Solving the New Mama Dilemmas: Claiming Your Personal Space
No one tells you that when you have a baby that your body becomes public property. Your condition is open to comments from everyone, including your mother, grandmother, the dog-walker, the mailman, and the woman in Wal-mart with her 3-year-old who calls you fat. Complete strangers will walk up and pat your belly, ask you when your due date is, tell you how huge you are and question your parenting if you aren’t doing it their way.
So, it’s good to establish ground rules early. Pregnancy is no time to lose your spinal column! Be brave, after all, you are now standing up for two! Here are some basic “mommy rules” that you can feel free to stand up for:
- It’s my tummy. Ask or retract a nub! The polite way would be to say, “I’m very sensitive right now, I’d rather you didn’t touch my belly” but if strangers (or friends!) are being intrusive, it’s ok to just be honest and even a bit blunt about it. “I don’t want you to touch my stomach,” gets the point across just as well.
- Mom’s Rules are Law. Your mom is no longer THE mom, she is now the grandmother. If your mother or mother-in-law feels free to change your rules, it’s ok to say, “I’m sorry but this is something I feel strongly about so I would appreciate it if you would do as I ask.”
- Wisdom is always gained by listening. Feel free to listen to your mother or mother-in-law and reply kindly but firmly, “I appreciate you taking the time to tell me that” or “I appreciate that, we’ll keep it in mind if what we’re doing doesn’t work.” Listen to what they are trying to share or do, not simply that they are telling you what to do. Everyone wants to be heard so it may simply be that they want to be involved and useful.
- You aren’t going to do it how they did. It’s ok. They will live.
- Feel free to tell touchy-feely people a simple NO. “No, I’m sorry, we aren’t letting others hold her yet,” “I am not comfortable discussing my birth plans right now,” or “Thank you for your concern, I appreciate it” all work fine. Remember, you may feel compelled to answer honestly but sometimes that directly engages the person you are speaking to. Is it worth it to stress both you and them out? The opposite is also true. If you feel strongly and don’t mind advocating, then advocate strongly! Have the evidence and don’t be afraid to tell someone what you really think. Just remember that if this is a path you have already walked with someone and your once-favorite sister-in-law has now turned into a shrill harpy who is lecturing you, it’s ok to say “it’s not worth it to argue this again” or simply smile and nod. “Thank you but no, we don’t plan on doing that” is a nice way to close any conversation as well.
All in all, dealing with the intrusions is great practice for learning to tell your two-year-old or tween a good, solid “No.” You will learn to diplomatically and firmly be the parent, even if it is to some grown up in the mall asking you if you “know what causes that.”
So what can you do when your new one comes home to keep claiming your space?
- You can put up one of these adorable signs to let visitors know that you might be sleeping or what you need doing!
Have an article or some personal thoughts on claiming your personal space in pregnancy? We would love for you to share with us! Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.