I keep reading articles about all the things I shouldn't say to people. There are 12 things you shouldn't say to pregnant woman and 15 things you shouldn't say to engaged couples. There are things you shouldn't say to people with 1 kid, people with 8 kids, and people with no kids. And, there are about 273 things you shouldn't say to new moms.1
I read every article that I stumble across and am convinced that I do so for one of two reasons. First, I want to see what I'm saying to people that is offensive (a thought that gives my heart minor palpitations). Second (and most frequently), I read for validation. It makes me feel better about myself to know I'm not the only one who is bothered by all the ridiculous things people have said to me.
Here's one. Right after Lily was born, I ran into a sweet man with grandchildren of his own. He was talking to me about motherhood and asked me, "Have you already forgotten what it was like before she came along?"
|Don't let this smile fool you. I was in shock, of course.|
Or, yesterday, this random woman at the splash park blindsided me with this one: "Oh! Your two kids will be about as close as my two kids! Most days at the beginning I wanted to beat my head against the wall, but now that they're 5 and 7, it's totally worth it." (It's a good thing she made an accurate assumption, or she could have fallen into multiple categories of the "Things you shouldn't say" group).
My first instinct in both scenarios was to get a little self-righteous. Like, how dare you tell me how hard it's going to be to have two kids only 18 months apart? You don't even know me.
But that's the thing I've learned about moms. We're all just a little self-righteous in our own way. We want to prove we are capable on our own which is absurd because we aren't.
(Well maybe you are, but every time I think I've got a handle on it, the day usually ends with me crying and driving over to my mom's house.)
That mom at the splash park was just being honest, and I appreciate that. She didn't sugar coat it, but she also let me know it'd be okay in the end. The retired man? Well, he literally can't remember a time without kids because that is now a small piece of his timeline. He's had kids far longer than he hasn't, and I truly believe he has forgotten about the times before they came along.
Self-righteousness is isolating--I know this first hand--and so, it has become my quest to assume the best intentions out of both friends and strangers alike.
Even if the statement is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Like this one: "The fourth year of medical school must be such a nice change of pace for your family!"
1 I would like to clarify that there are certainly things you shouldn't say to people. I’m not suggesting that we do away with tact, of course. Rather that I've realized in the past few months that I’m just a little too sensitive to the good-natured things people say to me on any given day.