As a society, we have evolved beyond our wildest dreams. Technology, possibilities, values. As humans, we haven't. We eat. We sleep. We reproduce. We die. The same as we have for centuries - before society became this way.
As a new mother, you hear about this all the time: the tribe - that in different cultures, women are on bed-rest - their only task is to sleep and breastfeed the baby. The rest of the family take care of everything else.
For some unknown reason, we aren't that culture anymore. We moved on. We thought we could handle it.
Becoming a new parent is an exciting time - for everyone - including the stranger behind you at the checkout of the supermarket.
Excitement means interest. Interest means questions.
1. Are you enjoying it?
When you ask someone this question, what kind of answer are you expecting? Society doesn't allow the parent to say "well actually - no - I'm really struggling" or "not really - this isn't how I expected to feel". Imagine the stunned look on that stranger's face. Judgement.
And if you say that you are enjoying new parenthood, this stranger will take pity on you and respond: "ahhh you think you like it now - wait till *insert developmental milestone here*, that's when you really have your work cut out for you". They will look bemused as they load their items onto the conveyor belt. Damned if you do - damned if you don't.
2. Is she a good baby?
About 99.99% of people I spoke with in early parenthood asked me this question. And they still ask me this question. At first, I said "yes" - because that's what you do - that's how you pass their test. Then I started to wonder why this question made me feel so uncomfortable. What kinds of things make a baby good or bad? It's sleep. Always sleep. "You know, is she sleeping through the night?" No, no she isn't. If that's a bad thing, but a baby can't be bad because she's just a baby, does that make me a bad parent?
3. When are you having another one?
You don't know what that parent has been through. I get asked this question all the time. Almost instantly, I am imagining the moment I overheard my doctor tell the midwife that I needed an emergency caesarean. I am imagining the first 3 months where Cadence screamed between the hours of 5pm and 7pm - every. single. night. I am imagining it all - all at once. I manage to say "we'll see what happens" but my scar aches and my nipples sting.
4. But don't you think she needs a sibling?
No = heartless. Yes = clueless.
5. Was it a planned pregnancy?
Unless it's medically relevant, it's rude. No further explanation required.
Say this instead:
1. You're doing a great job. Go mumma.
2. Is there anything I can do to help you?
3. How are you feeling?
4. Your baby is just gorgeous. It makes all the tough bits worth it, doesn't it?
5. Would you like me to help you with your shopping to the car or take your trolley back?
A smile is worth a thousand words. A smile says: "you got this, mumma".