Monday, September 19, 2011

Things to Say ... and Not

I am in the double digits of motherhood: Friday PJ turned 10 weeks old. In the past 10 weeks I’ve learned a lot about myself, my husband, and my little boy. For example, sleep is really important to me but I can function/survive on surprisingly little sleep. Not well and I’m sure my husband and boy like me more when I’ve slept more, but I can survive. Also water is really important. Really, really important. Right above food. And just on latte a day makes the Mrs. a happy lady.

No big surprises there, I suppose, dear readers. But (at least for me) I’ve also learned that some of things that I said to others during their first weeks of motherhood/fatherhood were just rude. I’ve learned that by getting those same things said to me. Thankfully, I’ve also learned that not everything I said to others was crappy; some things were just great. Again, I learned this one from the amazing people who have given me support in person or virtually. To help remind myself (and maybe save you some time and hurt feelings) in the future, here are some of the top things to say and NOT to say. These lists aren’t comprehensive and they are absolutely formed by my personal experience, I could be missing some good stuff.

Things Not to Say:
1. Wow, I’m so tired.
This is particularly awful to say when you mean that you stayed out too late with friends at an awesome party, drinking excellent cocktails, dancing to great music, and flirting with adorable women/men.

2. Got any food? / I’m hungry/thirsty.
What?! You didn’t bring any with you for us? I’m a little up to my ears in the chaos of early motherhood and your needs are quite low on my priority list.

3. Babies cry.
Really? Thanks - you aren’t helping. I think I’ve figured out that all babies and especially my baby cries. For hours. On. End. But thanks for pointing that out. Maybe you haven’t felt the biological need to calm your own child, Mr Obvious.

4. He wants his mommy.
A lot of the time this is a GREAT thing to say but not when mommy really needs a break and baby is fed, clean, and is crying to cry. Which is why you are here to help, right?. And if you aren’t here to help, why are you here?

5. Yes, I’d like to help. Come to my house / Lets meet at [enter location here].
The first part is awesome but the second part is lame-o. If a mommy or daddy asks for help and you really want to help, hop in your car. A mommy that needs help isn’t a mommy that is mobile. And no one wants to show up at a café with sore nipples and a screaming child.

6. Like mommy, like child.
Really? So its my fault that he cries for hours on end? I appreciate that.

7. He doesn’t need to breastfeed again!
How do you know that? Are you sure? Because he seems thrilled to be getting some food. Do you mean that you just want to hold him longer or feel uncomfortable with my boob? Cause I’m too tired to read into what you really mean.

8. Oh, I totally understand. My dog/cat/hamster did that and …
Really? My child, your pet? Um, thanks, I think we aren’t quite on the same wave length.

Things to Say:
1. Yes, I’d like to help. Where are your cleaning supplies?
The first part is, again, awesome. The second part is amazing because it is a concrete and not a vague “how can I help?” Cleaning for me is an amazing thing even if I don’t really care if my  house is clean or not. Strangely a clean toilet or kitchen sink makes me feel like not everything is out of control. Thank you.

2. I brought food for you / us.
Thank you because I most likely forgot to cook or can’t imagine cooking anything or forgot that I’m hungry. Or I just want those 20 minutes my husband would have spent cooking to spend with him, pretending to be adults. It doesn’t matter what you brought. Thank you for bringing something, anything.

3. Breastfeeding takes so much and you are going a great job. (said with awe in voice)
You are so right, it really does. It’s the hardest skill I’ve ever learned and it is an incredible responsibility. I worked really hard to get to this point with my son and sometimes I feel overwhelmed so thank you for the vote of confidence and the encouragement.

4. Wow, its rough that he cries so much. May I carry him around for a while?
You are so right - it is really rough and even if I can’t lay down, just sitting down on the couch with the knowledge that while he isn’t happy, he is getting the movement he wants, helps me. And it is so respectful that you ask to make sure that you carrying him is what I really need. Thank you.

5. It will get better and you are doing a great job.
Again, thank you. If you are a mommy/daddy this means even more. Please repeat this to me over and over and over again. I will believe you and in the moments when I just don‘t know what I‘m doing or why, I will think of you. If you aren’t a mommy/daddy, this is still an awesome thing to say. Often.

6. Wow, you look amazing / You don’t look like you gave birth X weeks ago.
Thank you. I’m really not all that worried about how I look these days but a compliment is always welcome! Feel free to comment on my skin, hair, nails, just about anything.

7. You are really lucky to have your husband. You can tell he loves PJ and you.
Remind me of how lucky I am because I am. I’m too tired and tried to notice it some days and you reminding me - especially with a bit of warmth in your voice - is excellent for me and my marriage.

8. You are doing such an amazing job. / You are an awesome mommy.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Thank you - I can’t see it and I need you to tell me over and over and over again. Thank you. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

What about you? What would you add to either or both lists?

1 comment:

starryfright said...

Yes to everything on that list. And especially to #6 on the list of things you should say. And to #5 on the things not to say. If I can't even see in a straight line, or drive my car, or stand another minute, why would I drive to your house.

My daughter has finally outgrown the eat every hour, and she naps during the day (Thank the good Lord), but she still doesn't sleep well at night. I'm tired, a lot of the time, and I don't need to hear how tired everyone else is from having fun, or even from taking care of an older self-sufficient child.

But it does get better, a little each day. And it's totally worth it when your little one smiles, or calls for mommy the first time for a happy reason and not a sad one. And when your husband watches baby on Sunday morning while you sleep for two hours. That's love.

P.S. You look awesome! I'd never guess you just birthed and are caring for a fanatical screamer. Awesome job! And you can still write in clear sentences. I can't pull that off most of the time.

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