What’s Your Rank, Soldier?Amy Corbett Storch
I have a weird question for you, Internet. It’s not pressing or important or anything, so don’t feel like you need to put down your bagel/cookie/wine glass for it, but since this blog seems to serve as a repository for half-formed topics I thought of in the shower and don’t feel like condensing down to 140 characters for Twitter, here goes:
Is there a way to politely mention that Ike is actually my third baby (and not my first) without sounding like a “don’t you try to tell me anything, I’m a BABY EXPERT“-type jerk about it?
Because I am apparently TERRIBLE at small talk, I keep having these horribly awkward conversations with people when I don’t mean to have horribly awkward conversations. But it’s always like this:
PERSON: Oh! Baby! How cute!
ME: Thank you!
PERSON: Insert some variation on enjoy it while you can, they grow up so fast, he’ll be walking/talking/driving before you know it, etc.
ME: (smiles knowingly) Oh, yes. Believe me, I know.
PERSON: (chuckles condescendingly) You have no idea. Have you babyproofed yet? Have you covered your wall outlets? YOU HAVE TO COVER THE WALL OUTLETS, YOU KNOW BECAUSE TODDLERS BE CRAZY.
ME: This is my third baby. I am well aware of the thing about the wall outlets.
PERSON: Oh. Wow. Okay.
ME: PWNED! RESPECKT MY SKILLZ DAWG.
PERSON: Good luck with life, breeder.
Okay, that exact conversation didn’t happen, but you get the idea. The well-meaning but unasked-for advice in the baby store about what product I simply MUST buy, even though I know for a fact it sucks. The other mother in the check-out line wrestling with two kids jokingly telling me I’ve “got it easy” because she sees Ike in the Ergo carrier and not the other two I left in the car with their father because holy crap, no way.
The best one was the mother who noticed me changing Ike’s (cloth) diaper in a public restroom and commented that he “must be my first” because she “used to be idealistic like that” before she had her second child.
ME: Actually, this is my third.
Okay, maybe that time I didn’t really care too much about coming across like a jerk, since it crossed over “harmless small-talk assvice” and into “passive-aggressive judgy judgement.”
But then this weekend another mom struck up a conversation with me. She cooed over Ike and then launched into the “Time goes so fast I can’t believe it” conversation and then pointed to her two-year-old. “You’ll blink and suddenly have THAT, it’s so crazy.”
She was so nice and sweet and chatty, though, that I didn’t quite know how to pull off the “And then you’ll blink again and have THAT, A GIANT KINDERGARTNER” thing without sounding like I was trying to one-up her, or make her feel silly for telling me something that yeeeeeah, I kinda already know, thanks.
So I pretended I didn’t have any other children. They were elsewhere in the store with their dad, so I figured why bother? I can sit here and nurse and pretend that I’m interested in her baby gate recommendations for a few minutes. I can bite my tongue and resist the urge to make sure she knows my specific motherhood rank and qualifications and advanced placement degrees, right? Who cares?
Yeah. We bumped into each other again, later, at the mall playground, where there was no denying that the three children climbing all over me were all mine.
I was like, “Oh. Did I forget to mention the other ones? Right. Whoops. Ha..ha?” She clearly thought I was completely insane, and quietly moved to the other side of the seating area.
OBVIOUSLY, the best solution is for mothers to adopt some kind of military-like uniform that designates our rank as mothers of one, three, four, multiples, Duggar, etc. That way I won’t find myself whining about my singletons to a mom of twins, and we’d all know to send that mom of six over at the bar a drink and an order of mozzarella sticks that she doesn’t have to share with anyone, because respect. Duuuude.
Although a more workable solution would be for me to simply stop leaving the house and interacting with people, since it seems like turning harmless idle chit-chat into face-meltingly awkward encounters appears to be my personal superpower.