Childrearing

How Not To Talk About ‘The Joys of Motherhood’

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This week, STFU Parents talked about The Joys of Motherhood. I hadn’t been a huge abuser of this term before, but now I think that I might use it just for fun. Kind of like a code name that everyone knows. But in considering all those awesome joys, I think that we all need to have an honest discussion.

We talk about poop.  And vomit.  And snot.  We share stories about diaper explosions and potty training struggles.  From every spit-up covered shirt to disgusting used tissue in our pocket, we’re a walking, talking gross-out tale.  If middle school boys ever bothered listening to us, they would find us hilarious.

The truth is, we’ve never had to deal with bodily fluids like this before.  When we were little, our mothers dealt with it all.  For as long as we can remember, we’ve always had control of these things.  So suddenly, we have a little human being to take care of and it’s our turn to deal with the uncontrollable outburst of our children.  And so, we share our stories with the world.

The problem with all this sharing is that no one actually wants to hear it.  No really… they’ve just been smiling and nodding to be polite.  When your child’s crap shoots up their back during their Christening, it might make a humorous story.  When it happens everytime he eats carrots, no one wants to know that.  It’s not interesting to anyone who isn’t intimately involved with your child’s digestive track.

But really, not talking about your child’s bodily functions is harder than it should be.  In the back of our heads, we all know that we shouldn’t mention it.  After a couple months with our infants, we get more used to our situation.  It becomes more routine, so we stop mentioning it.  And then, right when we thought that we were done with toilet talk forever, we start potty training.  Now, there’s a whole new plethora of information that we just feel compelled to share with the world.  Whether it’s your child’s first time on the potty or their brand new big-kid underwear.  We just can’t help ourselves.

I’m trying to tell you that I understand.  I fight this battle, too, and I don’t always win.  But, here are some tips that we can try to keep in mind next time our little ray of sunshine gets the flu and vomits all over our shoes.

  • If this story were about you, would you be sharing it right now? Unless you’re under the age of 19 and trying to grow out your patchy facial hair, the answer is normally no.  Very few adults share the details of their upset tummy, no matter how awful that Chinese buffet turned out.  Imagine if you’re child knew all this embarrassing information you were sharing with the world.
  • Does your audience have children under the age of 5? Most other moms are pretty understanding when it comes to potty talk.  We’re all in this together.  The real problem comes when you start discussing toilet training techniques with your 50 year old colleuge at work or your childless friend from college.
  • Can your audience remember your child’s middle name? This is my Litmus test for whether or not someone knows my child well enough to be interested in the random details of her life.  If it’s someone who can’t remember her middle name, they probably don’t remember that she accidently swallowed a Polly Pocket shoe a couple months ago, leading me to be wary of irregular days.  If you don’t know that, you might just think I’m weird enough to monitor her digestive track on a daily basis for no reason at all.  I’m not that odd, I have a reason to be worried that she could ingest random things!  If they do remember her middle name, they might cut me some slack here.
  • Was anything about this story truly abnormal? Goes back to crapping while in a Priest’s hands.  That’s a pretty funny picture to put in anyone’s head.  They’ll appreciate you for it.  But if it’s just that your child shit on the toilet, like most people do every day, most won’t be too impressed.  Now if your child masters the art of the public restroom squat before her legs can even reach the floor (I’m not sure how anyone could accomplish this, which is why it would be so awesome!), that’s something you can feel free to share.

And if you really need to share and you aren’t sure who will appreciate it, come talk to us about it here.  It’s a safe place.  We all understand.

(Photo: Thinkstock)