Monday, January 31, 2011

Assumptions can be conversation killers...

...as I found out yesterday at a friends baby shower, and sometimes it can set people straight and delightfully surprise them.

So as I mentioned and posted pics just a few days ago I headed off to "S" baby shower yesterday with my handmade outfit for her little precious bundle when she arrives. When I turned up it was interesting to watch the reaction and looks at me from "S" older family members and family friends when they saw me waddle in my heavily pregnant state. Many of "S" friends were already there and turning up as I arrived. "S" is very lucky to have a very big group of girlfriends and you can see by looking at all them and the way they carry themselves they all have their own sense and style.......the posh one, the boho one, the sporty one etc, etc. They were all giggling and chattering crew of girls in that 21 - 22 age group that "S" herself is in. I could overhear all her friends talking about nights out, dinner and drinks etc, the sorts of conversations we probably have all had back when we celebrated those years.

So given that I am 12 plus years older then "S" and her friends I took up a seat with her family members: aunts, grans, nans, great grans, mums of daughters attending who know "S", older cousins etc. It was funny listening to their conversations as they watched all of "S" friends. Obviously with it being a baby shower a lot of the conversation from this group was about babies and what they did in their day......I could hear comments of "the young ones just don't bother with that sort of stuff today, that's why there are so many problems". I heard other conversations and comments about "young ones" being relationships too early and so forth. Now don't get me wrong on my initial arrival and sitting down and after catching many a sideways glance it got the better of many older guests there to ask when I was due to have my baby. However when their conversations of the "mothers of today" continued they kept giving me these looks like how disappointing its all changed, like I was possibly the epitome of what they were saying.

So this is where the assumptions started and off hand comments were made to me. We had the "you don't need to worry about that comment" in regards to getting married and that I had plenty of time and didn't need to rush into it. Obviously there was shock when I said well I would probably be 12 or more years older then all the girls over there and I have been with my husband for 16 years and married 13 of those years this year. Oh you don't look like you're in the your 30's (they thought I was on of "S" school friends) was the response........compliment taken. From there I was then accepted more openly into that conversation about relationships and marriage!

Second assumption came about next when the baby food tasting game started. "You will be good at guessing these foods we never had any of that in our days". "Ummmm, no I'm unlikely to have anymore of a clue then the rest of you, I don't feed my child food from jars, I cook from scratch" was my response. This threw some of them and they really didn't know what to say so on with the game we got. Which I decided to exclude myself from because the sight and smell of some the tins and jars was just rank in my preggy opinion.

Third assumption was when the conversation of breastfeeding started up and the older women were talking about how short a period of time mothers these days feed for or not at all. I got some of those blank, raised eyebrow looks that suggest the assumption was that "the best choice wasn't being made" and I was likely one of them who hasn't given it a go. Imagine the surprise then when I mentioned that I was still breast feeding my 22 month old son (and that I had re lactated for him). "Oh but what are you going to do when the baby comes?" "Keep going and feed both" was my response. Of course there were all sorts of comments of that's amazing and it being wonderful, right down to "why would you do that you're mad and you don't know what you're getting yourself in for" and everything else in between. As well as the odd scoff that suggested that I might fall flat on my face in that pursuit and that I lacked appropriate knowledge.

Fourth assumption was over the conversation of nappies that started up. Those comments of "the young ones don't do cloth anymore they can't be bother, they use the plastic ones instead" could be heard. As well as "you can't find cloth anywhere, not anymore it's just a thing of the past" type comments. Of course along with that came the look of disappointment about those times as they blankly looked at me and the suggestion that I might be one of those mums that takes "the easy way out". To which they soon found out that in fact my son is in cloth nappies full time (full time really? yes full time, all the time day and night) and that within next to no time I would be having 2 cloth full time.

So you would of thought by now that the assumptions and suggestion about me or towards me would have stopped at this point by now. But no there was more conversation about mothers these days not sewing, knitting etc and not wanting that sort of thing anymore for their baby/children. So when it came to "S" opening her gifts and she finally unwrapped mine at the end to reveal the little outfit I had made. "S" looked at me and said "did you make this" to which I quietly nodding and said yeah". "S" declared thank you so much Trudie I love it, it's so cute. Of course I could hear a few whispers in the background by the older members of the family.......I don't think they saw that coming out of me either.

With me outlining all of these conversations it by no means, meant that I didn't enjoy my time yesterday, rather the contrary I had a rather enjoyable afternoon relaxing. In my response to all these conversations and assumptions I wasn't rude or impolite or offended and conversation continued on most occasions with these women.......I guess they just didn't stop making assumption that's the only thing. I just replied to things as they are for me and my family, because I don't like people to pigeon hole me and assume I am something I am not.

I guess at the end the day I left some people shocked and others in some sort of admiration of me and my dedication to things. Oh and for others I think some of them just think I am plain mad and won't hold it altogether. I guess that's where the basis of this entry and post is about. My dear "S" is due to have her first child in April she is going to be a young mummy and she has looked to me for guidance and reassurance that she can breast feed and cloth nappy her child. I just hope through that she has the strength and resilience being a young first time mummy to get past the assumptions that will undoubtedly be made about her. I know when you're younger,but also when you're a first time mum (young or old) that it's easy to get bogged down in peoples assumptions and criticisms of you whilst you're trying the find your way with this new life in your arms. I just hope for "S" sake that she will come to me with her concerns, so I can help guide her along the way in the those early days!

Aside from all that overall I think many mothers young and old really need to lighten up on their assumptions of others and give each other more of a chance and more support! At the end of the day you would be hard pressed to find a mum who isn't trying her best for her family and their unique and specific situation.

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