The Face I Make When People Ask a New Mom What Her New Year’s Resolution Is (Especially If It’s about the Baby Weight)
I have nothing against New Year’s resolutions. Self-improvement is a lifetime process, it’s good to have goals, it’s good to try to be the best people we can be.
But I propose not asking the new moms in your life what their New Year’s resolutions are. Or, if you’re a new mom yourself, feel free to feel a tug of anxiety when the question inevitably gets asked. Because the truth of the matter is, the time in your life that’s occupied with a new baby is all about survival. Self-improvement? I mean, sure, you can dream about it, but when your main goal is sleeping more than two hours in a stretch and the main reason you aren’t has very little to do with your inner sense of mindfulness or whatever, it’s a bit difficult to just….be more resolved to sleep more.
That baby crying at 2AM does not care if you resolved to sleep more. She wants to eat. Or he’s got a wet diaper. And you can’t resolve those needs away, or resolve away their dependence on you.
So when I got that question as a new mom, I sort of made a face like I just got a whiff of bad eggs. I’d try to hide it and kind of shrug it off, saying, oh, I hadn’t really thought of it. Or made something up that sounded good, like, “Oh, I resolved to be more thoughtful in my marriage,” which is code for, “I decided to make sure my needs are met more often rather than putting my needs dead last.” (Ahem ahem, this is good, but you should do it whenever, not as a New Year’s resolution! Your needs matter all year long! Not just in the three weeks we strive to meet our New Year’s resolutions.)
And don’t get me started about the focus on weight loss — the whole “gotta lose that baby weight” is a real difficult social mantra to deal with this time of year, because it seems like everyone and their pet ferret is focused on their goal weight, and if you’re busy breastfeeding and trying to keep your sanity and people are focused about your weight, it’s a bit much to handle. If someone makes a baby weight New Year’s resolution comment to you, or you see one being aimed in another new mom’s direction, I hereby absolve you for all the dagger-eyes you need to throw their way, or the pointed, “That’s rude,” you should say.
Maybe this year, all of society could resolve to treat moms with more kindness and empathy, and quit commenting on our weight, on our bodies, on the ways we feed our children, and focus instead on being the community we need. In fact, as I thought about what my own goal for the year was going to be, that word “community” kept ringing in my head, to the point where I decided that yes — this was going to be my guiding word of the year.
Not weight loss.
Not gaining more sleep.
Not even trying to be a different parent from the parent I am.
Because that’s what’s important. Not the weight, not the sleep (it will come back, it IS important, it’s just not something you can really solve that easily), not the endless books you feel pressured to read telling you how to be a better parent. It’s our community that keeps us going in January all the way through December, year in and year out, and so it’s community I’m going to focus on.