Socially Acceptable Answers

Dear yayas,

How do I answer people’s constant questions about motherhood and my baby? I feel like people ask questions all the time like “Did you just fall in love with the baby the second you laid eyes on her?” or “Don’t you just love being a mom? Isnt’ it the best?” The truth is, I didn’t fall in love the moment I met my baby. I was overwhelmed and in a lot of pain. The truth is, no, I don’t always love being a mom. I never really pictured myself as a mom, so it’s a weird adjustment for me. And it doesn’t feel like “just the best,” but if I were to answer, “no, it’s not the best…sleeping is the best” I feel they would get super offended. It’s not always a happy topic for me. I know people are just trying to be nice or make conversation, but I’m just tired of the constant superficial questions that I feel like I can’t answer truthfully. I’m also tired of people assuming that because my answers are seen as “negative” that I must be suffering from some sort of post partum depression when I’m not. Thoughts on what to say, how to answer, or even get the questions to stop? 

– Awkward Answerer

You don’t really owe anyone an explanation. You could easily formulate a few tactful answers so you aren’t drawn into a deep discussion and use those when asked questions you aren’t wanting to be 100% transparent in answering. For example, you could say “I love when my baby does…” or “The best part of being a mom to me is…” or “The first time I saw my baby I was awestruck.” I think you’re right, people are trying to be polite and make conversation, so I’d stick to a few things that you find fulfilling about motherhood and then steer the conversation to a topic you’re more comfortable with.  – Cortney

It seems that babies always spark the best memories of other people’s experiences and their wanting to “share.” I completely agree with Cortney’s advice. Re-direct the conversation and do not feel bad about anything! – Taren

In my experience I try to be honest in my responses to those questions, though I think it is possible to put your honesty in a positive light. You never know when another mom might be relieved to hear that motherhood isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time (or even most of the time sometimes). Like with my first born, all I remember after he was born was how excited I was that the nurse snuck me a turkey sandwich in the labor and delivery room! I think it’s perfectly ok for you to say, I love my baby, but I also miss my job, or seeing my friends, or whatever it is you miss about your pre-motherhood life. If they are offended, that is on them, not you. But, if these are strangers or acquaintances asking you these questions, I think a quick canned response and changing the subject is totally appropriate. As the baby gets older these types of questions should slow down. Hope this helps! – Lorelei

It sounds like a classic situation of “Hi, how are you? Good, how are you?” meaningless banter about babies. A lot of times people ask questions without stopping to actually hear the answers. I suppose if it’s someone you really don’t want to talk honestly with about motherhood you could put it back on them, “Oh, was that how you felt when you met your baby? Love at first sight?” or “Oh, is that your favorite stage?”

You’re really onto something true about the society in which we live. It’s like we’re not allowed to present anything other than “positive” emotions or feelings. Any other natural human emotion that we ALL feel (like sadness, disappointment, frustration, exhaustion) are all unacceptable to some people, which is really bizarre because (again) we ALL feel these normal emotions from time to time. Moods move up and down in natural reaction to changes. Pretending that it’s all sunshine and rainbows all the time serves no one. Find a few friends that you can use as confidents when it comes to your true feelings about motherhood. Rest assured you are not alone in your feelings about motherhood regardless of what “social norms” might be signaling to you. – Lori Beth

Your feelings are yours and it’s okay to feel that way. It’s probably not realistic to get the questions to stop altogether because people are simply making conversation over a common topic, though deflecting the questions and then swiftly changing the topic would be my advice. Parenting is a roller coaster of emotions and a journey that will evolve over time. I find that the more I try to roll with whatever parenting is handing me, the easier it is to handle the other things too. – Diana

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