Friday, August 14, 2009

Guest Post: Don't Be Mean To New Moms

This is a (heavily edited) version of an e-mail I recently received. I've removed all the specifics, but this new mama needs to get something off her chest, and as always, I am here to help. She says:
Don’t be mean to new moms…they’ve got enough to try and adjust to!

You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through. It started with one female relative telling me that I need to dress nice and care about my appearance so that my husband wouldn’t get a "wandering eye." She said that I needed to start caring again, wear make up everyday and buy some high heels and some cuter clothes. Next, a completely different female relative basically walked in the door and started her tirade, it followed a similar vein. However she started by giving me a workout video. And then she gave me a dress in a too-small size. She’s like, “Just save it, after you do the video, it’ll be perfect!!” Then she tells me that she and other female relatives have been talking about how I really need to go on a shopping spree and she said the same damn thing, “You don’t want your husband to start getting a wandering eye!”
(Amy here - this is the part that broke my heart, because this reader is a BEAUTIFUL person, whose body has just done an amazing thing - it created LIFE - and she doesn't deserve to have people making her feel this way...)
Do I look that bad? I mean, you’ve seen me, I know I like to wear jeans and I frequently put my hair up in a messy pony tail, but am I so ugly and fat that my entire family, on both sides are intervening to try and help me?

I was crying a lot and then I realized that I had a baby a scant 5 ½ months ago, I’ve gotten NO sleep, and even less “me” time. If my husband leaves me right now because I’m not as beautiful as I used to be then HE’S a bastard and I deserve better.
(Amy again, butting in to say AMEN, SISTER!)
I know that fitness and looking nice are important, but I am one of those weird people that think that love shouldn’t care what you look like, and should understand that I’m adjusting to being a new mom and that my body is a milk factory. That I’m not a movie star and I have to work and I don’t have time to pay a personal trainer to make me pretty while the baby is with a nanny. I live in the real world, and in this world I believe people should be nice to new moms. I would NEVER tell someone who had a baby recently that they look like shit. It’s just adding on to their already mounting anxiety of a million and one things. It’s not like I don’t see my stretch marks, my frizzy ponytail, etc. I see them, but leave me be! At least for the first year. It’s just too much.

It’s the kind of thing that will push women from PPD to PP Psychosis. I mean, I need a little break from my female relatives' criticism, and especially from the criticism of my husband's female relatives!

I haven’t told my husband about this, mostly because part of me is afraid that he would say, “Well, sweetie, it might be time to hit the gym.” And then with no champion, no white knight that loves me if I’m thick or thin, I might just really hit my ultimate breaking point.

Anyway, I know it’s a little dramatic, but it’s true. I thought if you haven’t done a blog like that it might be a good topic.
Ok, seriously. Don't you just want to hug the stuffing out of this poor girl? She's trying to adjust to motherhood, raise her first child, work a full time job, recover from PPD, and deal with an overbearing family, meanwhile the people who should be building her up and telling her YOU CAN DO IT are tearing her down.

You know who is in charge of the fitness industry? The food industry. I promise that if we looked hard at where the fitness industry came from, we would find food industry executives who said things like, "Gee, we can't make any money off of this ice cream... Let's sell exercise videos with women who have genetically perfect bodies (or surgically modified bodies - whole NEW industry!) so that people who eat our ice cream will hate themselves and buy our videos. Then, because they're SOUL CRUSHINGLY BORING and HIDEOUS they won't do the videos, which will cause them to hate themselves and eat more ice cream.

People, that's smart marketing.

My guest blogger needs to learn a phrase, and it rhymes with "Fut the huck sup!" Barring that, she needs to grab a page out of Miss Manners' book, the one about how to respond to rude and/or annoying and/or hurtful comments. I think a well-placed, "Why would you say such a thing to me?" would go a long way toward correcting the appalling behavior of her well-meaning but cruel (and thin) female relatives.

In a similar situation, I think I would've said, "Well, my husband and I are planning to be together until we die, so getting him used to these 20 or 30 extra pounds is just practice for when I'm 112 and wrinkled and he has to change my adult diapers."

That mental image would've shut them up.

So, the take away, folks, is that everyone needs to be nice to new moms. Or else I will assault you with mental imagery.

Let's all leave loving, supportive comments for today's brave guest blogger, ok? I'll start:


Your turn...


Opus #6 said...

If her husband has ANY concerns about her fitness, he should not mention it directly. He could perhaps get fitted for a Baby Bjorn and they could both go for a hike with the baby. Or a nice long walk after dinner as a couple. Or a long walk on the beach if they live near a coast. Really. There are ways to encourage your spouse that don't include nagging or hurtful comments.

Lesley said...

FIVE MONTHS? Are you kidding me? That is five months AFTER delivering a human being which is right after carrying that little human for NINE rollercoaster months.

I couldn't even cook a dinner until my child was one, much less "look cute". My child is 2 1/2 now and I am only beginning to feel like I'm getting my body (and brain) back.

Frankly, I'm pretty horrified and depressed at these family ladies thinking so little of hubby to think he'll get the wandering eye. That's so insulting. If my family ever had those thoughts (about my post-partum un-cuteness), I think they'd also know how strong my swift kick is.

Don't let them get you down. You are beautiful in no makeup and ponytail. You CREATED a HUMAN!

Charlotte said...

That poor new mommy! Her "concerned" relatives are messed up! Who in their right mind would think that those comments and actions could possibly be helpful?

My suggestion is to buy them each a copy of Emily Post's manners book in hardback, and use it to smack them upside the head!

My mom told me that it took your body nine months to adjust to carrying the baby, you should give yourself AT LEAST nine months to get it back.

And another thing, your baby doesn't care what your dress size is, and chances are neither does our husband (if he does just smack him with the afore mentioned book before you deliver a copy to your other relatives, a warm-up if you will).

This is a hard time and you are doing awesome. Blow off those harpies and go love on your baby, that's who really matters.

Melisa with one S said...

Oh my goodness, Amy is totally right, Ms. Guest Blogger. Don't pay any attention to the people who need to keep their traps shut.

You already know that, as a mom, you have bigger things to worry about. (your little cutie!) So turn on the "Ignore" feature when the comments from female relatives start coming in, and focus on taking care of your baby and FEELING good from the inside. That's the most important thing.

Sending hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Sheesh! I completely agree with you (all)! My little one is 16 months and I'm just now at a point where I can make a concentrated effort on losing the (substantial) weight I put on. I also had the misfortune of NOT being one of those lucky ladies who shed weight just by saying "nursing". No sir, I held onto nearly every blessed pound until I stopped nursing at 10 months.

And never ONCE have I wanted to get back into shape to prevent DH from having "a wandering eye". Screw that! This is for me and my future health and the yet to be conceived 2nd baby! It's just a fringe benny for him if I turn out to be smokin' hot! :)

At any rate, I say love yourself as much as you love your baby and realize that these women can only affect you as much as you let them. You have to give them that power for them to wield it. Sounds trite, but I'm a big believer in not wasted the precious amount of energy I have these days on people who don't ADD something positive to my life!

Keep up the good work, Momma! *We're* rooting for you and know you're doing an awesome job!

Cate said...

Our culture is so wacked-out regarding weight loss after baby; it is actually NOT good for mom or baby to lose weight after birth "celebrity style". Not good for mom because it contributes to the system being out of balance, thus more post partum depression, and not good for baby because where do all those toxins that are stored inside fat go when the fat melts? Right: into your breastmilk!

I would take a good look at the women who are criticizing you and see if you would want their lives: are they happy? Do they have good relationships? Are they people you would like to be like? I'm guessing that there is a good chance that what they have does not remotely resemble what you would like in your life. So, even though it's difficult to ignore them, and when they criticize, it feels like the whole world is criticizing, they're probably just the only ones who are rude and ridiculous enough to stick their noses where they shouldn't. Have strength! Love your fullness! I'm sure your baby does. :)

Heidi said...


I really wanted to write something profound. Something that would make your friend feel better about her ridiculous relatives. Something helpful and enlightening, because we've all been there, even if only in our own heads.

But I can't get the adult diaper image out of my head...

Jen said...

My first thought here was that maybe her "DH" has said something to them... why else, unless the stars were just in perfect alignment, would they say something like this 1) period, and 2) on the same day.

Before criticizing them instantly, I'd be doing a thorough investigation of HIM and what he may not be saying to YOU.

But again, I tend to be a bit suspicious of people anyway...

Jen said...

Correction: Ok they didn't necessarily say it on the same day, but instead in the same verbage. Still.