Quick Aside: Until I did a quick google search, I actually thought I made up the term “momsplaining” yesterday (and gave myself an I’m-so-clever internal pat on the back). It turns out, as the many Urban Dictionary entries and a podcast by Kristen Bell has revealed…I very much did not invent the term momsplaining. *awkwardly crumples up application to copyright the term and make fun t-shirts…*
But anyway…Momsplaining. What is it? According to Urban Dictionary, it is “[t]he use of words and tone that occurs by mothers. The audience is not limited to children, but can also be used with childless friends. Usually condescending in tone.” According to Paige Fitzgerald (me), it is a thing that many well-meaning family, friends, and women at the nail salon like to do to pregnant moms that has been driving me absolutely bananas this month.
Some examples of momsplaining that I’ve heard so far during my pregnancy:
“You don’t want to breastfeed longer than 3 weeks or you will ruin your breasts forever.”– said to me after I stated that I might want to breastfeed for at least 3 months.
“Whatever you do, DON’T be that person with a ‘birth plan.’ I didn’t go in with a plan and it was so stress-free. Also, please don’t be one of those people that does a water birth. Like, come on.”– completely random lady at the nail salon(!!) after overhearing that I’m expecting my first child. A big WTF to this one!
“You don’t plan on staying home with your baby the first year? I would never leave my baby in a daycare.” – said to me after I mentioned that I was already looking at local daycare centers for once I go back to work.
I’ve found that, depending on the comment, I handle certain types of momsplaining differently. For the most part, I politely nod my head and give a vague”ahh okay…interesting,” while making a mental note to disregard the advice as soon as the conversation is over. Like with the breastfeeding and the birth plan. And especially with the water birth! I kind of like the idea of a water birth. If that makes some people think I’m a little hippy-dippy, oh well!
When the comments are borderline insulting, I try and speak up in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m a kid defending themselves to a grownup. Because for me that is exactly how a dose of momsplaining can make me feel, and it’s a sucky feeling. For example, with the daycare comment. I politely (if a little coldly) said that if it was within our budget for me to stay home a whole year maybe I would, but it’s not, so I’ll be choosing the best care we can find and afford. Ugh.
I want to end this post by saying that not every mom who has given me advice has come off as a momsplainer. In fact, when I first shared our pregnancy news on my social media, I was overwhelmed with the number of caring women who reached out to me to offer support throughout this pregnancy/parenting journey. Many of them even mentioned the oncoming barrage of advice I would most likely get, and that they also received, and to go with my gut at the end of the day.
I also know that, for the most part, the women who have momsplained to me did so with kind intentions. They genuinely want to share their experiences of pregnancy and parenting to make the road a little easier for those just starting. I think it’s just the absolutism of some kinds of advice that give it the feeling of condescension.
Throughout my pregnancy and parenting journey, I hope I can continue to be kind to the women who are sharing their experiences with me, while still being true to the kind of mom (and person) I want to be. I also hope to keep the feelings of being momsplained to in my mind when I one day inevitably try and offer some advice to a new mom. Now if you’ll excuse me. I’m off to go stare at my breasts in a mirror for the next hour, so I can remember them as they were before my baby ruins them forever…kidding 😉