10 Pieces of Advice for My Totally-Clueless-About-Parenting Pre-Mom Self

old momFormer Self,

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you are an idiot. You are doing and saying things that are totally frowned upon in womanly society. Buffoony things, really. It’s not your fault, you don’t know any better. Womanhood is foreign to you.

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Even though you are a well-intentioned idiot, your current self feels obligated to give you a little feedback. Here are 10 pieces of advice for you ... in no particular order:

  1. Please STOP outing people who you think might be pregnant! Yes, you were clever enough to notice that your friend (or acquaintance!) isn’t drinking at dinner. But that doesn’t mean you need to yell across the table, “You’re pregnant! I know you’re pregnant!” Your friend (and definitely your casual acquaintance) does NOT WANT TO BE OUTED. Did you hear me? That’s why she did not make an announcement. She will do so when she is ready, which will probably be in about 12 weeks, after she has had an ultrasound and confirms that things look promising. It will probably not be two days into her pregnancy ... before the appetizers arrive.
  2. Stop judging speed-walking moms. Yeah, I get it. It doesn’t look like real exercise to you. Yes, your 22-year-old self is managing to prance past these moms with ease. You know why? Because your 22-year-old boobs aren’t milk grenades ready to explode with each step. You don’t know it yet, but the fact that these moms are out of the house and in forward motion at all is a triumph of will over gravity. Your 34-year-old self may achieve the walking part, but will certainly not be adding any speed to the equation.

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  3. Do NOT visit your work friend (a real adult woman!), who has just now given birth. I know you feel that it is your duty to visit her at the hospital AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. That it would be rude, in fact, not to. I mean, you’ve worked with her for like six months already! I know you think that she is hoping for a visit from her random 22-year-old co-worker moments after her first-born has crowned. You know what? She isn't! She probably doesn’t even want to see her parents yet. She certainly does not want to see you before the Apgar scores are in. Send an Edible Arrangement and visit her in a month.
  4. Please stop saying to brand-new parents “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” They will inevitably tell you, “No, we’re all set, thanks.” That is bullshit. They are so far from “all set” that they can’t even see “all set” in the distance. Just take initiative and be helpful. They probably want a lasagna. Make Buy a lasagna and drop it off on their doorstep. Include bread and butter too. And maybe some horse tranquilizers and an enema. And adult diapers if it’s the first week postpartum.
  5. Stop silently judging public breastfeeders. You will someday be a public breastfeeder. Maybe even, on occasion, at a bar. Baby needs a drink. Mama really needs a drink. Avert your 22-year-old eyes and refocus them on your Smirnoff Ice Natty Light.
  6. DO try to remember that infants do not have neck control. You NEED TO SUPPORT THE NECK, 22-year-old me. I really cannot stress this point enough.
  7. When you see a tiny, tiny baby at the Food Court, PLEASE do not exclaim, “That baby could use some more time in the oven!” That baby is probably a preemie. That baby’s parents have probably just gone through a very stressful experience as a result of the oven deciding that time was up a little early. Head immediately to Taco Bell, and avert your eyes from the baby. Also, do not speak. At all. Except to order 3 Crunchy Taco Supremes. They’re not mind readers over at Taco Bell after all.
  8. You really do not need to tell new moms how tired they look. They know they are tired. And they know how they look. Saying, “Wow, you look really tired!” is not informative to a new mom. I am quite sure of this one, as I did not appreciate it one bit when the National Grid guy told me how exhausted I looked the other day. Thanks, National Grid guy. I was unclear on that point. I thought I looked like I just stepped out of a week-long spa retreat. Younger me: Don’t be the National Grid guy.

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  9. Do not question the sanity of the woman swaying back and forth at the grocery store, gently cradling a cantaloupe. She is probably coming off of an 8-hour shift of swaying her colicky baby to sleep and has just now escaped her house for a blessed break. Yes, she is interacting with the cantaloupe as if it’s her child. She can’t help it. It’s like when you get off a boat and still feel the waves on dry land. In just over a decade you, too, will find yourself swaying with a cantaloupe in public, no baby in sight. At that time you will be hoping that people give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you are an exhausted mother rather than a creep with a fruit fetish.
  10. Stop unbuttoning your pants at dinner to make room for more food. It’s not that 34-year-old me finds this offensive. It’s just that current me still does this, and now realizes that it’s a move better saved for post-pregnancy. That way, when you blame it on the pregnancy, your husband and friends can’t accuse you of always having done it. Trust me, younger self, you will want this move to be fresh later, when you really need it.

What advice would you give to your earlier, pre-motherhood self? Don’t worry, your former self can take it.

Written by Liz Faria who spent much of the past decade as a social worker and photographer. Now a full-time mom and blogger, Liz writes about the joy and ridiculousness that is motherhood at A Mothership Down. You can also find her on Facebook.

 

Image via © iStock.com/Scanty Nebula

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