PREFACE: I have thought about doing a post like this for some time, but always shyed away. But, in the last week a few things triggered me to do this. If you are looking at the title of this and are thinking one thing about what I’m about to say, either stop reading or maybe read all the way though. And I’d also suggest holding comments until you’ve read the whole post….or maybe after reading it you’ll just keep your comments to yourself….
And now onto my post….
I’ll be honest-I am one of those mom’s who get the random comments about “how great you look for just having a kid.” And I will say it now, that I do feel pretty damn great about how I look right now.
I’m sure some of you are thinking “Andrea you arrogant bitch, why are you writing about this?” But bear with me.
The trouble with this comment is that it comes unsolicited from strangers. I most recently had a mom say it to me yesterday at Andy’s swim lessons. She was watching her two kids in the lessons, while the youngest sat on the side with her. Yes, it was nice that she said this to me. But what do I say in response?
If I say a simple “thanks” and walk onward, do I not look appreciative? I am not the most exuberant person out there, so sometimes my responses seem cold. Is she expecting me to unload about how I got myself to look like this? What is my workout regime….do I follow a special diet….maybe I am one of those mom’s who can just bounce back to a good figure…
But what if Andy was my adopted son? And I never was even pregnant with him? Then really it’s a stranger commenting on a postpartum body when maybe it was never pregnant at all. What would an adoptive mother do in a case like this? Do they just lie and say “Thanks” or do they go on a whole story about how this isn’t actually their biological child. Then the stranger is in for an earful and really they probably didn’t want to hear your whole life story.
You’re probably still thinking that I should just smile and say thanks and move on. But really, it’s bothering me.
The whole fascination on postpartum bodies is a topic in itself. But every body is different. And for strangers to go up to new mom’s and make comments on their bodies, even if they are in heart “positive” is just a little invasive.
If a stranger comments to me about my body, do they really want to hear the whole story?
Here is the bullet-point timeline
- Always felt awkward looking in grade school due to bad haircut and fro
- Didn’t like that I was taller than most of the girls growing up (funny, I know…I’m 5’3)
- Was on Pom Pon Squad and Track & Field in high school. Naturally muscular and never “skinny”
- Wanted to be “skinny”
- Bad couple months in grade 12 where I dropped close to 15 pounds with the stupid goal to get under 100 pounds
- Hit puberty late after high school probably because of my intense exercise all those years and the body issues.
- Dad dies end of freshman year in college in 2004
- College is a yo-yo of bad food and lots of drinking
- Started running long distance, however, it was maybe one race a year
- Graduated college and met Dan
- Moved to a new Country less than a year later
- Did the crazy ‘pre-wedding diet’ before our wedding in 2010
- Started taking anxiety medication mainly related to the death of my father
- Slowly gained weight after wedding and tried to figure out what I wanted to do for exercise
- Started this blog in 2013 and signed up for a shitload of running events
- Kept running in 2014 and realized if I put my focus on running I could get a whole lot faster
- Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon twice in 2014. Failed.
- Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon once in 2015. Success
- Decided to wait to try to have a kid until after Boston Marathon
- Ran Boston Marathon in 2016. Yay!
- Foot Surgery in June 2016. Can’t run until August.
- Start trying to have a kid in fall
- Find out we are pregnant!
- Have a miscarriage
- Get pregnant six weeks later
- Run four times a week for the first 37 weeks of my pregnancy until I can’t run due to elevated blood pressure.
- Have Andy on October 19, 2017!!!
- Cleared to run two weeks later
- Sign up for 2018 Berlin Marathon
- First week of December have an emergency appendectomy. Can’t run again until January
- Would have to be going back to work if I was still a teacher in the USA. However, I have am fortunate to be taking a year off here in Canada
- Slowly get back into running and going to various stroller/baby mama boot camps
- Run my first half marathon postpartum in April 2018 (farthest distance I had ran since June 2016)
- Keep going to boot camps and training for the Berlin Marathon all while using a running stroller
- Proud of my postpartum body but realize that my body did not become this way overnight
So you may still be thinking I should just say “Thanks” and move on. What the issue I have is that strangers really should be mindful of both pregnant women and mothers before making comments. Really, people should be mindful of just people in general before they make comments. Its one thing to make these seemingly innocent comments to close friends or family, but why do people find the need to say it to strangers?
A friend of mine posted an article that had to do with someone asking a new mother the question “Are you Breastfeeding?” I can see now, as a mom, why this question can cross the line especially if a stranger asks.
IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
Sure, maybe we are breastfeeding. Great. If I answer yes to you, are you going to say “Congratulations?” Maybe I tried to breastfeed but my baby was born so early that my hormones were all jacked and my milk never came in. Maybe we chose from the start to feed our baby formula. Maybe we are choosing to exclusively pump, which by the way counts as breastfeeding. But then maybe that stranger will look at your cluelessly to why you are doing that.
I recognize that a lot of the times these innocent comments from strangers are meant with the best of intentions. I am fortunate that I did not receive a lot of unsolicited advice while I was pregnant, and really I haven’t had a lot of that postpartum either. But I know of friends who have felt the “mom-shame” before and I can imagine it sucks. While the title of this post does not particularly seeming ‘mom-shame worthy” it is still putting a mom in a weird situation that could just be avoided.
Being pregnant with Andy and now being a mom has taught me a lot. But honestly, one of the main things is to just bite my tongue. When you are around new mom’s in a “mom group” and you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s parenting technique…is it really worth arguing about? Same thing goes with social media: someone says something you don’t agree with, say, in the political arena. I’ma math teacher, not a social teacher….I’m not a political science expert. I keep my mouth shut and don’t chime in my two cents. (I do possibly hide some people from my newsfeed just so I don’t have to keep seeing our opposing views)
So next time you feel the need to say something, anything, to a stranger (or even a close friend or family) take a second to think if it is really a necessary comment. Are you saying it to just make yourself feel better? Are you saying it to incite turmoil? Why do you feel the need to say it at all? While we may have been brought up with the ideal that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it…maybe even save some of those seemingly innocent “nice” comments or questions to yourself. You never know what the whole story is about a person. And if you ask, you may open up a whole new can of worms.
SO MUCH YES TO ALL OF THIS. I have a good friend that adopted her baby and got the “you look great for having a baby” thing and she was like, “why wouldn’t I look great?” LOL 😀 YESSS.
I never would have thought of that route myself before having Andy, but I met a mom in a mom group who adopted. And I always thought about how the whole “postpartum” and maternity leave journey can feel different for her if strangers make comments