Real Motherhood Talk ~ When You Assume…

We all know what happens when you assume…

My husband, son and I were arriving at his parents’ house for a BBQ last week when we ran into their next door neighbour. A lovely woman, she proceeded to approach us to get a look at baby Dorian…from a respectable social distance, of course. Dorian is an impressive specimen, if I do say so myself, and she was blown away by how big he is (the height of a one year old at only 9.5 months), how big and sparkly his beautiful brown eyes are, and his three pearly white bottom teeth. 

That’s when the questions started coming, though. How does Dorian sleep? Is he fussy? Do we hold him all the time and “spoil him”? *MASSIVE EYE ROLL* These are your standard questions that new parents are constantly faced with…but then came the kicker… “Are you still nursing?” she asked, looking directly at me.

If you’ve been reading my blog since I became a mother, you’ll know that I made the tough decision not to breastfeed my son due to severe postpartum anxiety and related medication. I did breastfeed for just under a week, but it was a choice that made me feel incredibly guilty and unworthy at first to stop. It’s something I struggled with and agonized at length with my husband about…and here was this woman who didn’t even know me just assuming that I breastfed and might even still be doing it.

We all know what happens when you assume…

I shyly replied, “Oh no, I’m not anymore.” but afterwards I felt ashamed of my answer which implied that I did breastfeed previously. Sure, it’s none of her business, especially if she’s just going to go around making old-fashioned assumptions, but I felt that I should’ve simply said that I couldn’t breastfeed my son to make her pause and think about what she said a bit more closely. I felt too meek and polite, however, and that’s what has me so frustrated about the whole experience.

NO ONE should assume anything about someone’s parenting journey. Period. You might think that certain things about parenthood are standard or universal, but that is absolutely not the case. Different cultures and religions may have practices that you’re not aware of. Parents of various generations might choose to do things differently than others. And, most importantly, what is right for one family is not right for every family, across the board. Even to ask a question like, “Does your baby like his/her crib?” is a loaded one because many parents choose to co-sleep. At this point, even conversations about gender can be inappropriate, and I think it’s best if we make as few assumptions with regards to other people’s children as possible.

We all know what happens when you assume…

And I’m sure no one wants to be caught with their foot in their mouth in front of a new, possibly sensitive parent.

Janille N G

Girl with a Green Heart

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