Tomorrow begins my last week of maternity leave, so for the past three months wherever I have gone, my two children have followed. With a talkative toddler and endearing newborn, we usually attract attention, which usually leads to awkward, forced conversations with strangers.
These are a few things mothers of young children hear on a regular basis and the responses that always come to mind.
“You’ll miss this adorable age someday.” You mean when they are pooping on the potty and not insisting to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for 9 hours straight?
“I love kids. They’re so honest.” Really? Because when I asked my daughter whose muddy footprints were all over the house she told me a bear’s.
“Sleep when they sleep. Let the laundry and dishes wait for awhile.” Yes, I actually took this advice. That’s why I’m wearing my husband’s boxers instead of underwear and ate cereal out of a used solo cup this morning.
“They grow up so fast. You blink and all of a sudden this is all over.” OH MY SWEET JESUS DO YOU PROMISE??
“You look exhausted.” Thank you?
“Does she love being a big sister?” Well she tried to eat his head with a chopstick this morning. Interpret as you see fit.
Here’s the thing: I think it’s super sweet when other people comment on my kids. And I really don’t mind any of the remarks I mentioned above. If you happen to have said any of those things to me or another mom recently, I can guarantee you I still appreciated it, because you were probably the first person over 2 I had talked to in 12 hours. Here are my suggestions on what to say when you encounter a mother of small children:
“You are doing a great job.” Almost every article moms read are about the things we should or should not be doing for our children. Judgment is everywhere. If a perfect stranger comes up to me and tells me I might actually be succeeding at this deceptively impossible task I will instantly get an extra kick of mommy enthusiasm.
“I can tell how much your children love you.” You’d think it would be obvious with how needy they are all the time, but needing me and loving me feels like two different things. And it’s hard to remember they love you when you’ve been kicked in the face twice already that day.
“You’re children are adorable.” Like every other mother in the world, I know for a PROVEN SCIENTIFIC FACT that my children are the most adorable beings to have ever existed. When you acknowledge this fact I automatically assume you are of high intelligence.
If you catch me in a moment in which my child is throwing such a big fit that a store employee has to pick her up and carry her to my car for me (true story), assure me that it’s not because I am failing as a mother. If you catch me in a moment in which my child is being pleasantly well behaved and using all her manners, assure me that it’s because I am succeeding as a mother.