Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Things Not to Say to a Mom of One

There is a long list of things people, especially strangers, should not say to young mothers (or fathers). Below are two that have bothered me the most.

Me and BB

1. Having one is SOOOOO easy.

Looking back at one child from the view of two or more, it is easy to say that. Not long after my son was born I saw the advantages of having one instead of two (especially one who is much more self-sufficient than her newborn baby brother). It’s much easier to get one dressed, fed, and ready for outings. One is easier to keep track of while on an outing. One is easier to keep entertained. There is more time to do the things I want/need to get done during the day. But, of course, as your family grows, you tend to forget what it was like the first time around.

When my daughter was born, I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. Every experience was new and I had to figure out how to handle each one in a manner that worked for our family.  I read quite a few books to try to help me through various situations – weaning, solid foods, sleep scheduling, potty training. You name it, there are thousands of books to tell you the “right” way to do it. And there are plenty of conflicting ideas, as Ava Neyer pointed out.

All of the helpful advice can be overwhelming and make you feel like you’re doing it wrong and you’re going to screw up your child and you are so not cut out for this and on and on and on. Sometimes you end up trying it all only to find that your child does not fit any of the molds. Sometimes you will do something you swore you’d never do or that many people say is bad for the baby but it works and is saving your sanity so you go with it.

As a first time parent, EVERYTHING is a big deal. It is super important for the baby to follow the schedule to a T every single day. I know that once you find something that works, you try to hold onto it for as long as possible, which doesn’t tend to be that long as babies are always changing things up, especially that first year. By the time you get a good three nap schedule down, they decide to drop one. When you are finally figuring out a good time for errands, the baby will get sick and keep you home for a few days (or a week). It’s one giant guessing game.

It is so tough being a first-time parent. Experience makes the second time around A LOT better.  I still am not getting everything “right” but I know (from experience) that everything is a stage that WILL pass and that really helps get me through. And, of course, I’m still continuing to experience plenty of firsts with our oldest child.

2. So, when are you having another one?

As my journey into relationships with other mothers has progressed, I have learned that there are a lot of reasons families have one child. The simplest reason is that it is what the couple has decided completes their family. But, many times, this is not the case. I have quite a few women in my circle who have had issues with pregnancy. For some, their first child was a miracle. They would love to have more, but they didn’t even think they could have one. Some are in the process of trying to get pregnant a second time, but have had months, or years, of disappointment. Some women have dealt with the sorrow of one or several miscarriages before and/or after their first child. Other women had such a rough first pregnancy and/or delivery that they don’t want to risk having the same, or a worse, experience.

Most of these are issues no one wants to discuss with strangers or even well-meaning friends. The question may hit a sore spot without you ever knowing. I know of one instance when I asked that question to someone who had just suffered their second miscarriage (I didn’t know that until later). Since then, I have chosen to refrain from asking this question. I would caution you to also think hard before using this question as a casual conversation topic.

Do you have any additional suggestions on what not to say to a mom of one? Do you remember inappropriate or insensitive things told to you with your first or only child?