People Say the Darndest Things... especially to Mothers

The recent Lives column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Terrible Twins describes one of the universal truths of motherhood: People say the darndest things to pregnant ladies. In the essay, writer Samantha Hunt enumerates negative reactions she received when expecting twins: people wrinkled their noses, said, "really?" and "better you than me." While Ms. Hunt blames these comments on the fact that she was expecting multiples, most modern mothers have all been there.

Expecting another child 14 months after the birth of your first? Be prepared for impertinent questions regarding (a) your religious background, or (b) your knowledge of the logistics of procreation. Expecting your third son? Be prepared for condolences. Pregnancy bump too large? Not large enough? Whatever the situation, it seems the expectant mother is destined to receive comments and questions that may seem offensive, judgmental, callous, and more.

But, here's the thing: 99% of these comments are not meant to offend. They are usually awkward or unsuccessful attempts at small talk or humor. So, there's not much use in getting worked up about it. An expectant mother who hears zingers like, "So, was this planned?" is hardly unique. Hopefully, Ms. Hunt has learned that by now.

And, since we all know the clueless comments don't stop when the baby is born, an expectant mother might consider her pregnancy as training for all the many loaded questions and comments she will receive as a mother : Cloth or disposable, bottle or breast? Do you work? Time outs or logical consequences? Sign up for travel team or forgo organized sports? Do you let your sitter drive your children? Sneaker sucker or excellent mother? 


Elizabeth P. H. said...

Both my boys were born well after their due dates. I loved answering the question: "When are you due" with "Oh, last week" or "two days ago" and in response the the comment: "You're having a girl because you're carrying all around, not all in front." Yeah - I was carrying all around - because I was a week overdue!

Alex Dumortier said...

Not to mention people who put their hands on a pregnant woman's stomach without asking for permission!

Joe Jarvis said...

If you makes you feel any better, childless couples get plenty of insensitive questions from parents. Nothing like asking a couple devastated by infertility, "So, when are you guys going to start a family?" Smooth.

EHP said...

Joe, I completely agree! I was thinking about that when writing. Also, difficult comments to adoptive parents, parents who use a surrogate, etc. I think those are probably worse in many ways.

Just couldn't wrap it all into the post... but yes, there are clueless comments and questions for everyone.

kayce hughes said...

Ahh yes I remember the days. My favorite was when I could tell an older person was about to dish out advice and she would say "is this your first?" and I would smile and say "no my seventh".

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