Until, that is, you have a baby.
It's a phenomenon I've spent a lot of time studying. New parents -- particularly new mothers -- welcome Junior into the world and say a simultaneous good-bye to all sense of propriety and decorum. And I'm not talking about breast-feeding at the DMV. I'm talking about how you can't have a conversation with them anymore because every time you ask for their thoughts on, say, the Keystone oil pipeline or how JLo's clothes continuously manage to trick gravity, they respond with a story whose moral is two-dimensional: (1) they are the best mother ever; and (2) their child was FedExed overnight from Heaven. The person suffering from sleep deprivation quickly becomes you, because the constant stories about Junior lull you into a fatigue typically associated with a coma or an extended Easter homily.
How it is these mothers don't recognize the multiple Emily Post laws they're breaking and the numbers of people they're sending into the loving arms of a zoloft prescription had me stumped for a long time. I chanted with Buddhist monks, I tweeted with Ashton Kutcher, and I conferred with the authority on all things parenting, Angelina Jolie, all in a bid for clarity on the issue. Finally, after a night of partying with Dina Lohan, it hit me.
These poor women don't know that what they're doing is bragging. They're so whacked out on hormones and have huffed so much Desitin that their neurons are no longer firing on all cylinders.
If I started this blog for any purpose, it was to provide a public service. And if there's any public service I would most happily provide, it is helping moms to remain the interesting, well-rounded, sometimes self-effacing gals we all kind of liked pre-zygote.
And thus I birthed the following To Don't List*
* This list should be followed in public circumstances only. By public, I mean anyone outside of you and your spouse/partner/sperm donor/surrogate/anyone else who may have contributed to the conception and delivery of your child(ren). In the private circle of you and X, I wholeheartedly encourage you to marvel at the genius and wonder that is the specimen you have contributed to the world. He/she is really awesome and you should love him/her above all others. Just don't talk about it/do it in front of anyone else.
A. Don't talk about how your kid is such a wonderful sleeper. If your poor listener has kids, they may not be good sleepers. They may not sleep at all. Hearing about how your little Junior has slept great since you wheeled him home from the hospital on a golden sleigh might meet the legal definition for justifiable homicide. Even more hilariously, your poor listener's kids might beat the pants off Junior when it comes to their number of hours on snooze control, and then you look like even more of an idiot. But if your poor listener does not have kids, they are just left to wonder why you won't shut up about something your poor listener does -- indeed, looks forward to -- for as long as he/she possibly can on a nightly basis.
B. Don't talk about how your kid is such a great eater. That just prompts your poor listener to think about Junior at your boob. That's awkward for everyone. Moreover, your poor listener might be on a diet and think that you are subliminally telling them the diet is a bust because they, too, are clearly still a great eater. Finally, if your poor listener does not have kids, they are just left to wonder why you won't shut up about something your poor listener does -- indeed, looks forward to -- for as long as he/she possibly can on a daily basis.
C. Don't talk about how your kid's bowel movements are so regular. That's disgusting. Only your kid's pediatrician needs to know that.
D. Don't talk about how your kid is THIS CLOSE to crawling. They're not. They're just trying to worm themselves away from you because you're embarrassing even THEM with all the bowel movement stories.
E. Don't talk about how your kid is so happy. Again, they're not. They're crying inside. It's hit them that they're stuck with you for life. The smiles are a coping mechanism and an attempt to make themselves cute to potential adoptive parents.
F. Don't ascribe preferences or strong suits to them. Babies can't recognize colors. Their world is literally black and white. So don't try to tell people that they're "Mama's little heartbreaker" or "so psyched to watched the playoffs with Daddy!" or "big zac Efron fans." Your attempt to disguise your own need for love, companionship, or a date to The Lucky One is fooling all of no one.
G. Don't ever say your baby is "just the best baby." Every parent thinks that about their baby. And regardless of who your poor listener is, in response to hyperbole such as this, that poor listener is now forced to make a mental Rolodex of all the ways your baby sucks. So you're essentially prompting the exact opposite conclusion than the one you were trying to line-drive home.
I'm sure I'll refine this list over time, and expand it to encompass the toddler/pre-school years just as soon as I gain more perspective on them myself. But if the above 7 rules are too much for your exclamation-addled brain to compute, let's boil it down to these two take-aways.
- People have been having babies since the dawn of time. That's how we all got here. And there's a lot of us. Look around you. There's a baby. There's a guy who used to be a baby. Ad infinitum. So by having a baby, you have actually not done anything really unique. In fact, you'd join a more unique set if you could accurately identify, in order, the U.S. presidents.
- There's an easy rule of thumb to all this. My lucky followers on Twitter (it's a complicated application process) already know this. Until your baby can do something a domesticated pet cannot, it is not news.