Monday, February 27, 2017

10 things NOT to say to a (young/new) stay-at-home mom

hehe, i've been wanting to share this list for a while.  it's so real and true to what i have experienced as a mom (and, from the many stories I hear, what others experience as well).  some of these things are true for all moms, working and stay-at-home, while others are specific to women like me who "don't work" (more on that later!).  important note: this is meant to be a lighthearted post.  no anger or attacking of anyone here!  tone gets lost through written word at times and i want this to be clear.  while these things can truly bother me when said, i know that most of them come from good people with good hearts.  hopefully this can be informative for those who have said them (pre-mom me included!) so they can be a blessing to the moms around them and give other moms with similar struggles the knowledge they aren't alone (and maybe a chuckle here and there).  under each point, i've included some positive thoughts and alternative ideas so you don't feel like you're walking on eggshells with every mom you meet. 

there may be some things on this list that don't bother some moms or some things i've missed.  this is just a simple list from my own experience and what i've learned from the mommies i know and love! 

1)  your child needs a sibling.  when are you getting pregnant again?

this one comes first because it's the one i've heard the most (the first time being less than five months after rennie was born).  i really understand that it's asked out of innocent curiosity most times, but for someone like me it's a really hard one to answer.  firstly because it's quite personal and secondly because i don't even know if i CAN get pregnant again.  and i really don't want to talk about all of that in a five-minute passing conversation.  side note: comments about my child needing a sibling only adds to my already high anxiety about the potential of not being able to have more children.

conclusion:  if you're close to me and truly want to know this for prayer reasons, maybe try phrasing a bit differently?  maybe ask what andrew and i want?  "are you two hoping to have more children?" THIS would be something i'd be glad to answer!  this question shows that you care about our desires as a family instead of projecting your own expectations.  make sense?  :-)  and, just to put it out there:  yes, andrew and i DO hope to have more children.  prayers for that are always welcome!  <3

2)  are you trying for a boy/girl this time?

i get the "boy next" comment all of the time!  this one is difficult to swallow.  while i hope we get the chance to experience raising both girls and boys, i really just want to have healthy, happy kids!  i will not be disappointed in the least if we have another girl if/when we grow our family.  my parents had three girls in a row (myself included) and it was AMAZING growing up that way.  on the flip-side, i would love a boy as well!  i think it would be a blast!

conclusion:  just leave this one alone.  congratulate people as they celebrate their new baby.  if the parents bring up how excited they are about the gender of their child, rejoice with them!

3)  you look tired

umm, i'm pretty sure that's just my face now.  *wink*  honestly though, i don't sleep through the night EVER.  it took time i would have rather spent eating or drinking coffee to put on this tiny bit of makeup and letting me know that i still look like a zombie isn't the most encouraging thing.

conclusion:  just don't.  i already know i look tired.  in any case, we need to be building each other up with our words.

4)  you can watch my kids!

oh please, not this!  this one (which is directed at fellow mommies) is hard because i'm not trying to be mean or unhelpful.  i know some couples like to trade babysitting with their friends and some stay-at-home moms don't mind a little extra money.  and i think it's wonderful that this works for them.  this is not me though.  or andrew.  he works hard all day and the absolute last thing he wants when he comes home is to spend his evening watching someone else's kids.  no thanks.  we'll just pay a trusted babysitter on our date nights (that's what they are for!) or let grandparents love on rennie.
as for me, i am very limited in my child-love.  i didn't babysit as a teenager outside of my own siblings and being a mom now doesn't mean i want to watch everyone's kids.  and just because i don't work outside the home does NOT mean i need more work.  i've got enough already.  it is andrew's and my "rule" to not be babysitters for our friends, just as a blanket policy to avoid drama.

conclusion:  if you want a friendship with me or my family, let's all get together and have a blast!  if you want a babysitter, hire one.

5)  i'm heading over...

oh horrors.  this one is hard.  some days i don't change out of sweats and most days i don't get a shower till evening unless i already knew i had something going on that day.  showing up with little to no warning isn't only stressful and embarrassing, it isn't considerate.

conclusion:  make plans!  i very much enjoy getting together with a fair amount of prep time.

6)  me touch!

okay, this isn't exactly how it's worded (usually it's more a lack of words), but it sums up the touching of pregnant bellies or reaching to take babies/children without asking mom/dad first.  i had my body touched SO many times without giving permission while i was pregnant and it was so awkward.  i actually had a lady (who i didn't know!) come up to me, lean over, and place her hands and FACE on my pregnant belly. AND STAY THERE.  for several minutes.  and did i mention i was standing in the middle of another conversation with a friend the whole time?  very.  weird.
i've also had people "ask" to hold rennie while already pulling her out of my arms.  or not ask at all.  just pick her up or mess with her hair.  i'm not talking about family and close friends.  i'm talking acquaintances and total strangers.  she hates it and so do i.  stranger danger much!

conclusion:  look with your eyes, not your hands.  unless i ask if you want to hold rennie, we're good.  i know you probably aren't a scary person, so please don't make us scared of you.  *wink*

7)  you're so picky!

well, if the food industry would stop putting tons of crud in our food, maybe i would let my child put just anything in her mouth.  and if shampoo wasn't full of chemicals i would use the generic brands.  it is frustrating enough trying to make good choices for my child without feeling berated for it.

conclusion:  as long as i have my child's best interest in mind, please show support.  i need that!

8)  shouldn't they be sleeping through the night/weaned/potty-trained by now?  when had kids that age...

here's the deal.  i'm super happy that your baby let you sleep eight hours straight at four months.  mine didn't and still hasn't.  there are many different parenting style and these all affect many habits of babies/toddlers, plus every child is unique!  we co-sleep, she still nurses (mostly for naps and at night), and potty training is of no interest to either of us yet.  it works really well for us.

conclusion:  don't compare.  not weight or height or eating or sleeping or speaking or mobility or anything.  good mommies do keep an eye on all of these things themselves and don't need the added pressure.

9)  you really should work harder on your appearance

inner screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam.
whether it's about lack of weight loss, the messy bun, sweatpants, or a makeup-less face, it's out there... it's been said.  we live in a very visual and appearance-based culture and this is something i'm sick of.  i'm tired of hearing about how i would be happier or better if i was thinner and capable of a ten-thousand-year plank.  i'm weary of "setting a good example" meaning wearing perfect hairstyles and trendy clothes.  my husband actually thinks it's silly for me to dress up when i'm going to be at home all day and has told me many times that he finds me just as (if not more) beautiful without makeup.  and when it comes to weight loss, i'm so done with fat-shaming.  some of the best, strongest, kindest people i know are far from our culture's ideal body type.  on the flip-side, some of the fittest and most "beautiful" people i know can be shallow, self-absorbed, and even unkind.  i would much rather work on my character than my abs.  (note: there are amazing, godly thin or athletic people and mean-spirited big people too... i'm just tired of the stereotypes of happy and good equaling athletic or small, especially since this isn't substantiated by God's Word in the least).  and if "looking good" is the best example i can set for my daughter, i will have failed.  miserably.  i am not an ornament and neither is she.  to make whether or not i'm a good wife/mom be about how i look demeans me (and any person).

conclusion: there needs to be a huge change in how we perceive people.  we need to learn to see a person's character apart from their outer shell.  never is it okay to demean someone because of their looks or weight or sweatpants.  we are grown ups!  we should know this.  and placing it under "concern for health" isn't okay either.  unless you are my doctor or i have asked you for health tips, don't fret about it!

10)  it must be nice not having a job.


that is hilarious.

while being a wife/mom is (i believe) the most rewarding job a woman can have, it is still very much work.  no other job demands 24/7 presence without pay!  as a wife and mom i give of myself spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally every moment i am awake.  and when i'm sleeping there is a chance at any second i will be woken to meet a new need.  i am a counselor, teacher, helper, and nurse (to name just a few).  on top of that, being a homemaker gives me the responsibilities of a live-in cook and maid.

that pretty much sums it up for me.  moms (and dads), you are amazing.  thank you for the amazing work you do each day to nurture souls.  everyone else, we need you!  we need your friendship, your support, your sympathy, and your love.  thank you for your giving and trying to understand us as we muddle through parenthood.
may God be glorified through our actions and words toward each other!

everyone have a blessed day!



Dani Jeanne said...

Rachel, I'm so sorry you have had to hear all of these remarks! You remind me so much of my older sister who is currently a mommy of a two-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl/toddler. I laughed out loud when I read the "i'm coming over..." because I think that would give my sister a similar mini-heart attack.

When I'm tempted to be critical of mommies or young parents I have to remember: I'm not a mommy or a young parent and I don't know what they are going through. Also, if I ever am a mommy, I know I will still need to remember that even if someone else's expectations differ from my own, that doesn't make them a bad parent or less successful of a parent. Because at the end of the day what every child needs most is for THEIR parents to love them and be there for them.

I can tell you and your husband are doing an incredible job with Rennie and I will be praying for you and the future of your family!

Haters gonna hate. ;)

Dani xoxo
a vapor in the wind

Livia Rachelle said...

Yes, the babysitting one. I want to love my future kids, but I don't see the need to be a "kid person." My mom is willing to watch other peoples kids . . . and I think they abuse that. And the experience can be . . . interesting. I think some parents don't think about how different (harder) it is to watch kids a person cannot discipline.

And the touching. I dread that for whenever I get pregnant. What is up with people? I'd have to say, that reacting somewhat "rudely" might actually be appropriate because it is SO rude and weird to touch peoples' tummies or ask to hold their kids if you don't know them. At our church little kids carry around other peoples's babies. That ain't happening with any I have.

Rachel H said...

I have to say, I agree with most of these. Being a stay at home mom is hard, and a lot of work! I do have a thought in terms of the baby- sitting one though. As a mom who has to work, I am very picky with who I ask to watch my children. They're the most precious part of my life, and when I ask someone to guard them for a while, I'm asking someone to guard a piece of my heart. It's honestly a marker of how deep a relationship I have with a person/family when I ask them to watch my kids. I have friends who like to watch other people's kids and friends who don't. I always try to ask the ones I know enjoy doing it first. If that doesn't work, I have to move to the ones that I know don't enjoy it so much, but are still the ones I trust. I've had a mom say she wouldn't watch them, not because she couldn't but just because she didn't want to. That was after I'd already asked everyone else and was out of options, which she knew. To me, that kind of communicates that my kids weren't important and that it didn't matter who watched them. Which in turn communicated that I wasn't important and that our friendship wasn't as deep as I thought. Obviously, that's not what she was saying. But when you're out of options for people that you trust, you have to go to work, and the last person on your approved list says no because "it's not her thing", that's really frustrating and hurtful. I think there's room (within boundaries and reason) to help out a friend, recognizing that she's asking you to guard that which is closest to her heart and that she doesn't ask lightly. That doesn't mean you'll be a nanny, or an all the time go- to. But helping a friend every now and then is much appreciated.

Disclaimer; I do have a consistent nanny that pay. But sometimes, she's out of town.

Disclaimer 2: I love you and Andrew, and you have every right to this decision and opinion. Just offering another perspective from the other side. ☺

Rachel J said...

I really appreciate your comment. ❤️ As I said, I think it is great that this works for many people. In a true emergency I hope Andrew and I would be available to help someone. More than anything, it's the assumption that we will be on-call babysitters that bothers me. 😉

Many blessings!

Lynn The Surnameless One said...

Wow! People comment on your appearance? Not cool. Not a mom yet, but I'm a stay at home wife (legally unable to work in the country that we live in). A lot of work goes into running a household. Throw a young child on top of that and wow. Can't imagine being expected to do all of that and look glamorous all the time.

Great list!