1. "Enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast."
The only people that say that are the ones that are out of the moment. They're feeling nostalgic. In retrospect, life seems like a blurry Norman Rockwell painting viewed at warp-speed.
Those first few months are long. Pain-ful-ly long. You think your child will be six weeks old and awake for eternity. Your life seems like one big witching hour.
Some moments are not enjoyable, and that's OK. But by uttering that seemingly sweet and simple phrase, you make mothers (and fathers!) that aren't appreciating every little moment feel guilty and bad about the parent they're striving to become.
Attention new parents: Many moments SUCK.
There, I said it. And guess what? I still love my child. And being a mother.
Just breathe, try to laugh at yourself, learn from that particularly tough moment and get to the next. I promise, the good will, ultimately, outweigh the bad. And, in the process, you'll become a better mother (or father), a stronger individual, a more compassionate friend and earn your badge in the toughest, most badass club in the world: Parenthood.
2. "Are you loving it?"
What a loaded question.
Who says "no"? Only bad parents, that's who. The kind that don't have fully-loaded Pinterest pages and Facebook profiles one-upping the next with crafty concoctions.
There's only one answer. So you say "yes." You say "yes" and you feel like you're telling a lie. Or, at the very least, a sugar-coated, over-simplified, phony answer that doesn't even begin to explain it.
The truth is you love her (or him). You love that you've been blessed with a baby. You love their little toes, their smell and the sound of them sleeping. You love them sleeping.
But there are plenty of moments you're not loving. Your life has been upended. And, while you, likely, wanted, waited, asked and prayed for it, nothing can prepare you for the reality that is parenthood. The learning curve is a steep one, the adjustment period long and difficult, the hormones a bitch and there are times when that question comes and the answer is anything but "yes."
You are not a failure if that's the case. It doesn't mean you made a mistake, that others are more equipped or happier than you. It's OK if you're not loving it at first -- or at all. It takes awhile to get to know your little one, to adapt to him or her and your new life with them in it. Not everyone is a baby person. Some parents are much better with toddlers or, bless them, teenagers. Admitting your shortcomings and feelings doesn't make you bad parent, it makes you an honest -- and, therefore, better -- one. And it may just help someone else along the way.
3. "Are you breastfeeding?"
TPP. Too personal, people! Since when are a woman's breasts everyone's business?
Beyond being a private matter, many women can't, don't want to or are struggling to get there. Asking this opens up a floodgate of emotions. You'll be sorry you went there. Trust me.
For those that can't or couldn't, I'm with you! I wish I could say the guilt, sadness and "what if's" go away. It doesn't. But, the accomplishments, milestones, smiles and laughter of your budding and beautiful baby sure make it seem a whole lot less important.
For those that are still struggling, hang in there. Seek every outlet imaginable to help guide and comfort you. For many, it does get easier. Or, at least, slightly more manageable and less painful.
But, if it's not working, it's not working. To hell with the articles, consultants, preconceived notions and other mothers that make you feel like less-than. It's your body. Your child. Your life together. Put down the pump and start living it.
4. "You're so lucky."
5. "She's huge!" "He's so tiny!" Or any other judgment regarding someone else's child.
Commenting on someone's weight is not polite. We learn this when we're little. We somehow forget. Or don't think it applies to children.
Most likely, if the child is on one extreme or the other, enough for you to comment, this is not the first time the parent is hearing this. Therefore, it's likely a sensitive subject and best that you keep your mouth shut. I'd be willing to bet there have been talks with doctors and endless hours researching, reading about and taking measures to ensure that their child is at a healthy weight and developing "normally". Drawing attention to it just reinforces their insecurities.
What have we learned? Parenthood is hard. It's overwhelming, fear-inducing, irrational thought-provoking and emotional. New parenthood is all of that on hormones and no sleep. You're already dealing with an extremely fragile soul; any sort of iffy comment that may make them feel worse in any way is just mean. And bad karma.
So, support a new parent this holiday season. Your over-achieving elves are watching.
Follow Natalie Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/natsnextadv