Have you ever noticed that we tend to ask each other the same questions over and over again? When you're a kid, it's "How's school?" When you're an adult, it's "How's work?" When you're a new parent, it's "How's the baby sleeping?"
Yeeeeah. If everyone could go ahead and stop asking new moms and dads that, that'd be great. I for one am not sure how much longer I can pretend to be all nonchalant about the answer, which is: terribly. Being forced to repeat the depressing truth over and over again is not fun.
If you have recently found yourself interrogating a new parent about their baby’s sleep patterns, I’d like you to do something for me. Imagine the most unpleasant thing going on in your life, and then imagine being asked about it on a daily basis. “Hey, how’s that explosive diarrhea?” “Hey, you still got the runs?” “Still spending a lot of time on the bowl?” “Don’t worry, you’ll have a normal bowel movement soon.” Not so chatty now, are we?
When you ask me how about my baby is sleeping, I’m probably going to mumble something like, “Eh, not great. But we’ll get there.” But what I really want to say is, “Horribly. I think she may actually be trying to exhaust me to death. I feel like my eyeballs are about to fall out. I'm pretty sure the lack of sleep is killing my brain cells and making me stupid. I'm so tired I recently threw my phone in the trash and left for work with a dirty diaper in my hand. Please save me.”
We sleep deprived parents know our babies have needs, and we’re happy to tend to them no matter the hour. But the source of our constant exhaustion definitely isn't our favorite topic. It has a tendency to turn into a postmortem on all the tricks we've tried to get our babies to sleep better (for many of us, everything short of Ambien), and it's just such a downer.
Luckily, I've got plenty of other suggested conversation starters. How about asking us:
- Did you manage to leave the house today?
- Tell me all about that exciting day trip you took to Target.
- Show me the top 50 cutest pictures you took of the baby this week (okay, this morning).
- Have you lost weight? You look skinny.
- Not only do you look skinny, you look hungry. Would you like an entire sleeve of Oreos?
- How did your baby get so cute?
Sticking to these talking points could save a bit of sanity for new moms and dads, and every little bit helps.
And if none of those work, I've saved the best one for last:
- How about I watch the baby so you can go nap?