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Worst Thing to Say to a New Mom

My Worst Memory From Month 1 of Parenting

Wouldn't it be nice if we could control the memories that our minds retain — and leave behind those that we'd rather just forget? When I think back to my first Summer as a new mom, there was a lot of happiness, a lot of haziness, and one afternoon in the park that left me too awestruck for words.

The baby was about 3 weeks old, and I was still figuring him out. I was feeling pretty good about myself for getting out of the house (this was a brownstone with a whole lot of steep, concrete steps out front, mind you) with the stroller, the baby himself, and my other "child," our 120-pound Bernese Mountain Dog. Off we went to the park, where the goal was simply to get everyone some fresh air and exercise.

About halfway through our loop, the little guy started wailing. I stopped, looped the dog's leash on a bench, and checked the baby's diaper. Nothing. I tried nursing him. Not interested. Just held him. Nope, not that either. I lowered the sunshade on his stroller and draped a swaddle blanket over it. Still, he kept on crying. There's really no worse feeling for a mom than that of helplessness, and I racked my brain to figure out what else might be wrong (I hadn't yet accepted the fact that sometimes, babies just cry, for no rhyme or reason). Unable to come up with a better plan of action, my crew and I kept on trucking. I figured the best we could do was head toward home, where the poor little guy could at least be sad in private.

And that's when it happened. I'm willing to bet that, in 15 years, if you were to ask me where in Prospect Park this incident occurred, I could still point out the exact spot. A woman — probably in her mid-40s — walking toward me, stopped dead in her tracks. She didn't speak to me. She SCREAMED at me. "I'm so SICK of seeing you women in this park with these babies that you don't even want. He's crying. Pick him up! You're going to traumatize him. Pick him up! Can't you see that's what he needs?"

I was stunned. Literally speechless. A million thoughts were racing through my head, but not a word came out. Not want my baby?! How could she even insinuate something so absurd? She shook her head, muttered some obscenities, and went on her way. Tears in my eyes, I peeked in at my little boy, hoping that he hadn't heard any of this (I know, I know, he was only a few weeks old) and that he knew that, of course, I wanted him, more than anything else in the world. The fact that taking him out and attempting to juggle a baby in my arms while pushing a stroller and walking an enormous dog would have been incredibly dangerous was beside the point (trust me, I'd considered it). She simply had no right to criticize my parenting — especially not in such an extreme way. For the rest of the walk home, I ran through what I should have, could have, would have said had I not been so caught off guard. Alas (thankfully), the moment had passed.

I'd like to chalk this woman's behavior up to some bigger, deeper issue that she had going on in her own life (as the saying goes, "Be kind — everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle"). But regardless of her personal issues, and whatever her reason for reprimanding me really was, I hate that those hateful words are a part of my earliest memories of motherhood. We're all doing the best that we can as parents. If my best at that given point in time wasn't sufficient to a complete stranger, then that's her problem, not mine.

In retrospect, if I had the chance to go back in time and do more than stand there like a deer in headlights, I think that I would have smiled and said, "We're actually just fine — thank you." Then plastered warning flyers to other moms with her face on them all over the neighborhood (just kidding . . . sort of).

Image Source: Thinkstock
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AmandaCharaba AmandaCharaba 2 years

I am not a new mom, I have 4 kids 4 to 13 and People are so rude and have been since the oldest ( Bipolar and adhd) was little, you are done right? seriously is that any of your goddamn business. I am bipolar as well and that usually causes a trigger for me, and I will go in my room and just bawl about what a bad mom I must be for people to say that to .

sharonsallaway sharonsallaway 2 years

The sad part of this story is that in this day and age women are the most judgemental of other women. Most of us are trying our best to do the right thing for our children. We get judged for working or not working, breastfeeding in public or not breast feeding, when we poddy train or how long we allow our child to use a binky. Woman need to support each other choices.

Julia1014 Julia1014 2 years

I wasn't a new mum but...well...I had left my 3mth old baby with my
husband and taken my 3yo to the supermarket. He had just that week been
diagnosed with Autism. With any type of emotion he would squeal very
loudly and high pitched. I was 1/2 way through the store when he
started to get cranky. I started singing along to the radio and dancing,
trying to give him a focus away from all the other stimulation (I know,
I know, but at that point I knew very little about sensory overload). I
couldn't afford to leave without the groceries because with such an
overwhelming week the cupboards were bare and I desperately wanted some
time with my boy. Anyway, an elderly woman walked up to me and my
squealing toddler and said "You need to give that child a good smack". I
was gobsmacked. It was the first time since the dx that I had
encountered criticism of my parenting (though certainly not the first
time ever). I didn't know whether to cry or tell her off...until I saw
the mortified look on her daughter's face and chose to let it pass.
Instead I went home and printed up info cards that explained our
situation so that if I ever encountered a similar scenario I could
politely educate people and remind them that if they can't say anything
nice...

NakiaBrown18756 NakiaBrown18756 2 years

What a jerk!

NakiaBrown18756 NakiaBrown18756 2 years

Unbelievable! I just can't imagine someone talking to me like that! Have these people never met a baby??? HELLO! They CRY sometimes! Lord have MERCY! I probably would have thought of the perfect thing to say, the next day! LOL

NakiaBrown18756 NakiaBrown18756 2 years

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!? Who ARE these people?!?! I can't even imagine being so brazen!!! I'm sorry you had an encounter like that! JEEZ!

JessicaHubbard80522 JessicaHubbard80522 2 years

By the time I was 22 I had three kids. A 2 1/2 year old and a set of twins. I was at Walmart with the twins (only about a week or two old) with my girl in the carrier inside the cart and my boy in his carrier on top of the cart. A lady approached me in the checkout lane and commented about how my son looked yellow. I explained that I felt it was just the undertones in his skin as he was mixed race. At that time she looked IN the cart and noticed my daughter and exclaimed, "Oh, twins!! You know, it's not too late to give them up for adoption." I was speechless and still to this day wish I would have put her in her place. My twins are now 15 and doing just fine!

KaylaShelly KaylaShelly 2 years

I had sort of the same experience when my daughter was about 1 week old... we walked to walgreens to pick up some diapers, I had my daughter in her stroller and oh noo! she was crying! im crouched down trying to pick out diapers (as a brand new mom I was still trying to figure out which brand was best for us and what a good price for diapers was) when a lady and about 3 year old son walks by and says "would you fu**ing take care of your baby!" i just looked up at her and said "watch your language..." i was to tired from only about 10 hours of sleep that week to even care but i still look back at that day... my daughter had only started crying a few seconds before this lady walked by and i was still fairly sore and uncomfortable from my stitches that crouching was painful and getting up from that position was hard.
I get that people have bad days and like to take it out on strangers but give new moms a break esp. if the baby is only weeks old...

Emelie2823447 Emelie2823447 2 years

If you do eventually need someone to post those fliers, I volunteer!

LeslieSmith8039 LeslieSmith8039 2 years

I had the same basic experience. I was at Starbucks on my smartphone trying to transfer money so I could buy my girls snacks and drinks. My two girls were laughing and playing with each other as I fought with my phone (it was giving me trouble). A man sitting across from me reading his newspaper calmly puts down his paper and says, "Can I ask you something?" Expecting an innocent question (like asking for directions) he said, "What the hell are you doing? You're ignoring your kids playing on your phone and obviously they want your attention." I was stunned and shocked. How dare he think I was ignoring my kids. I tried explaining what was going on, but he still was giving me the "bad mom" vibe. We got out of there ASAP and to this day I still wish I had, had the nerve and sense to tell him about all the activities and volunteer roles I did for my girls. I also would have just told him to go "F Off."

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