My nephew just turned six months old. Since my sister, Fay, and her family live in California and I haven't met our nephew in person yet, she keeps us in touch with his developments via photos and Facebook. This morning I awoke to the cutest pictures of his most recent developmental accomplishments -- starting to crawl!
The pictures took took me right back to when my three children were babies. The excitement of that first roll, first stretch, the first time they leave the blanket on the floor and find themselves under the sofa. I was about to reply, "Life will never be the same!" and then I stopped myself. Is that a great thing to say?
Isn't it annoying when people say things like that to you when you have a baby? It got me thinking about other similar comments such as, "It goes so fast." I remember that every time someone said that to me that I was filled with a sense of fear. Was I getting absolutely every last minute of joy from this stage? If it is so fleeting I better remember every moment. If I didn't manage to do that would I have lifelong regret wishing I could remember more of the baby stage?
Another, very common, and similarly unhopeful comment that came to mind was, "enjoy it now! Before you know it they will be a teenager talking back to you." Geez, how unhelpful is that? Now I am wondering if I am enjoying this stage as much as possible and worrying about a supposedly inevitable teen stage. Comments like these just seem to set us up for a less than harmonious experience.
Does it really go fast? Sure, if you feel that the baby stage is as good as it gets and you don't appreciate every stage for how special it is. Is it inevitable that every teen relationship has to be characterized by talking back? Sure, if you expect it to be. But it doesn't have to be.
It is fascinating to me to contemplate how uncreative so many of these comments are. The scary part is that they are so commonplace that they really do frame our collective experience of parenting.
With this in mind, instead of celebrating my nephew's new developmental stage with an unhelpful comment, I responded with, "Enjoy celebrating his new explorer status."
What unhelpful comments have you experienced and what could we all be saying instead?
This blogpost originally appeared on Triangle Mom2Mom