Note: I wrote most of this post a month ago. Since then, I've gotten distracted a dozen times. I've added a little here and there and then I forgot about it. Then I read a great blog post. I want to thank Elise for her excellent post and for inspiring me to finish mine.
I've written a lot about hurtful words. About how it feels when someone says something unintentionally and about how we should weigh and measure our words. I've talked about accountability and perspective and all that good stuff.
I've gotten some flak for it over the years. Some say I'm too sensitive, that others are just trying to connect and that I shouldn't take everything so personally. Sometimes they were right. It's hard when you are in those hormonal, overwhelming new mom days. It's hard whether its one baby or twin babies. Whether it's your first or your fourth. It's freaking hard.
Have you ever seen a new mom or dad (or a seasoned mom/dad) and wanted to just connect? To just talk to her but you weren't sure what to say? If so, that.is.awesome. It can be so lonely and just so MUCH.
Those days when you haven't talked to anyone over three years old and you don't have any support...they're hard.
But just blurting something/anything out isn't so awesome.
The whole "four girls? Man! Glad I'm not you!" yes...Jimmy gets this one often. The "better you than me" thing? The looks of annoyance at a new baby that is crying?
The looks of disgust when a new mom has more than one kid and one (or more) is acting up and the baby is screaming and she looks like she is going to just sob? The "you've got your hands full" comment in this scenario?
The "just wait until they are all teenagers! glad i'm not you!"
Yeah. Can we stop that crap? Or at least just think it, as opposed to saying it?
These are all things that have either happened to me or things that I've witnessed happening to someone else.
There are (in my opinion) two options for such scenarios. And they are pretty simple.
1. You are doing a great job. How can I help?
2. Just don't say anything. A smile of encouragement can be just as helpful.
Listen. There are jobs harder than motherhood. I don't expect a badge of honor or sainthood for doing my job. But compassion is always good.
Sidenote:Recently I saw someone on FB say something like "Ugh. Why are there all of these blogs on motherhood? So much validation. Our mothers didn't need crap like that to survive."
You know what? Our mothers felt alone too. Our mothers didn't know what the hell they were doing sometimes. They wanted to scream and cry too. And they would have appreciated kindess too. How cool is it that we have the Internet to connect and encourage us now?
So here's the deal. If you don't know what to say...just take a second to think about how the mom (or dad) you see might be feeling.
I've been guilty (many times) of trying to connect with someone and just saying something...anything to do so.
My favorite thing to do is offer to help. Carry something, hold a baby, pick up something. Lots of times they probably think I am a total creeper/weirdo. But lots of times they don't. And they just look relieved at realizing they aren't invisible.
Another helpful phrase is you are going to be okay or it gets better. Y'all..I literally do not remember the first year after Cate and Lucy were born. I don't. I look at the pictures...I know I was there...but I don't remember.
I DO remember they guy that told me "Your hands are full!" as he let the door slam in my face. I do remember the "Oh, poor you" from a cashier.
Those things stick.
Wouldn't be awesome if there were so many uplifting and encouraging comments that those were the things that stuck?
Let your kind words stick today. We Rise By Uplifting Others.