You Can’t Touch This: Motherhood and Social Boundaries

You Can’t Touch This: Motherhood and Social Boundaries

Why is it that normal social boundaries fly out of the window when you’re pregnant?

You know what I mean; you’re at your desk at work making some important decision, generally kicking ass and then a colleague comes along and places their hand on you uninvited. Not okay, right? Except, it seems, if that hand is on your pregnant belly and they’re making an equally uninvited comment about how big/small/glowing you are. It’s not just your belly that becomes a free for all. I had a colleague touch my hair and tell me how healthy it was looking. Um, can you not?

I probably sound really ungrateful. I mean it’s really just people showing an interest and getting excited for you, but is it too much to ask that they do it without physical contact?

It turns out it doesn’t stop once the baby arrives.

Any new parent that has had a complete stranger peer into the buggy and wave their grubby hands in their newborn baby’s face will know how hard it is to stay polite in that situation. One of the very first times I ventured out for a walk, two older ladies stopped to look at my daughter. They were trying to tell me how cute she was but I couldn’t concentrate on any of that. All I could smell was cigarette smoke on them and I had to fight an urge to scream at them to back off. It was only the fear of acting like a crazy lady in the middle of the street that stopped me.

As if just fielding people’s amorous advances towards your baby wasn’t enough, having a small person with you in public seems to mean anyone and everyone feels they can pitch in with their best commentary and advice, like the classic:

‘You look tired. Is baby not a good sleeper?’

Sadly not, baby is only three weeks old and still thinks night is day. At any given moment, including at 3:30am, she decides that she is the most hungry she’s ever been and she must be attached to me by the nipple at once and remain there until the end of time. Thanks for asking though.

Sometimes people’s comments are just plain rude. I was once told that the fact that my then 5 month old preferred being held by me than anyone else was because she was spoilt! Well, if giving her all of the love and cuddles she wants counts as spoiling then so be it.

Now we’re busy weaning there’s a whole other area of interest for people to involve themselves in. Many opt for that most cherished phrase when addressing their issues with what you’re doing; you should. ‘You should be careful she doesn’t eat too much or she might be overweight when she’s older.’ Actually, babies don’t really know how to overeat. ‘You shouldn’t be giving her sweet things, she’ll have a sweet tooth.’ She’s just eaten a whole pot of green veg and now she’s having a strawberry. I think she’s okay. ‘You should be careful she doesn’t choke with those big bits of food.’ Thank you random member of the public, I hadn’t actually though of that. Now that you’re here though, everything will be okay.

Just one question: When do those social boundaries come back?

You can read more from Sarah on her blog, Raising Skye

Sarah Holmes

Mum to Skye and Max. Partner to Kevin. When I'm not complaining about being chronically sleep deprived I like to be out exploring the world with my small people. Currently on maternity leave with my second and figuring out how to be a mum of two, with lots of help from wine and chocolate! You can read more about our adventures on my blog, Raising Skye.

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