On the latest episode of her Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin asked her readers to come up with things that they’d rather hear than perhaps other things that actually get said. Since I’ve been complaining about the irrelevant/obvious/condescending/silly things that people say to expecting parents, I figured it would be more productive if I actually came up with some things that would be more supportive and helpful to expecting parents.
ASIDE: This is a GREAT episode. I love her advice about being a good houseguest. Highly recommended!
So, here are some ideas I had:
DON’T SAY: “Enjoy sleeping in now because that’s going to change when you have a baby!”
DO SAY: “Have you worked out a sleeping strategy with your husband for when the baby gets here? I read a great book…”
DON’T SAY: “It’s so funny that you organized your nursery. And your house is so clean! Baby is going to destroy that when she gets here!”
DO SAY: “Organization will be very important when baby gets here. It will help keep you sane, so good job in getting an early start on that.”
DON’T SAY: “You won’t be able to read so much or listen to podcasts like you do now when baby gets here.”
DO SAY: “Podcasts and books will be a real treat when you get a break from baby. Have you chosen your favorites for when you get those opportunities?”
DON’T SAY: “I hope you don’t enjoy sex, privacy, or peace and quiet. You won’t have that again for a few years. Like 18.”
DO SAY: “Don’t forget self care both for you as an individual and your relationship with your husband. Baby will be fine with a babysitter for an evening or a weekend when you need it.”
DON’T SAY: “Everything you love will turn to ashes in your mouth and the weeping of your ancestors will fill your ears as you try to sleep at night when baby gets here. It’s the curse of being a parent.”
DO SAY: “There are so many new and exciting things that you will find, love, and cherish when your baby gets here. I’m so happy for you!”
I think the difference between what I would rather people say and what I’d prefer they stop saying to me is the emphasis on the positive. Obviously, having a baby is a lot of work. It’s going to be hard and emotionally trying. It’s going to challenge my life in ways that I can’t possibly anticipate. So, why do people want me to dread it? Why not tell me things to look forward to in this journey? Why not give me tips for having my cake and eating it too (…as well as one possibly can anyway)?