When a woman becomes a mother, advice starts pouring in from all avenues. Most of this is in regards to diapers, preferred pediatricians, the hot products on the market, etc. What you are not prepared for is motherhood requiring thick skin. No, I don’t mean because your body is going to stretch more than you ever thought humanly possible. I’m talking about thick skin to weather the comments and criticism which come along with being a mother.
1. Do not, under any circumstance, comment on a pregnant woman’s body.
You see, it is not up to you to decide if a woman has gained too much or not enough weight. She doesn’t need you to tell her she looks ready to pop at five months pregnant. The emotional roller coaster she’s on is enough! She does not need snarky comments from the peanut gallery to add another loop. If you are not telling a pregnant woman she is glowing or beautiful, do not say anything at all. Thick skin plays a huge role here. Do not let an undeserving insult take away from the beauty of growing a life inside your belly!
2. Babies come in all shapes and sizes, so stop the comparison trap.
When you deliver a large baby, everyone must know if you delivered vaginally or by cesarean. If it was a natural birth: Did you use medication? Did you tear? A cesarean: Why? Was it an emergency? I’ve never understood why this was anyone’s business. If you have a smaller baby: Did you go early? Is she eating? Was something wrong with him? A new mother has enough on her plate. Be grateful the little one is here and find less invasive questions to ask.
3. There is no “perfect” way to be a mom.
In today’s society, there is so much pressure to fit into a mold when it comes to motherhood. People want to put a label on everything and jump to assumptions if you do certain things. Drive a minivan and tote your kids around to practice and activities? Soccer mom. All-natural everything? Messy bun, sweatpants and no makeup? All aboard the hot mess express. Sometimes, I’m all of these and then some, and I’m proud to admit that!
What happened to support and not judging? Women need a village to build them up, and once a little human enters the picture, that village must be stronger than ever. The last thing a mom needs to feel is alone in this crazy world of motherhood. Your thick skin will become stronger when you allow your tribe to support you. Remember them when the ugly, unwanted comments make you doubt yourself.
4. One child or six, it is up to the parents.
There are big families everywhere these days, I have lots (yes, lots) of friends with 4+ kids in their household. I also know plenty of people in the one-and-done category. Friends who adopted, friends who foster…I don’t believe there needs to be a minimum or maximum number on a number of kids you get to love. When we tell people our third is on the way (nine years later) I’ve had people question if we really thought it through. Friends due with their 4th or 5th have people ask if they’re aware of how this all works. As mothers and parents, we get the pleasure of deciding where this number ends on our own (and with some help from the man upstairs!) Large families fascinate me because it might be loud and somewhat chaotic, but there’s never a dull moment!
5. Thick skin doesn’t mean if we have to sit there and take it.
No, I’m not suggesting a physical fight with the rude commenter, but remember to stand up for yourself mama! Never let anyone, especially a stranger, crush your spirit or make you question your mom skills. The beauty of being a mother (regardless of how you earned it) means you are in charge of raising a little human in a crazy world. Trust your instincts and ask for help when you need it. Having thick skin will allow the not-so-nice comments to roll off and to laugh instead of cry. I want to believe that these wonderful critics do not always mean to be hurtful, but the filters get turned off when it comes to pregnancy and babies, especially when they’re a “veteran” mom.
Hang in there, mama. You’re going to deal with unwanted comments for the rest of your life once you become a mother. There will always be someone who feels they know whats best and they have no problem voicing that opinion. Whether you’re a newly wed and trying for your first, or a veteran mom sending her baby off to college, only you (and maybe the occasional doc) know what is best for your child.
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