As if making mom friends wasn’t hard enough, it seems that lately whatever I say to other women is bound to piss her off. The Internet is filled with articles instructing me that I must never, ever, under any circumstances say certain things to certain people because they will be offended and are sick of repeatedly hearing these things from idiots like me. I don’t want to upset anyone and I want acceptance from my peers, so just to be safe, I’ve come up with a list of 10 moms I can no longer speak to.
Stay at Home Moms
Let me start by saying that I am a stay-at-home mom, so I know all about the exhaustion, chaos, and coffee and wine consumption needed to maintain one’s sanity while being the main caretaker of small children. But I don’t get why so many of us go off the rails if someone asks about what we do or don’t do all day. Sometimes I sincerely want to ask other SAHMs how they don’t get bored doing essentially nothing but cleaning, feeding and ferrying children all day—because sometimes it’s hard for me and I’d like to share some survival tips, or at the very least compare the best brands of yoga pants, bonbons, and cheap wine from Target.
I know working moms hate when people ask, “How can you leave your kids all day?” Or, “Is the extra money is really worth it?” Or, even, “How you actually manage to work full time and take care of your family?” Except, I’m sincerely interested, because I’d love to go back to work someday and the idea feels overwhelming. I want to be able to talk to someone who actually balances all of that. I admire what you do. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, but since you might think I am, I’ll shut up.
There is nothing you can say to a pregnant woman that won’t cause her to blow her stack, so when I see a woman with a baby bump waddling toward me, I run in the other direction. God forbid I might ask something truly heinous like “what’s the baby’s sex?” or “have you chosen a name yet?” I also don’t want to accidentally give unwanted advice or slip up and sympathetically mention any of my own pregnancy experiences, so lately, if I’m in a situation where speaking to a pregnant woman is unavoidable, I pretend I didn’t notice her maternity jeans and swollen ankles and feign surprise if she brings up her due date. Then I change the subject.
Moms of Only Children
Me again! Even though I get asked if I plan to have more children (nope!) and why I don’t, I don’t flip out. Answering a simple question doesn’t make me feel like I have to defend my choice to procreate just the once. I think these are valid questions, and if someone judges me that’s their problem. I’d love to know how other moms of only children feel, too, but I know better than to ask. There are lots of reasons that people only have one kid, and some of them might be painful, so I avoid talking to those moms altogether.
Moms of Lots of Kids
I’m fascinated by the dynamics of large families, and I think it would be pretty neat to have a ton of kids running around, if you could handle them, which I couldn’t. My friend is pregnant with her ninth baby. There are so many things I want to ask—how on earth do they find the time or privacy to create a ninth child when they have eight others running around?—but I don’t. Each time I see a mom with several children, I always wonder how she does it. What cool stories she must have, I think. But I smile and talk about the weather instead.
I am extremely supportive of two-mom (and two-dad) families, but abject terror of accidentally offending people, who probably feel more scorn and discrimination than any other kind of parent, makes me wary of saying much of anything. This makes me sad.
So much to be sensitive about here, I get it. Especially if the mom is single or the child is of a different race. To me, the stories of adoption are rich and beautiful and I want to hear them and I want to tell the moms how brave and amazing they are, but I can’t for fear of making them feel singled out.
Moms of Multiples
Twins are cool! I’ve never met triplets, but I wish I could. Moms of multiples have a different experience and I have a natural curiosity about what that’s like. Secretly yes, I do wonder if your twins were happenstance or from fertility treatments, but my interest in this is because biology is awesome and I love hearing about the miraculous roads to parenthood that exist nowadays.
Special Needs Moms
Do you need support, or is that condescending? I want to know about your child’s situation, but you might feel like it’s not your job to educate everyone. You may be thrilled to provide my mortifying, pointing and staring preschooler with an important life lesson, but I have no way of knowing, and asking would be beyond awkward. You have enough on your plate without having to deal with me, and since I might accidentally say the wrong thing, I’m really nervous to say anything at all.
Moms Whose Children Are Throwing Fits
I’ll never offer advice or tell you how to handle your child, especially when they are in Tasmanian Devil mode. As much as I’d love to tell you about that great parenting book that worked miracles for me, and as much as I want you to know about an amazing method for dealing with tantrums, I’m just going to be thankful that my own kid is quiet right now and walk away.
The sad thing is, these are all moms that I’d love to be friends with in real life. I wish that rude, nosy folks hadn’t ruined the art of conversation for everyone, because there are people like me who genuinely seek connection with parents of all stripes. I’ve never been one for wasting time on small talk—I want to get to know the real person I’m speaking with—but I feel like chit chat is all that’s available anymore. Living in a culture where people are quick to get offended, I worry that being on the defensive all the time is preventing us from initiating true friendships and sharing our unique stories.