10 Commandments for Visiting New Moms
Lately I’ve been seeing a whole lot of “what new moms need” blog posts. These are almost always accompanied by beautifully staged photos of care packages containing everything from nipple cream to bronzed sculptures of baby feet. But as someone who recently had a baby (a year ago counts as recently, right?) I can’t help but feel a little misrepresented.
After my son was born, I didn’t really want any of that crap. And even the stuff I did want, I had already purchased during the agonizingly boring final weeks of my pregnancy. So no, I don’t need that gorgeous care package, as much as my adorable baby might inspire you to rush to the craft store. It’s too late for me to benefit, but if you’re going to visit a new mom, please take note of these commandments. She’ll never tell you… but they’re all she wants from you and more.
1. Thou Shalt Bring Food. If I’m one of those moms lucky enough to live in a great community of people who’ve dutifully signed up for a day to bring dinners to my family, that’s fantastic… but you can still bring me food. ‘Cause I’m hungry. I basically just ran a marathon, and the exhaustion is only beginning.
If you know I’m getting dinners, bring breakfast. Bring lunch. Bring muddy buddies. Don’t you dare assume I’m already dieting. Which leads me to…
2. Thou Shalt Tell Me How Good I Look. I know I look like Jabba the Hut. Please lie to me and tell me I look radiant. And you’ve got your work cut out for you, because I know how bad I look. You’re going to have to dig deep here and find some sincere way to quell the self-loathing I feel when I look in the mirror at the flappy sack that my tummy once was.
There will be plenty of time to strategize about my post-baby weight loss. Today is not that day.
3. Thou Shalt Take My Older Kids Away. There’s nothing scarier than watching your rambunctious little boys descend upon your precious new baby. Sure, they mean well, but you wouldn’t put it past them to show their enthusiasm by licking the little guy on the face, and they probably have chicken pox or something because let’s face it, kids are germ-infested disease messengers.
I love them… but please make them go away for a little while longer. I’m very busy smelling my new baby’s head and eating muddy buddies.
4. Thou Shalt Clean Stuff. Don’t ask me how you can help. Just help. Do the dishes, make the bed, you can even dust if you’re feeling ambitious. But maybe don’t do the laundry. Just ’cause we’re friends doesn’t mean you need to go elbow-deep in my unmentionables.
5. Thou Shalt Let Me Take the Lead About the Story. There are two ways this one could go. Either I’ve already told the story of how the birth went a thousand times and I’m sick of telling it, or I feel like I deserve a medal (which, of course, I do) and I want to tell you why.
Either option must be ok with you. A simple, “How did it go?” should give you enough information to gauge my feelings on the subject. If I change the subject, move on with me. If I start in on the story, you will be riveted and awed by my heroism.
Oh, and on that note…
6. Thou Shalt Not One-up My Birth Story. I don’t care if your cousin’s sister gave birth out of her eighth ear. Today, my story wins. Childbirth is hard, no matter how it happens. If I decide I want to regale you with my gory tale, there will be no discussion about any other birth story you’ve heard that is harder, more interesting or more miraculous. Today is about my miracle. I win.
And most definitely…
7. Thou Shalt Not Pass Judgment About My Birth Choices. This might be easier said than done because I might have already projected your judgment upon you. Sorry.
For instance, if I know you had your babies naturally and I had a C-section, I’ve already assumed that you think I’ve endangered my perfect newborn for my own selfishness. You probably don’t actually think that, of course, but I assume you do because I’m hormonal, crazy and well… female. So please work extra hard to prove me wrong. Sing my praises until I believe you. Say it like you mean it the first time or all is lost between us. Trust me.
Come to think of it…
8. Thou Shalt Not Judge My Parenting Choices. Of course visitors don’t come over to make snarky comments about your decision to co-sleep or circumcise or breastfeed or not… but that doesn’t mean we new moms aren’t on high alert for any signs of judgment from you. Parenting choices surrounding babies are quite controversial and we know it. But here’s the thing – unless you sincerely feel like the baby is in danger, our choices are a big fat none of your business.
So watch your facial expression and tone of voice. Sometimes, those are all it takes to send us into a hormone-induced shame spiral.
9. Thou Shalt Offer Advice Only When Asked. You might have been a midwife. You might have worked as a nanny for 40 years. You might have a PhD in Baby Studies (yes, I know that’s not a thing). But I don’t care. I’m the expert on this baby, and I will resent any suggestion to the contrary. Or worse, I’ll believe you and feel entirely incompetent as a mother… so keep your pearls of motherly wisdom to yourself.
This is, of course, unless I ask. Then by all means, please help. I’m utterly clueless. The baby ate my brain.
10. Thou Shalt Not Decide When My Time Is Up. I’m done getting special “new mom treatment” when I say I am. Anybody who thinks I’ll be back to normal in two weeks has clearly never had children. The entire first year of a baby’s life is agonizingly beautiful and terrible all at once, and you operate at low (or sometimes high) levels of insanity at all times.
In fact, the same is true when they’re two. Or six. Or seventeen. So moms pretty much always get a free pass to be psycho and need your help and patience.
So please, please give it to us.
Related post: 25 Things New Moms Think
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