Becoming a parent is not only a revelation in terms of learning how to keep a small squishy thing alive, learning how to function on little to no sleep and learning how to stop caring if your clothes have another human’s snot or sick on them; it also brings with it a whole new language including some choice phrases.
You probably didn’t regularly use the words poonami, muslin or mombie before you bore an offspring – but now they’re in your daily vocab. But aside from that, becoming a mother opens you up to a whole load of new parenting phrases. Some are fantastic, but others can quite frankly get to fuck.
Here are five of my least favourite mothering-related phrases and questions which should be put in the bin right now and banned for the rest of eternity:
1. Is he/she good?
No matter how much we’d like to search for a reason that our baby keeps us up all night, throws up every time we even think of wearing a dark coloured garment and says ‘daddy’ first – unfortunately their daily activities are utterly random and they do not in any way reveal whether they’re a person of good moral fibre. Until babies start committing terrorist atrocities, setting fire to things, helping old ladies across the street or donating to charity, there is no way to tell which are the bad or good ones! What a silly question!
2. Helping out
The phrase ‘helping out’ is entirely relevant if you are a friend, family member or neighbour of a baby and you offer to look after it for a bit so its mother can get some rest or have a shower. If you in any way birthed, helped create or took on guardianship of said child then you are NOT helping out. You are parenting. And if you’re the parent of a child and you refer to looking after them as ‘babysitting’ then you too can get in the bin.
3. Making a rod for your own back
While it’s an excellent idea to tell a hormonal, tired mother that they’re doing everything wrong and they’re going to permanently damage their child by co-sleeping, rocking them to sleep, feeding on demand etc etc, you could also just try accepting that they’re just doing what they can to make it through the day. If their kid is still co-sleeping at the age of 30 then maybe you can sneak a little mention of rods and backs in! But until then, no.
You can read Alison’s blog ‘I Made a Rod For My Own Back’ here
4. Just you wait
When your baby is screaming in the middle of a coffee shop, or your toddler is lying down in the middle of the park and is refusing to move an inch, the only thing which could make the situation any worse is a smug onlooker saying ‘just you wait’ and then going on to describe how the next stage is definitely the worst. Thanks onlooker, thanks.
5. Maybe he’s tired
Gee thanks, I hadn’t thought of that one. Chances are that when my baby starts screaming his head off, thrashing around like an eel and refusing to be put down, the thought has entered my mind that he might be tired. Unfortunately, the baby hasn’t realised this himself and a stranger telling me he’s tired is not going to help! Unless you are Super Nanny and have some magic way to get the overtired baby to sleep, then this phrase is just not helpful.
However, there are some super phrases or questions you can throw the way of a new mother who looks one screaming fit away from losing their mind. These include:
– How can I help?
– Here, let me have baby for a while so you can have a coffee/shower/nap.
– Would you like some wine/chocolate?
– Is there anything I can do?
– Here is some wine/chocolate/a hot dinner/a cup of tea. I will hold the baby while you consume it.
– You are doing an AWESOME job.
You can read more from Harriet on her blog Growing The Bump.