You thought the hard knocks of life where getting dumped, finding a good job, keeping up with the rent and finding a good man was laborious?
Not so fast, sister.
Let us introduce the hardest job on the planet. It's called "motherhood."
The battle of meeting the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of another human are endless. So forgive us when you ask a question that makes us feel even worse in between the diaper changing, crying and spit up that is consuming our lives daily. Admittedly, we've all been on the other side of being a mom. With that in mind, we know we are guilty of asking some pretty dumb questions to mothers.
Now, we are reaping those same insensitive and downright asinine questions ourselves.
As we tiptoe through this minefield called parenting, here are 6 things that you should never ask a new mom. If you do, prepare to put a helmet on because you are wandering into a combative territory.
Why do you look tired?Wait for the applause for this question (sarcasm) and the ridiculous look you will receive in return. Why do I look tired? Let's ponder this for a second. Don't think we don't know that this a critique disguised as a concern. Of course, we look tired. We haven slept in days. We grab whatever sugar or caffeine available and we forget to shower. We can't even pretend to be perfect anymore. "The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly--indeed to embrace uncertainty," author Arianna Huffington says about being a parent. Uncertainty is a big part of parenting and it wears you down. Mothers bear a great responsibility because of this. So yes, we are tired and look tired.
Are you breastfeeding?Well, it is none of your business. There is a pressure on women to breastfeed more now than ever. The reasons are that the breast milk has great benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that exclusive nursing for 1 year leads to the greatest health benefits. Yet, this is not for everyone and some new mothers can't produce enough milk even if they desire to breastfeed. Fewer than half of the women who breastfed, continued for a year because it's not feasible with schedules and other obligations, the New York Times reported. Some women said that breastfeeding was painful. Don't ask this question. By the time they leave the hospital, women are already feeling the pressure to breastfeed by medical staff and "well-meaning" people.
Are you going back to work?Now you are getting really personal. If you are not privy to my bank statements, you do not need to know if returning to work is on the radar. When you ask this question it is basically asking if you can afford to stay at home or you shouldn't work because daycare is a wrong choice. If working makes you a better mom, so be it. There is enough tension for new mothers as it is. Society tends to frown on those working. But research now suggests that babies don't suffer when parents go back to work. There are "downsides to mothers taking work during their child's first year, there are also significant advantages--an increase in mothers' income and well-being," the Guardian reported.
Are you having another?Another what? Another vacation, another date night or another spa day? Because if you mean another baby, you can zip it. No woman wants to deal with that question after giving birth and being so stressed out. Maybe they don't want another? Maybe they are grateful for the child that they have. Maybe they had a hard time conceiving the first child. Regardless, don't ask this. But do ask about what they are excited about in their lives and what they like about being a mom.
Have you lost the baby weight yet?Do you see something that we are missing? Losing baby weight is a long process and it is not on our minds--only sleep is. Our culture assumes that all new moms can bounce back to their pre-pregnancy size, but everyone is different. The celebrity moms that we see make it seem easy because they have nannies and the money to hire trainers to help them bounce back quicker. Let's stop being so judgmental and shaming moms by asking this question.
Are you scared?Well, duh. Of course being a new mom is scary. You are wondering if they are still breathing in the crib, why they are crying and wondering how you are going to manage it all. Everyone is different and people process change differently. The transition into mommy-hood may take up to a year for your body and for your life to settle down. Not only are we scared--we are apprehensive about our future. If the new mom is going through postpartum depression, this question could really hurt her. Between 15 and 20 percent of new moms, about 1 million women in the U.S. each year, experience some form of postpartum blues. The best bet here is to avoid the question altogether unless she brings it up as you are just surfacing all her fears. The short answer is "yes" she's pretty darn frightened.
You remember the wise words you were given as a kid? It goes something like, think before you speak? When dealing with a cranky, sleep deprived woman, you might want to rethink your position in fielding questions that are not sensitive and or dismissive. We are all guilty of it, as we can be feeble-minded creatures of sorts. Give a mom a break and cast your questions aside. Do it for your own sake or take a risk in dealing with her wrath or her asking you a few choice questions.