Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The real truth is that women are more obsessed with breasts than men

I’m going to switch gears now. I’m sure you’re devastated that I’m leaving my sexy reindeer boots behind but trust me, it’s for the best. If I kept going on the boot topic, I’d eventually confess that I have an entire fleet of sexy animal boots. Then you’d probably break up with me.

Yes, now I'd like to talk about work. Specifically my co-worker Sarah, who came back to work today after her three-month maternity leave.

Three piddly months.

In the five years I’ve been at my job, I’ve seen a lot of new mothers come back to work. Some look chipper (it’s true, they’re overly happy to see you); others have that wide-eyed, freaked out look. The look that says Where’s my baby and how can I get back to him? Judging from the size of Sarah's bulging eyeballs, she was the latter.

When I ran into her, she was in the breakroom. She was hunched over, making herself a cup of tea, minding her own business. I was about to ask her how she was doing when a swarm of women burst through the door and started firing:

“Are you breastfeeding? I did for a year. Is the baby sleeping? I let mine cry it out. You should, too. How was your labor? Mine was 46 hours. Did you deliver vaginally? I did. Did you get stitches? I did. Have you pooped yet? I cried when I did. Split me right open. Are you going to have another? Mine are nine months apart. Get it out of the way. Who's watching your kid? Did you put him in daycare? Are you breastfeeding?”

I don’t know Sarah very well but judging from the way she was shrinking into her sweater, she’s not the kind of woman who would hold up a sign like this:

I wanted to grab her by the arm and whisk her away to an underground cave. Or at least fart or belch or pee on the floor—anything that would draw people’s attention away from her.

I understand that some people are genuinely curious about how a new mother is doing, but it seems to me (based on my own experience and that of my friends), that a big part of motherhood/parenthood is inquisition and subsequent verbal annihilation. Think I’m exaggerating? After our children were born, my friend and I were going to write a mommy book. Some of the chapters were:

Why do you care if I breastfeed? Really?

Don't hate me because I get out of the house a few days a week

Does hurting me help you?

Take your homemade organic, gluton-free, farm raised, free range, sugar free baby food and shove it

Motherhood: This shit is hard enough without your two cents

Now look, maybe my friend and I are hanging around with the wrong people or maybe we’re overly sensitive fuckheads who don’t know our leaky breasts from our stitched up anuses, but I was in flashback hell watching Sarah field questions then defend her parenting choices.

Why does this keep happening? When did the word "mother" become synonymous with "interrogate" and "judge"?

And holy divulge! Did Sarah (tired, overwhelmed, shell-shocked Sarah) really need to hear about another woman’s experience with cracked, bleeding nipples? Is the verbal vomit born out of a desperation for female camaraderie? Is it the equivalent of the locker room ass smack? If if is, I think we can do better. I’d give a million dollars to a woman if I saw her smack a new mom on the ass instead of hear her ask, “Are you breastfeeding?”

“Are you breastfeeding?”
“Are you breastfeeding?”
“Are you breastfeeding?”
“Are you breastfeeding?”
“Are you breastfeeding?”

It’s like we’re all trapped in a little tornado of verbal vomit serum and we keep circling and swigging, circling and swigging.

Right down the drain.


Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...



I love the chapter about shoving the home-grown, attachment-parented, red-dye free child. Because as much as I know it would be better for my child, for the love of God, I don't have the energy in me to be that parent.

And the chapter on Motherhood: this shit is hard enough without your two cents... PRICELESS.

Poor, poor Sarah. I hope you butted in and said, "ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE MATERNAL INQUISITION. Let her keep a few personal details PERSONAL. I don't care how many stitches she got "down there" and neither should you!"

I recently rejoined a mom's group, and realized why I left in the first place. I don't give a rat's patootie when your son started walking or what his rash looked like when he drank milk or when his first dentist appointment was. What I really want to know is if you've seen a good movie lately and where is the best place to buy some pants that hide my fat rolls. But, alas, the conversation never rolled around to my choice of topics. We stayed on spit-up and nursing bras and toys with lead-free paint.


Trac~ said...

Awww... poor Sarah - I'm sure she was overwhelmed enough without having to answer to that mob - geez poor girl!

The Mother said...

Oh, Yeah. My pet peeve.

It starts before the baby is born. When you're pregnant. The minute it starts showing.

Suddenly, you're EVERYONE's Business--even total strangers.

I wanted to get a tee shirt printed--


Mrsbear said...

I'm sure poor Sarah got inundated with advice, questions, and judgment way before she even delivered. I don't get it. I had a coworker suggest I get a pedicure before I deliver so the OB wouldn't have to stare at my neglected toes. F to the U, lady.

Great post.

Pricilla said...

Makes me glad I never had kids....

Keely said...

Ugh, 3 months? Poor thing. I wasn't even lucid or rational at 3 months, never mind ready to fend off the verbal tirade.

I think women do that because we're trying to reassure ourselves that somebody else's experience sucks just as much, or more, or something. Or maybe just that someone else knows what the hell they're doing. A friend who had a baby a month or so ago texted me and said, "the baby is waking up at 3am thinking it's party time! What do I do?"

Uh - what makes you think I have a friggin clue??

I dropped Mommy groups for the same reason.

Leanne said...


Um, all women? Let's try and HELP each other, okay?


Suburban Scream said...

So... Is Sarah breastfeeding or not?

Mad Woman said...

Ohhhh that shit used to drive me up the wall. How my breastfeeding/circumcision/sleeping arrangements affect you even remotely?!?!

Ahhhhhh. You really should write the book.

Frogs in my formula said...

Suburban Scream: The funny thing is that I never heard Sarah's answer. Maybe I should ask her...?

Bird Shit and Baby Caca said...

UGH! Some people are just rude!

Kayleen said...

Makes me glad I was forced into resignation... I can only imagine my co-workers. My baby is just over two months old , and I've found its easier to be a bitch than actually answer the questions... my favorite is when they ask about the little dropper of "gripe water" in those snotty "Are you doping up your kid?" tones... I just tell them its whiskey and they shut the fuck up.

Anonymous said...

Do you KNOW how many people told us that we should have our daughter in day care instead of with her DAD while I worked?

Yes, you probably do.

Of course, I'm confrontational, so I'd just tell people it's none of their business and to shut up because I'm the one who carried her in my body for 42 weeks and threw up twice a day every day for 42 weeks so there was no way in hell I would do anything to harm her.

Like I said, I'm confrontational.

Brandy said...

The first day back to work after maternity leave - I told people "do not talk to me about Grayson - I WILL cry" that pretty much shut everyone up.

Otter Thomas said...

The breast feeding questions blew me away. People at our church that we barely knew would ask my wife that. I wanted to punch them all in the head. I don't get it.

Jenera said...

I think it all boils down to this thing that women have about having the worst story so in turn they are the best because they struggled more. They want people to know just how hard they have it.

I didn't have too many problems with this kind of stuff after each kid but that's because I told them all to shut the hell up.

VandyJ said...

Write the book so we can all have something to laugh at and have a respones for the Nosy Nellies out there.

Princess Andy said...

this was an awesome post.

i had never experienced such judgment as that which came to me after i became a mother.

instead of lifting each other up, a lot of women insist on imagining themselves to be the "all knowing"...assuming the rest of us minions need her guidance on making granola pops with goat cheese.



Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I just love Texan mama's response! Its so the response I have too !!

Working Mommy said...

I couldn't agree more!! I totally felt like I was being bombed with questions from everyone - even people I didn't know...and I would have given anything for a sign like the one pictured. I would have carried it with pride!


kyooty said...

I'm a boob nut as it were. I"ve been there and done it 3 times and really sometimes you just want someone to say "I've been there". I though have never worked so that part? I have no idea about. My sister though? Pump queen, and she's also been asked the other end of the spectrum. "so how much formula is he taking" really? seriously this is where your brains go first? First rule of baby, FEED the baby, next follow your instincts.
As with you asking"how are you doing?" they may have been trying to find out which end to assure her from?

How to Party with an Infant said...

3 months. I can't imagine. I'm still on maternity leave. My daughter is 5.

Jeanne said...

Wouldn't it be a "herd" of animal boots?

Having born my daughter at the singularly clueless age of 19, I received none of this. No one my age had kids yet and breastfeeding wasn't in vogue yet.

Something to be said for the dark ages....

blognut said...

I totally love you right now.

I NEVER do this to people, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen it done and I've wanted to rescue the poor new mom and tell her she's doing just fine.

Mama Badger said...

Wow, I just went through this. And I resisted the urge to breathe fire at people.

I think people do it to validate their decisions. It's like when guys ask about a new car.

SLColman said...

Wow do people really act like that??

Eternal Lizdom said...

I have to confess to being one of those moms who will ask if the new mom is breastfeeding- but I usually ask before they have the baby. And I don't ask as a conversation starter or to talk about my own experiences. I ask because I can offer help and support if they are breastfeeding. So if they say "yes!" then I let them know that if they ever have questions or need support, I'm available. I've nursed 2 babies and pumped while working full time. I've suffered many of the maladies of nursing. And it's support from others that really helps a breatfeeding relationship work. So that's why I ask.

The only time I was offended or bothered was when a woman with grown children who was divorced after 20 years of marriage made comments on several occassions about how she couldn't imagine coming to work when her boys were babies and that she had to be a stay at home mom and shouldn't I be doing something to make that happen? I made it clear that he ropinions were not helpful and that her advice should be taken elsewhere.

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