I didn’t notice with my first baby (possibly because I was wading through the treacle that is ‘That New Mum Feeling’) just how many ridiculous and annoying comments are made by total strangers to new parents.
When my son arrived, however, I was better versed in the language of parenting and more aware of what was going on in the world around me.
Again and again I was asked the same annoying questions and subject to frustrating comments. Let me take a moment to acknowledge that I know the strangers involved were well-meaning and simply excited to see a baby. Intentions aside, it still becomes exasperating after a while, whether you’re a new parent or a veteran.
Welcome to the family. pic.twitter.com/nKSd5kh5bZ
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 23, 2018
Yesterday we received the happy news that Kate Middleton gave birth to her third baby with Prince William. She may be a Duchess, but I bet she’s heard some or all of these:
Is he a good baby?
This has to be up there as the most irritating question I was asked when out and about with my son.
How I responded: ‘Yes, he is.’
How I wanted to respond: ‘No, actually he is not a good baby. In his two short weeks of life, he’s already been done for armed robbery and drug smuggling. Yesterday, I found out he was involved in a plot to defraud a bank. He has a criminal record as long as my arm!’
Of course he’s a good baby! Seriously, can a baby ever be bad?
Do you want more?
At the end of a difficult and stressful pregnancy and days after having my stomach sliced open, people were asking me if I wanted to go through it all again.
How I responded: ‘Oh I don’t know yet.’
How I wanted to respond: ‘More what? Chocolate buttons? Pelvic floor muscles? Oh you mean babies! Just give me a while to get used to this one will you?!’
Do you feed him yourself?
I knew exactly which road this question was heading down. I wasn’t prepared to get into a discussion about how I fed my son with total strangers.
How I responded: ‘Yup’.
How I wanted to respond: ‘Nah, I get someone else to do it’.
Does he sleep through the night yet?
This question is especially irksome when followed up with a comment about how little Jimmy slept through the night at two weeks old.
Inhale. Count to three. Deep exhale.
How I responded: ‘No, not yet!’
How I wanted to respond: ‘He’s three weeks old, I’ve just inhaled an extra-large mug of coffee, tried to put the kettle back in the fridge and the skin under my eyes is so purple it’s almost black. What do you think?’
You don’t want to spoil him
When I think of a spoilt child, Verrucca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory immediately springs to mind. Let’s remember we’re talking about a baby here. A baby. He’s not manipulating me, he’s crying because he needs something.
How I responded: ‘Thanks. I’ll try.’
How I wanted to respond: ‘Oh, so that’s why he cries when he’s hungry, tired, hot or cold? Because he’s spoilt! Thank you for that epiphany!’
Is your husband at home with his feet up?
On occasion, I was asked this at the weekend when out and about with my kids. I hate the stereotyping and belittling of dads as being useless at and uninterested in caring for their children. This question falls neatly into that category.
How I responded: ‘No, he’s at work.’
How I wanted to respond: ‘Your question is loaded with assumptions. You’re assuming that I have a partner, he’s male and we’re married. While these assumptions are actually true in my case, your deduction that he’s at home doing nothing is not. Not everybody works Monday to Friday from 9 until 5. It’s called shift work.’
Of course I just had to humour people because they didn’t mean to be irritating. Knowing they meant well helped me to hold my tongue – I would never want to upset a well-meaning stranger.
Parenting seems to be an awfully public business and questions and comments from total strangers is something all parents, including duchesses, eventually become accustomed to.
Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.