It’s 1 O’clock in the morning and I should be sound asleep. The baby has had a cold, so she hasn’t been sleeping well. But she is tonight…and I’m not. Since I’m awake, and I haven’t written in ages, I thought I’d share my take on something I read yesterday.
Apparently, it is really easy to offend new moms. According to what I read, there is a whole host of things that are commonly said to moms as compliments; but the truth is they are insulting. Now, I guess I’ve just lived a sheltered life because when someone offers me a compliment, I either smile and say ‘thank you’ or I brush off what I’ve done as not being too impressive. And if the given compliment sounds a bit odd, then I assume I’m dealing with another human who, like myself, is really awkward at saying stuff to strangers.
Any way, I’d like to share my opinion of what should and should not be said to a new mom, in order to avoid any accidental insults.
First, we want to avoid casting doubt on a woman’s motherhood. So, it’s important to avoid things like “you look great!” or “you don’t look like you’ve had a baby.” These things insinuate that we are lying to boost the woman’s confidence, or we do not believe that she could have had a baby. Poor new moms may take this to mean A) that we cannot see the child in her arms, or B) that we believe she may have stolen thw child. Obviously, such insults are inappropriate. Instead, we should say “whoa! You look like you’ve been hit by a truck. There’s no denying you just spent 13 hours in labor to have a baby!”
The other common mistake people make with new moms is offering to help. When you say “let me know if you need anything. I can bring supper one night.” this sounds like you doubt mom’s ability to handle her household. Instead, always insist that a new mom jump right into her new routine. “Well, now that the baby is here you’ll have a lot to do. Be sure to cook organic meals everynight to make healthy breast milk.”
Last, new moms can be very sensitive about their weight. Telling a new mom she “looks great” indicates how fat and aweful she looked 2 weeks ago, before she had the baby. Saying anything about getting back to the gym should also be avoided — especially for women who really enjoy working out for stress relief. Instead, we should be honest. “Your pre-baby body is toast. There is no way you’ll ever get back in your skinny jeans. And forget the gym! You’ll never have time for that again!!”
Oh…wait. Never mind. Moms can just remember that the person offering compliments, usually wants to see them happy and confident. And the few sorry folks who just want to break your spirit…well, jokes on them, because moms can CHOOSE to see the good in what is said. Instead of silly lists of what not to say, we can realize that everybody says things that don’t come out just right. Smile, take the compliment, and move on.