I can honestly say that motherhood has always been a desire of my heart. When I was younger and people would ask me the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question, my answer would be “a mom.” Or a ballerina. Depended on the day. Now, just a few short months from that dream becoming a reality, excited doesn’t even begin to sum it up. I’m admittedly a bit nervous about the long nights and days that are to come, but I have lots of mama friends, so I think I’ll be alright.
I have quickly learned that unwanted/negative advice just comes with this big bellied territory. It doesn’t matter how much previous mamas tell you about people touching your belly or giving you their opinion, you’re just never prepared for it. My first experience with unwanted negative advice came in the maternity section of Target, as I held up a top to see if it’d fit around my growing belly.
“That’d be cute on you! Oh, enjoy it girl, you’re kissing the good days good-bye!”
It took me a few minutes to process what she’d just said as she walked away. Thankfully my skin is thick, and I don’t tend to make life decisions based on what strangers in Target have to say. But still, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little disheartening.
It definitely got me thinking, especially as more and more people have started saying things like this. Why do veteran moms say things like that? What are the ways that new moms could learn without it being a negative experience? How are new moms supposed to process and react to these passing comments? The lady in Target most certainly wasn’t and won’t be the last person to give unwanted and unneeded advice, so I wanted to talk about it!
To the Veteran Mamas:
Can I just start by saying that I would be completely without hope without you? There are so many of you who have spoken so much truth into mine and many other about-to-be and new mamas’ lives. You are our champions. You make us believe we can actually do this! But you also terrify us sometimes. It scares the crap out of us when some of you make passing comments about the good ole days or how much of a monster your child (that is standing next to you) is. When you drop the difficult truths of breastfeeding or how we’ll never sleep again or how having your own identity is a thing of the past, and then keep on moving, it makes us think maybe we can’t do this thing we’re about to walk into. And there is absolutely a time and a place for those conversations, but we need them to be conversations. Meaningful and intentional and from people we do life with.
Ask us out to coffee/dinner and ask us if we have any questions, and answer them honestly! Your kid wouldn’t latch for anything? I seriously want to hear everything you felt, thought, did, struggled with. He didn’t sleep for a year? Teach me, oh wise one. Also tell us about the wonderful, rewarding parts of motherhood. There is nothing more beautiful than women learning from and with other women, and I can pretty much promise you that all of us newbies crave that interaction and knowledge. I just think there’s such a difference between these significant, grace-filled conversations happening between mothers, and women making offhand comments to prove just how hard they’ve got it.
To the About-to-be and New Mamas:
The reality is, the things we’re talking about are never going to stop being said. We’re imperfect humans, and we say things we shouldn’t all the time (guilty). The only thing we can control is how we take it all in. Should we let someone nonchalantly telling us we’ll never sleep again send us into a panic and think twice about how pumped we are to be mamas? No. Will our completely understandable fears and raging hormones sometimes still cause that to happen? Probably.
This is how I’ve started processing advice across the board; the good, bad, and ugly: First, I consider the source. A stranger in Target? I’m not going to take it too seriously. Woman I’ve walked through life with for 5+ years? I’m most likely listening up. But I have to remember that even those women aren’t going to always speak implicit truth. So second, I filter. I pray about the things that people say to me, even the ones that strangers say that seem to carry a little more weight than they should. I talk to my husband (who is the most wise and rational person I know), and let him speak truth into it. And last, I just try to relax. I’m never going to have all the answers or information; I’m never going to really know what’s headed my way. Stirring myself into a frenzy about it isn’t going to do me, baby girl, or anyone else any good. We got this, y’all.
Blake is a 25 year old southern Louisiana native. She and her husband, Jeremy, are expecting their first child this September, a baby girl. She currently works full time running a gym, but will be trading in barbells & membership fees for bottles & diapers to become a stay-at-home mom once her daughter is born.