Perhaps the most severely overused words of 2015 in my world were ‘babies’ and ‘breastfeeding’. I am in that phase of my life where people are voluntarily having children, and if you scroll down social media you’re bound to come across pictures of babies in different outfits, babies at a picnic, babies jet-setting, babies getting sick, babies at weddings, videos of babies saying something only fathomable by other mothers, babies playing toys, breastfeeding products, tips on how to breastfeed while hiking, a breastfeeding club fighting haters on breastfeeding, how you too can be supportive of breastfeeding, and finally breastfeeding fashion.
This is all great. I’m glad we’ve all evolved to raise awareness on motherhood and raising children. But if you’re like me, a non-mother who enjoys the company of children only when they’re clean and smiling, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming when you find yourself in this world, something you have grown accustomed to but is yet to relate. Here I compile five biggest pointers you should learn by heart and apply in your everyday life around mothers and babies, to ensure a great symbiosis between adaptability and the ability to still have friends.
1. When people post pictures of their children on social media, they are not asking for your honest opinion. I have once made the mistake of commenting on a picture of a new born child that "it looks like a tiny Grinch". The mother and I are now not that friendly anymore. It is best to know that every parent thinks their child is the cutest, smartest most adorable thing to ever exist. If a picture is posted, a compliment of some kind is most fitting, or otherwise you should shut it and move on. You should also never refer to the child as a resemblance of some sort unless it is initiated by the parent themselves, especially if the resemblance is to something less cute. Other notes worth mentioning is that you should never feed a baby anything unless granted permission by parents to do so (I fed a child ice cream once and was given a yellow card), to never say a girl baby looks like a boy or vice versa, and to never ever tell a toddler off even when they smear chocolate all over your new and expensive couch throw.
2. Give mothers some credit for even leaving the house. About 85% of my girlfriends are now young mothers, and I have witnessed enough to know that motherhood requires balls. Babies and toddlers cry/vomit/poop anywhere at any time. They also run around non-stop for hours. They will require milk at a moment’s notice. These things are enough to spook someone from ever leaving their residences and face the open world. The fact that your friends are even considering going out for lunch/dinner with you with their kids in tow shows how much they care to spend time with you, and for that you should cut them some slack for arriving an hour late or getting a conversation temporarily stopped due to a ‘code-brown’ situation.
3. Breastfeeding IS natural, even when you don’t think so. Get over it. If I’m being honest, I don’t know how guys not get distracted by breastfeeding, especially if it’s happening within a 5-meter radius from them. It took me quite a while to learn to not stare while the process is ongoing (this applies when the boob is out there for anyone to see), or to not forget what I was talking about as the loud buzz from the breast pumps seem to vibrate across the canyons of the earth. It is a natural, beautiful thing, but I suppose it still needs some getting used to. These days I’m a bit nonchalant about these things as I’ve seen them too many times. The trick here is to always act natural, even if you find yourself feeling extremely awkward about it. Also, the breastfeeding subject should only be brought up with close friends, not strangers. You’ll be surprised how controversial the whole issue is with some people.
4. Don’t ask someone to hold their baby unless you really know your thing. If you’re a feminine girl in your twenties, chances are people would immediately assume you like babies. As we know that this is not necessarily true, do not put yourself in a position to be offered to hold one if you don’t want to. Politely decline with an excuse of worrying that you might harm the child. Parents love their kids, so they will not offer if they assess you to be a high-risk candidate of dropping their newborn or accidentally smacking a baby’s head against furniture. Even if you do like babies, don’t try to hold them unless you know how to conduct it safely. The last thing you need is someone suing you for damaging their prized possession. Sort of like that time I almost sued my sister for scratching my new leather bag.
5. The best way to survive is by being the supportive yet un-opinionated friend. If you don’t have children on your own, your opinion matter very little. It helps to do a bit of research to know what everyone is talking about when the subject of children come along. You should think about your question first before asking them. If something looks weird but everyone else seem to not be bothered by it, just play along. When a mother complains, don’t attempt to try and point out the obvious answer. Instead, be supportive and say things like ‘I can only imagine how you feel…’ because that’s right, you can only imagine. Word on the street is that no one knows what that world is like unless you’re a mother yourself, so be that supportive pal who lives a completely different life of freedom and idleness yet understands the blood, sweat and tears of motherhood.