Earlier today I posted a little mini-rant on Facebook (promptly deleted it because I worried that the attitude bordered on snotty even though all the comments were in support of my point) about a little frustration I have.
FIRST, and I’ll probably preface most of my baby and pregnancy related posts with this, you need to understand my heart a little bit. This blog is my place to work through a lot of frustrations I have with the way I’ve come to perceive our society’s idea of motherhood as well as the plain stupid way that a lot of people treat pregnant women and moms, but please don’t ever take any of my ranting as a suggestion that I am not humbled and unbelievably grateful to be carrying a baby. Please read this for just a little bit of context.
Now that I have an appropriate avenue to vent my frustration, may I?
Just you wait.
Three simple words, but say them to me in the context of pregnancy or motherhood and I guarantee that the smile I’m giving you is fake plastered on, and I’m already looking forward to the twenty minutes I’m going to spend ranting about our conversation to my longsuffering husband later.
The reason? “Just you wait” is a strange phenomenon- it comes from well-meaning people, usually parents, who have quite literally “been there, done that”. Probably also bought the T-shirt. Some of them may be just a few months ahead of me in their parenting journey, others are veterans with several children and a couple thousand temper tantrums, snotty noses and diaper changes under their belt. “Just you wait” is typically followed by a description of something your child will do in the future that you have yet to experience. Unfortunately, by and large the anecdotes are of the negative variety.
Man, I didn’t get very good sleep this weekend. “Just you wait til your baby arrives, you’ll never get a good night’s sleep again! Enjoy it now!”
Here’s a picture of my baby belly- it’s still pretty small but it’s exciting that I’m showing a bit! “Just you wait til your muscles and skin are all stretched out and you’re covered in stretch marks! You’ll wish you were this tiny!”
I couldn’t decide which video game I wanted to play this weekend! “Just wait til your baby’s here, you’ll WISH you have the free time to play video games!”
I’m sure I don’t have to spell out the problem here. Granted, not all responses are so blatantly negative. But the general attitude, as perceived by the person receiving the “advice”, is one of negativity and one-upmanship. When a young couple who is expecting their first baby shares information about their journey with you (often because you asked), immediately following up with some aspect of parenthood that they haven’t reached yet invalidates the part of the journey that they are on right now. It makes me wonder whether they really wanted to know how I’m feeling, or whether they just really needed to vent a bit about an aspect of parenthood they’re dealing with now. Venting is fine in the proper context (most of the time that’s NOT Facebook, hence my own personal transition to this blog), but that context isn’t right after someone earlier in the parenting game than you shares something personal with you and is probably hoping for either reassurance, or that you’ll simply rejoice with them.
I do realize that most of these comments come from a place of genuine happiness for our situation and a desire to, somehow, help us. Perhaps you think you are giving us really valuable advice or equipping us with knowledge we’ll badly need in the coming months. But what you’re really doing is frustrating us, implying that what we’re feeling right now isn’t really a big deal, and quite possibly also scaring us and making us dread being parents.
What we could use most right now, as expectant parents, is quiet acceptance of what we’re going through at this very moment. We literally can’t imagine what it will be like five months from now when we’re holding our own baby in our arms for the first time. As much as you can tell us that it’s the most incredible feeling in the world, we haven’t been there. But if you have, then that means you’ve also been right where we are right now- halfway there, full of anxiety and doubt but also excitement and hope. Maybe you could empathize with us about those things, and share your experiences from that same time in YOUR life (assuming either that they’re positive, or that we have ASKED you to share the negative stuff with us- please don’t volunteer it!) instead of giving us reasons to fret about the future or feel like we’re stupid and naive because our experiences haven’t caught up with yours.
I want to finish by saying THANK YOU to every single person who has rejoiced with us, congratulated us, wished us well, given us baby stuff, or told us that we’re going to be great parents and that having kids is just a really darn awesome experience. That includes those of you who have congratulated us and then said those forbidden three words, “just you wait”. Thank you for the congratulations, thank you for caring about us, and thank you for reading!