I recently attended a function with my husband and we brought along the little dude. He likes to look at people, but he is a tough nut to crack. It doesn’t stop people from trying. He’s a bit of a conversation starter in this regard. So for semi-socially awkward people like me, a baby is an immediate common ground for conversation with some. This particular night, a woman walked up to me and started chatting about the baby. Mid-way through the conversation, she asked me “so, what did you do before you were a mommy?”
I was legit stunned. I was so taken aback. And in hindsight, my reaction was probably overkill. Like, why did I get so offended over this? There are so many worse things she could have said to me. But I stumbled over my words a bit. I tried to play it cool. I looked down at the baby, and then back at her. “Well, I took some time off, but I’m still working…” I started out. I felt an intense need to defend myself and scream “I’m still the same person!”. My career is and has always been important to me. Yes, I took a break while on maternity leave. And yes, I am still figuring out how to manage all the moving pieces of my life. But I’m still a mom who works outside the home, and I still identify with doing “other things” besides being a mom.
I am not naive to the fact that we all change when we become parents. Life is forever not the same in both good and not-so-good ways. When I say “I’m the same person!” I don’t actually mean that in all honesty. What I mean is that I personally am still continuing some of the same endeavors I had before motherhood. I’m still pursuing personal and career interests. My offense to this particular statement was the assumption that I had dropped everything of my own to become a mom and support my husband’s career. There is absolutely nothing wrong in doing so, but I believe the question might have better been phrased if she simply asked what I was doing in a different way. I would feel the same way if I was a SAHM and someone automatically assumed that I went back to work after having a baby.
I’m super sensitive at times, and I blame this on hormones and PPA/PPD (working through this!) but I just would like to simply ask that questions of mothers, and all parents, be phrased differently so as not to assume and to not cause undue bias in certain situations.
This sweet woman meant no offense and would probably be horrified that this moment stuck with me so much I decided to write about it. I would never fault her for this. Just writing to “vent” in a way, but also bring awareness to how best we can all be kind and considerate to what one another is going through.
Hi! I'm Laura, a 30-something first-time mom raising her little dude in southern California. It's been quite a first year, and this is my way to try to make sense of it all. This is a safe space for all moms to get some laughs, recommendations and feel like they are not alone.