not the only one who knows.”
You ask: “Is she walking yet?”
She replies, “She’s taken a few steps.”
What she really means is: “She’s taken a few steps…holding onto my finger. Should she be walking by now? Are other kids walking by now? Is she behind the benchmark? What the hell’s a benchmark anyway? Why isn’t she walking? Is there a book on it that I won’t have time to read?”
You ask: “Wanna go for lunch? We can take the baby with us!”
She answers, “Sure. It’ll be fun.”
What she really means is: “Crap. Am I going to have to breastfeed in public? I can’t ever keep that blanket thing on right. And what if the waiter comes just as I’m trying to get adjusted? How awkward is that? What if she cries the whole time and I’ll have to walk her around while you sit by yourself and eat a salad? What if the person who sat in the booth before us had a cold? Or pneumonia? Or tuberculosis? And they didn’t wash it down properly? What if there’s no changing table in the bathroom? And she poops through her clothes? Can’t we just order in?”
You ask: “How are you feeling?”
She replies: “Fine.”
What she really means:” Like a paranoid, bi-polar, controlling, over-whelmed, excitable, exhausted, moody, moody woman.”
You ask,” Isn’t Motherhood wonderful?”
She smiles and answers, “Yes.”
What she really means is: “Yes.”
These are only a few, but you get the point. The next time you ask a young Mom how she’s doing, don’t let her get away with one word answers. There aren’t enough words to cover how we feel in a given day, but help her to try.
A little suggestion, start with how beautiful her kid is first.