Visiting my sister-in-laws when they all had children before me was always a bit unusual for me. I had no babies. I had no upcoming plans for babies. I was a baby of the family, nor did I really “play” babies growing up.
But now, three kids deep? Well… now it’s a different story.
A mom nursing before I had children? Look away! Look away! But then, of course, nursing was this strange, intriguing unknown, like a wreck on the side of the road--you can’t not look! Divert your eyes! And definitely don’t talk about it. I mean…what do you even say about nipples?
A mom nursing after I had children: What? Oh, you’re nursing. I didn’t even notice. Now that I did notice, how is that going? Pain? “Oh, I remember the days of…” Blisters on your nipples you say? Sore nipples? What cream do you use on your nipples? Turns out there is a LOT to say about nipples!
The noise before I had children: Baby is crying? Why is baby crying so much? Like… seriously isn’t there something to make it stop? Besides the nipple, of course. Because that’s a whole other thing I don’t find comfortable. Child, silence yourself! I cannot think. My brain has actually stopped functioning. How, sweet mom friend, are you still able to focus enough to speak coherent strings of wording?
The noise after I had children: Go on, keep talking mama. Oh that noise? I didn’t even notice. It’s the soundtrack of my life. Really, here. Let me take baby. You go take a shower. A short walk. I have earplugs in my purse if necessary, but really my ears--like my nipples--are pretty numb.
The mess before I had children: Let me do your dishes. I mean, I get that you have a baby and all, but you’re home all day. Isn’t there twenty minutes for dishes? WHAT is that on your sleeve...and your shoulder…and your thigh? I see a broken crayon on the ground--I just saved baby’s life from choking…or blue-poop-itis.
The mess after I had children: Let me do your dishes. I know you have a lot going on. Is that poop or chocolate on the couch? Eh, a wipe-ie will take care of that. And a wipe-ie for the counter and a wipe-ie for the table and your shoulder. Let me get that for you.
What do I say? Before I had children: Whatever you do, don’t talk about nipples. And definitely don’t look! Say something about cute babies. And a joke about how they aren’t getting sleep at night. I hear that’s a thing? Of course I didn’t get much sleep either hanging out with friends last night and finishing up a paper. Totally the same thing I imagine.
What do I say? After I had children: Stop talking. Just listen. Hold back the ten thousand memories I want to share and just be there for this mama…okay, one memory won’t hurt. Then listen.
Lynette is a mom of three children from 20 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.