Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Motherhood
by Samantha on September 21, 2011
A very big thanks to my friend Melissa for the idea for today’s blog post.
I had the pleasure of having a great lunch with her today, and meeting her four-month-old baby girl for the first time (she’s a beauty!).
Anyway, as a first-time mom, she, like all of us, has quickly learned what her daughter’s various cries mean, as only a mother can. After all, she’s the mom, right? Who would know better?
Apparently many other “seasoned” moms.
Melissa told me how incredulous she has been at the unbelievably ridiculous and presumptuous comments people have made to her when she has been out with her little girl.
Image courtesy of www.babywallpapers.net
Her daughter’s cries have been the catalyst for comments such as “she’s hungry, you should feed her,” and “when was the last time you fed her?” as well as other beauties. The subtext is that my friend is not taking immediate care of the needs of her own child.
Where is the line drawn when it comes to providing advice? When did a stranger’s baby become part of the public domain, and the catalyst for derision? Not to sound like a “Debbie Downer” but there are plenty of folks out there who seem to just want to rain on other mothers’ collective parades. Now whether this desire is a result of schadenfreude, a feeling of superiority or otherwise, the result is the same: hurt feelings and often added insecurity on the part of the mother. For a new mother, it’s particularly jarring.
It’s been many years since I had my first child, but I remember the time like it was yesterday. Entering the world of parenthood is daunting at best, and every move that you make as a new mother is one that you question yourself about, as you’ve had no frame of reference about your decisions. Are you doing it right? Why is he or she crying? What have I done wrong? These are all questions that we ask ourselves and we figure it out along the way. The last thing a mother, particularly a new mother needs are comments that shake her already tenuous confidence. Questioning her abilities about her child only makes things worse, not better.
We’ve been having children for millennia and the human race has fared just fine. Like our moms told us, ironically, mom really does know best, especially when it comes to their babies. And so for these lovely people who are trying to “help” via inferences that the already stressed mom is not doing things well enough, kindly back off. The kids are alright.
I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Moms: What are the most incredulous comments that you’ve received from strangers about your babies?