by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
You know what I hated about pregnancy?
Not the nausea. Not the weight gain. Not the awkwardness or discomfort of my organs being pushed to unapproved places. I disliked those parts, but I didn’t hate them.
What I hated were all those comments that reminded me that, really, I wasn’t a mother yet.
Hm, a Civic? Have you thought about a larger car?
Good luck finding time to exercise after the baby is born.
Better enjoy your sleep now because once that baby comes out…
Cloth diapers? Really? Why not save the environment in a different way? You’ll see…
You don’t want an epidural? Well… okay…
As a pregnant woman, I had no credibility as a mother. I didn’t know anything. I hadn’t done anything. I could read books and talk to other women, but I didn’t have any experience to bolster my credibility. So decisions that I made about birth and taking care of a baby were sometimes met with pursed lips. Or laughter.
I knew that my resume as a mother was still half-filled, with nothing but sonograms and gift registries. But I hadn’t expected this to be considered a flaw.
This strange, transitional space is hardest on first-time mothers. They haven’t taken on those little identifying tags of motherhood. Breastfeeding mother, working mother, co-sleeping mother, mother who uses time-out, mother who feeds her children pizza, and on and on and on.
To be fair, not all mothers had these judgmental reactions. Some women managed to say the perfect thing. Oh, I loved the second trimester. It was my favorite part. Or, Prenatal yoga helped me too! Or, Those over-the-belly maternity jeans never worked for me either. They were too itchy.
These mothers didn’t measure me against themselves. Instead, they traveled back in time to remember how they felt at my stage.
In some ways, the first pregnancy is that purest form of motherhood. It’s the only time in our lives as mothers when these tags of motherhood don’t attach for long. No one talks about that brownie-eating mother or the gestational diabetes mother. We don’t talk this way because we know pregnancy is not permanent.
But you know what? Neither is every moment of motherhood.
You will only be the mother of a 1-month-old for one month.
You will only be the mother of a 1-year-old for a year. And so on.
So it was maddening how quickly the comments started coming after my daughter was born.
Wait until you have two!
Slow down, everyone.
Stop measuring me against your timeline.
Because you make me feel that where I am in this journey of motherhood is not good enough.
That I haven’t done enough to earn the title of “mother.”
But–for the sake of argument–let’s summarize where these comments take us…
Wait until you have three! Then you’re outnumbered!
Wait until they’re in school! Then all the afterschool stuff begins!
Wait until middle school! Oh, the hormones!
Wait until high school! Then, they really don’t care what you think anymore!
Wait until college! The tuition payments!
Wait until they’re moving out!
Wait until they move away… Wait…
So this is why I choose to be grateful for today.
This is why I take that extra moment to meet that first-time mother where she is.
And why I hope you, more experience mother, will do the same for me.