We’ve all been there. You’re walking through the supermarket and you’re hit: BAM! 11 o’clock, a well-meaning stranger hurls a completely annoying and/or inappropriate comment your way. Whether you haven’t slept since 2009 or your cart is filled to the brim with [insert kids’ favorite sugary and shunned-by-Gwyneth snack here], we’ve all wished we had a witty response at the ready. As moms, we go nowhere unarmed. We pack our purses better than Mary Poppins ever packed that wretched carpet bag for a five minute trip to the neighbors and we know exactly what are kids will need when we pick them up for practice. So why is it that we are unprepared to respond to those pesky, well-meaning strangers? Why is it that these awkward and inappropriate comments every mom hears catch us off guard?
No longer, ladies. No longer. I’ve prepared a list of the most annoying comments known to moms with responses that are sure to discourage any follow up chatter. Yes, I’ll have you hanging in awkward city but it will be a land of your own making, not one that weird lady in line sentenced you to.
Wow, you have your hands full!
This one is a CLASSIC. Whether you have one perfectly behaved kid or seventeen screaming children, this phrase follows moms around everywhere! When an eye roll won’t do, here are a few ideas to hurl around.
“I am so very glad you noticed! I actually have an appointment in a few, can you help me out?” Make a big to-do about rummaging for your keys and kissing your kids goodbye. When stranger gets awkward or thinks you’re kidding, simply stomp off in a huff muttering, “some help YOU are. I actually thought I’d get my Brazilian done in peace this time!”
You stay at home with your kids? I could never do what you do (or other well-meaning but potentially passive-aggressive comment that makes you feel small).
Obviously, this comment is all about context. If someone is truly marveling at what a great mom you are and is only accidentally entering into the patronizing territory, by all means let it go. I stick my foot in my mouth all the time (this post is a perfect example of how I do that and encourage others to as well) and often people deserve the benefit of the doubt. But sometimes, a mama needs to stick up for herself.
“Oh, it is really hard but so rewarding. Like, last year? I finished all the sewing and mending early and I made sure little Timmy’s sandwiches were cut into rockets for his lunch the next day and they let me out for the night! I got to wander around Target all by myself! Sometimes, I really am living the dream.”
You’re a full-time working mom? I could never do what you do (or other well-meaning but potentially passive-aggressive comment that makes you feel small).
Same notes as above. There are many ways to mother. We know this but, oh my word, we forget it. And that awkward person you just met at that cocktail party forgot it, too. This one is for him/her.
“Yes I am! I just realized that I really do love my career more than I love my kids. Sure, my kids can love me back and all but can they buy me amazing dresses like this one?” Then do a twirl for good measure. “I don’t think so!”
Oh, you’re so thin for having had xx kids!
Are you sure it’s not twins?
You’ll bounce back, don’t worry!
How much weight did you gain while pregnant?
Other super awkward comments about your body.
There is something about being a woman — and particularly a mother — that makes our bodies the topics of conversation among family, friends and even strangers. Add a pregnancy into the mix and the game hits a new level. It’s brutal for anyone trying to walk around with any semblance of self-acceptance let alone self-confidence. I have a few options for you if you run into these situations.
Begin singing a body positive song at the top of your lungs. Bonus points for having it on your phone and blasting it. Suggestions include: “All About That Bass” by Megan Trainor, “My Body” by Peter Alsop (total unexpected 80s kid throwback) or “Video” by India Arie. The louder you sing, the more awkward the commenter will feel. Remember, they’re the ones that should feel awkward, not you.
“You know, thank you so much for saying that! I have really been feeling a lack of public input on my bod these days and I have to say, it feels like a hole deep inside. Thanks so much for throwing your two cents in. I will seriously sleep so much better tonight.”
“Now that you’ve shared something about my body, let me take a moment to tell you something about yours. Hold on, I have some notes” Pull out any random paper you can find or, if you’re in a pinch, your phone. Start reading quietly to yourself and make all sorts of noises that convey a real sense of introspection about what you’re reading. Hopefully, your conversation partner will bugger off and realize that it’s super awkward to comment about other people’s bodies.
You are so lucky you have such an amazing husband!
This kind of thing always cracks me up. Oftentimes, a comment like this follows the most banal of actions from my husband. Like, he just parented for a hot second, let’s give this guy a medal! Better yet, let’s name a country after his parental prowess! (Let it be known that my husband is indeed, amazing. In case you’re reading this babe, you’re extremely good in bed and no man will ever measure up to you). What to say, what to say…
“You’re right, he is! Daddy gave him 3 of our best dairy cows to marry me and boy oh boy am I lucky! He only tried to back out twice but Daddy reminded him about the shotgun and the shovel he kept upstairs. I really am so lucky, thanks for noticing!”
In conclusion, don’t keep your mouth shut any more.
While you might choose a more polite way to address these awkward comments, I absolutely encourage you to respond to them. Motherhood is hard. Why shouldn’t we entertain ourselves by making strangers around us feel completely awkward?
What is the weirdest thing a well-meaning stranger has said to you?