Being a young adult female, I’ve experienced my fair share of backhanded comments and the general shaming that women like to throw at each other.
Being a young adult mom, it has all but doubled. Being a young mom of two with one on the way… I am guaranteed to be the subject of a stranger’s verbal approval/disapproval any time I leave my home, and it’s not only coming from women anymore.
It’s nothing new, but almost half of society seems to think that pregnant women are in need of these “compliments” that are thinly veiled statements of their own personal judgement – which is usually kind of harsh.
Believe me, I get it… Kids are annoying and financially tiresome and to a lot of people, they’re just a burden in general. I understand this is usually why I get scoffed at or experience disapproving looks and comments when I’m out with my kids. I don’t blame anyone at all for choosing to not have children, because it is definitely not for everybody. If you know you shouldn’t be a parent, I commend you for sticking to that.
But, somebody has to do it. Somebody has to raise the generations after us, and hopefully raise them well. It’s completely understandable if you’re not up to the task, but don’t treat women who intend to do the job and do it well as if they’re below everyone else. There are many things that should not be underestimated about mothers, and we are not given enough credit.
Because to be completely honest, being a parent is a hard freaking job to do. Whether you’re married or a single mom or dad, whether you have an entire support system behind you or nothing at all, it is hard as hell to raise any child in any situation in any circumstance.
So when I’m trying to wrangle two toddlers and I obviously look exasperated and exhausted, there is nothing comforting or reassuring about some lady walking by going, “You’ve got your hands full there”, even when she’s trying to make it seem like it’s a compliment by throwing on a big, Glad-I’m-Not-You grin.
Obviously everyone is thinking that same thing when they see me struggling. Hell, I’m thinking it most of the time too. Some people understand that you should keep those thoughts to yourself and move along. For those who don’t understand that and just feel the overwhelming impulse to give their input to a total stranger who’s probably already aware, I’ve compiled a list of actual compliments that you can use in place of your shitty remark.
Just replace whatever derogatory thought you are about to throw at some tired, pregnant woman or that mom with her “hands full” with one of these and I promise, her day will be much brighter.
1. “They must think you’re Super Mom.”
Yeah, it’s cheesy and mushy but it feels much better to hear when you’re in the throes of balancing two cranky boys. Besides, it’s a statement of fact. Despite their tantrums and the hard time they give us, at the end of the day they look at us like superheroes, and nothing beats that feeling.
2. “Your heart must be so full.”
Because it is, and it’s not very often that people consider this. Even when a mom is struggling her most, her heart is generally very full at the end of the day. It feels nice to have that fact acknowledged about our motherhood.
3. “Motherhood suits you well.”
Maybe it’s not completely true, and maybe she looks like she hasn’t bathed in five days and you’re questioning how long she’s lived in those stained yoga pants, but damn it, she’s trying. Being a mom is by no means pretty or glamorous. It comes covered in spit up and hormones and sweat and sometimes even poop.
4. “They’ll be so grateful for your guidance when they grow up.”
It’s lovely to be reminded that reinforcing values or positive behavior in our children isn’t forever hopeless. They may not seem to be getting it now, but they like to surprise us later on with how much of what we say that they actually retain. Telling them “no” a million times a day can feel relentless and it’s hard not to start feeling a little negative. But unfortunately, it is necessary.
It’s very rare that we are reminded that we have to stick to it, even through those really tough moments, for it to really have an effect on them later. This makes us good parents, even if it doesn’t feel so good in the moment.
5. “Would you like some help?”
Here’s a thought: If you come across somebody struggling, you could put all of your judgements aside and offer a hand. Probably 8 out of 10 times, a mom would love a little help but would never ask for it. More than likely, she knows that her children can be seen as a burden and she is afraid to put that on anyone else, especially a stranger.
We need the world to be a little more supportive of moms, and watching what we say to them is a great place to start. You know what they say, “You cannot pour from an empty glass.”
When it comes to motherhood, I know nothing more true.