Admit it: you love to give advice. You see a pregnant woman suffering in maternity skinny jeans and all you want to do is re-dress her into the Yoga pants she’ll come to know and love. You want to buy her a 10lb can of Metamucil and encourage her to start stockpiling frozen maxi-pads. Because with the gift of bearing children, there comes a deep desire to share the motherly knowledge you have acquired along the way. And also, with ‘the gift of bearing children’, you sometimes get ‘the gift of losing your filter’: The ‘inner voice’ that tells you to shut your face and leave that poor pregnant woman alone. Let’s be honest here. She doesn’t want to hear about the benefits of perineal massage in the Starbucks as she blissfully sips her latte in one of the few remaining peaceful moments she has left before Hell is unleashed.
Of course, 97.5% of mothers have their heart in the right place, meaning that, yes, 2.5 percent of mothers are complete assholes. That is a scientific fact. There is nothing that can be done about it except to break up with them immediately, if you happen to be ‘friends.’ (And don’t worry, asshole people eventually get really wizened and horrid looking like in The Picture of Dorian Gray. This is scientifically unconfirmed. It sounds about right though.)
But even those of us with their hearts in the right place can sometimes say the WORST thing possible. Let us provide the following example and translation:
You: “Oh, your son isn’t sleeping through the night? That must be awful. My daughter has always been a good sleeper. She sleeps like, 12 hours now. It’s kind of crazy.”
Your intention: I want this person to know that sleep IS possible. That one day it’s all going to work out and she’ll have a fantastic night’s sleep. We’re all in this together!
How she’s taking it: I’m a failure. I’m never going to sleep again. My life is over. I hate myself. My roots are growing in and my footwear is horrendous.
See how easily your good intentions have been misunderstood? But here’s the thing you’re forgetting:
You don’t mean to. And yes, we do believe that your child is sort of sleeping but it took you a hell of a long time to make that happen and you forgot to mention that. You crossed out that little tidbit of info in your maternal memory bank because you don’t want to remember how you lost clumps of your hair and consistently told your husband that he was a douche face. You were stressed! Not sleeping is a form a torture. Look what happened to Lady Macbeth! Who wants to remember how hard it was when you can focus your energy on how awesome you feel that you only wake up once or twice now (which technically isn’t sleeping through the night, but never mind.)
So here’s the up side: Anytime another mother gives you information about her life that in turn makes you feel like you are FAILING MISERABLY as a parent just whisper under your breath: “she’s lying”. Because it’s true. She is lying. But not just to you, also to herself. And she doesn’t even know it. (And even if she’s not – who cares – you’ll feel better) So forgive her for not remembering what really happened and find comfort in the fact that there is a chemical in our brains that eliminates pain memory.
Because one day it WILL all work out. You will go to sleep and you will leave the house without Cheerios in your hair. You will once again find the matching socks to wear instead of matching a pair that just look kinda sorta similar. And, yes, you will one day wear a bra without flaps on the front – a bra that keeps your boobs pointing UP and not DOWN.
But at this point you should probably just offer to buy her a coffee because, seriously, you both deserve it. Just think how different life would have been for Lady Macbeth had someone just given her a hug and offered to buy her a mocha latte. A lot less drama that’s for sure.
xo S and A