I had a few hours the other morning while the smallest was at pre-school and I popped into town to pick up a few bits in peace. I went into a coffee shop (treat!) for a cheeky hot chocolate and a muffin (double treat!). There was a Mum in the queue behind me with a very new baby (I’m guessing sub 8 weeks).
Suddenly, another customer approached her and said, “Hi xx, I’ve not seen you for ages!” And so started a slightly awkward conversation between what appeared to be old school friends who clearly hadn’t seen each other for some time. The usual chat ensued about what they’d been up to and then the baby questions started… And oh, this poor new Mum went into PR mode!!
Making out it was all great and wonderful and fine, when she was clearly knackered, feeling a bit frazzled and desperately trying to look like she was totally on top of her shit to this now almost stranger (as they clearly hadn’t been in touch for years!). Please note, the assumption is that said old-friend-now-practically-stranger was childless as presumed by her figure, lack of huge eye bags, trendy outfit not creased or with sick on and immaculate hair and make-up. Now I’m not saying all mums automatically turn into scruff bags when they have kids but this was not a girl who looked, or acted like!, she had children of her own… Anyway, I digress…
I had to smile at the PR version of this new Mums answers, and also really feel for her. We’ve all done it. Particularly when faced with an old friend or acquaintance, even with current and dear friends, it’s very hard to admit that you’re drowning a bit and to instead make out life is a doddle with a newborn, or a child of any age for that matter. I used to work in PR before I had my own children so I of all people know how to sugar coat the truth!
So here are my five ‘favourite’ questions fired at new Mums, and the PR version of the answer, as well as the reality version!! Oh to be able to give the reality version every time! 😉
Q: How was the birth?
PR answer: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad… (uncomfortable silence as new mum grimaces at the memory…)
Reality answer: Bloody agony, when the head crowned I thought I was going to split in two, my language turned the air blue and the thought of doing that again any time soon makes me want to poke my eyes out!
Q: How’s feeding going?
PR answer: Ok thanks, takes a bit of getting used to but I’m persevering
Reality answer: None of your business!! But if you must know, it’s uncomfortable at best, my nipples are shot to pieces, my tits if unsupported make a break for freedom towards my knees and I leak at inappropriate moments… Tell me it gets better…?
Q: Is he/ she sleeping OK?
PR answer: (at best) I’m manging to sleep when he/she does and the nights aren’t too bad
Reality answer: I’m so tired I could literally curl up and sleep in the middle of a rave and still be dead to the world. My eyes feel like sand paper, if I yawn I could probably swallow your head and if this little monkey doesn’t sleep for more than one hour soon, I think I might lose my mind. And repeat for the next 18 months…!
Q: How much did he/she weigh?
PR answer: the actual weight
Reality answer: does it matter!?! why the hell do you care and why do people always ask that!!??
Q: When are you/ will you be going back to work?
PR answer: I’m off for a year and then I’ll be going back hopefully 4 days a week
Reality answer: Dragging myself into work, looking vaguely presentable and resembling a professional at this moment is at best highly unlikely…God knows what state I’ll be in this time in a year… I might not want to ever go back as this little one has captured my heart so much…
Note to self: practice not getting snot and sick and chewed up biscuit smeared all over my clothes in preparation for possible return to the office…
So if you see someone who’s just had a baby and feel the need to ask any of the above, pause for a moment and perhaps stick with, “Isn’t she/he beautiful, you look like you’re both doing really well, let me buy you a cup of tea” and leave it at that.