What Not To Say When You Are A Mom

Found here.

As you navigate your way through motherhood you may find that there are a shocking number of topics that inspire the ire of others.  No longer are religion, politics, and money the only off limits topics- parenthood has added a whole  host of others.

And so, to avoid you pain and suffering, I have compiled a short list, each containing:

1) What we say
2) What we are thinking, and 
3) What other people sometimes assume we are thinking.  


What not to say while pregnant:

"I am planning a natural birth!"

What you are thinking:

"I am going crazy reading and studying about birth!  I am taking a birth class and I am planning a natural birth!  I am a little scared and a little excited and kind of nervous but I just want to talk to other people about this!"

What people hear:

"I am planning a natural birth.  Therefore, if you didn't have a natural birth, I think I am better than you.  YOU SUCK!"

I am not kidding.  Few things inspire the hatred or mocking of other like a declaration of a planned natural birth.  

What not to say:
"I am planning on breastfeeding."

What you are thinking:

"I am planning on breastfeeding."

What people hear:

"I am planning on breastfeeding and if you gave your baby an ounce of formula then you are a devil woman!!!!"

How we feed our babies can somehow be an accusation of worthiness as a mother, as the recent TIME article has so aptly illustrated.  

 What not to say when you have a baby:

"I am SO tired!"

What you are thinking:

"I am so tired and overwhelmed.  I had no idea that motherhood would be like this.  I need help but I don't want to ask for it.  Why does it seem like everybody else is rested and skinny right now?"

What people hear:

"I am so tired.  Please tell me what I am doing wrong.  I want your advice and instruction on (depending on your friend) A) how to sleep train, or B) why I should/shouldn't be co-sleeping, or C) what I am doing wrong.  And if you have time, please tell me how much better your children were."

My only advice- be careful who you complain to.  Choose people who "get it" and can give good advice or helpful service.

What not to say after birth:
"I had a natural birth!"

What you are thinking:

"I had a natural birth!  It was the best day of my life.  It was hard but wonderful and I want people to know that they can do it too!  I want other moms to feel this confident!"

What people hear:

"I had a natural birth.  I did it because I know more than you.  If your birth experience was not natural then you are inferior."

I still totally talk about natural birth.  I assume my friends know that though I have a wicked mind sometimes, it isn't usually directed at them.  

What not to say:

"I am a stay at home mom."

What you are thinking:

"I am a stay at home mom.  I love it but it does sometimes make me want to curl into a fetal position and cry for lack of adult contact.  Please don't think I am lazy."

What people hear:

"I stay home with my kids because I love them more than other people.  Everybody who has kids and works is greedy and selfish."

Is it just me, or does it feel like you can't say anything anymore?

What not to say:

"I have kids and I work for pay outside my home."

What you are thinking:

"I am a working mom.  I love it but sometimes it is hard and I miss my kids.  Plus, I still clean the house all the time and curling into the fetal position and weeping sounds good every once in a while."

What people hear:

"I am a working mom.  If you stay home with your kids you must be lazy or rich.  Shame on you!  Bad feminist!"
News flash everybody- WE ALL HAVE STRUGGLES!!!!  Even if we work for pay, even if we stay at home.  We all have struggles.  We all need friends and we can no longer divide ourselves into mom "cliques" like in high school.  Remember when your friends had to listen to Jimi Hendrix or you couldn't be friends with them anymore?  It isn't like that any more.  We can't/shouldn't only like people who birth like us, parent like us, or think like us.  

I wish we could all just TALK and really LISTEN and HEAR one another rather than inserting our own worries into the words of another.  Of COURSE we all have cruel and judgmental thoughts.  We still need each other.  We learn and we grow and we get humiliated and humbled along the way.  Life does that- we don't need anybody else to do it for us.  

Life is too short miss out on all the friendships we could be having.

(Disclaimer- I realize I am not actually psychic.  My husband has mentioned this once or twice. The point is I hope we stop reading into people's words so much and stop taking offense.  Just in case you wanted me to spell it out. )


Mrs. H said…
Ha!! This is epic. I am so glad you posted this ... it brings some pleasant humor to what sometimes can be a very irksome situation! It does feel, at times, like anything you say about parenting inflames an emotional and excitable response, and at times it seems safer and easier to just keep my mouth shut. Yikes!
Unknown said…
LOVE this! Totally agree.
Linda Peterson said…
Ohhhh man, I hear you, especially about daring to say you are tired. I am so sick of being told what perfect angel sleepers people's sleep-trained children are and how I really wouldn't have these problems if I didn't co-sleep. That's been a big one in my recent life.
Anonymous said…
Isn't it sad that this is even an issue? Isn't it sad that mothers are so judgemental of each other and that we feel like we need to watch what we say for fear of upsetting someone... or we do things like I do when asked how I gave birth... explain that I had a natural birth and then follow that up with a quick "but it doesn't really matter how bubs arrived does it?" like I should be ashamed of the fact that my body was capable of doing what it should (in this instance anyway) and while I have no issue with how a baby is born as long as it comes into this world happy and healthy and mum is happy and healthy... In a very garbled and round about way I am trying to say that I don't understand why as mothers we can't just be supportive of each other as we all do what we believe is to be the best thing in the long run?
Callie said…
Awesomely true. (Hey i don't like your centering!! ahh~~! It's driving me nuts. You could do a little to the left..a little center.. some more to the left...think about it?)
Arlington Girl said…
What a great post. Refreshing and honest. Thanks.
Miranda said…
You should add to this list:
I want a homebirth!
and also:
I wanted a HBAC, but ended up with a c-section. I cannot count how many times I was told "at least you have a healthy baby!", made to feel like I am ungrateful and selfish, and also why would I want to have a baby naturally anyway? It HURTS (unlike those easy breezy cesareans! *sarcasm*)!! I've even been told TWICE by TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE (both family too!) that they KNEW I'd have another cesarean, despite having planned a home water birth. If they know so much, maybe they should have told me ahead of time and I could have saved myself the trouble!!! *rant over*
Awesome post, so true!
Regina said…
It's so crazy how any statement of opinion-or fact, for that matter-is seen by others as a personal attack on them. I loved my birthing experience and I want to talk about it all the time. It's not to down anyone elses. Mine was just very happy.
Deana said…
Whatever you say, DON'T tell people you are having a scheduled C-section. No matter the validity of the myraid of medical reasons you have for scheduling a surgical birth, all people hear is "selfish!" And "too posh to push!" Whatev. I had two planned beautiful surgical births, and they were just as meaningful and momentous as your natural home water birth.
Mama Birth said…
Thank you Deanna-
I almost went there but I don't have experience from that side of it so didn't feel like I could offer that voice. But yes- it comes from both sides.
Mama Birth said…
And I will switch Callie- thanks-
Anonymous said…
I agree with Deana. Not only did I have a planned c-section but I also planned on breastfeeding for a small amount of time but moving onto Formula feeding very quickly. I have been told I am everything from selfish and lazy to being completely unfit to be a mother and categorized as a child abuser. These sorts of comment come from people who do not even know me, my medical history or personal circumstances. I realized quickly that it is much easier to say nothing about my plans.....
Great post!
Miranda, I know how you feel; my story's a lot like yours.
Anonymous at 7:51 PM, I'm so sorry people said those terrible things to you.
Rebecca said…
I agree with Deana too! My first birth was an emergency c-section and i still get comments similiar to "was it really an emergency, you could have gone through labor" well if you had been my doctor than myself and my daughter would have been dead before i even gave birth. So thankfully i had someone who knew what they were doing and kept myself and my baby girl alive.
Second one was scheduled, but still did an emergency c-section 4 weeks early.
This is a WELL written article. Thank you!! I don't care how you parent, as long as you're protecting your children and raising good citizens (which of course everyones idea of "good" is different, but that's a whole other topic LOL!) The same thing doesn't work for everyone!
Jenrose said…
I've been saying this for years:

There is not one choice we can make as parents that someone, somewhere, won't judge us for. Someone will think we're wrong, someone will think we're crazy, someone will think we've sold out, someone will think we're not going far enough. We can't win. So we just have to do the best we can for us, for our children, and let other people's judgments go.
Dorothy said…
I always felt like when I was discussing my choices while pregnant that people that people just thought I was being naive. Like oh honey you have no idea what you are in for. That annoyed me!
Tom and Juli said…
sometimes I'm afraid to tell people I had a natural birth because many times people get so defensive "well I got the epidural because, because..." and I just want to give them a hug and say "We are two different people with different wants and needs... and that's okay!" I never think any less of my friends for their birthing choices, but I bet a lot of them think I'm thinking that.
Christine said…
I love this! It's taken me a few years of motherhood to learn that some things are best left unsaid. I'm not into discussing my mothering choices with random people, because it turns into such a pissing contest sometimes, even if that's not the intent.
momto5 said…
i have felt this way. like i have to preface every thing i say with "i did this and it worked for me, BUT it may not work for you or be what you would want to do and that is ok." sometimes i just want to talk and have someone listen without them getting upset like i am judging them for their choices.
like just because i had a UC doesn't mean i think i am better than anyone, or that i am "more crunchy" i am not in a contest, i just did what worked for me and my family. i breastfeed, BUT i don't think i am a better mother than someone who didn't/couldn't. but i want to talk about it, tell my experience. just like i am sure other moms want to do as well, just talk and have someone listen. i wish we could do that.
Anonymous said…
so what do we talk about??