Posted by: monsonmadness | August 20, 2012

“Congratulations”: The correct response to a new pregnancy

PLEASE READ THIS POST IN A “I REFUSE TO BE OFFENDED” MENTALITY. It’s written for entertainment….mostly ;)

I’ve had a lot of pregnancy responses over the years (obviously, since I’ve had so many kids). This time around I got a bunch of awesome and sincere comments on facebook. Thank you dear friends. I love you so much.

This is not always the case however. We have had many comments which have been negative and hurtful, and because of this we don’t always share the news in an exciting, playful way any more. I think that’s sad. We certainly try to do that with our kids, but with everyone else, we’ve settled for the simple email update which protects us in the most cases from what may come out of people’s mouths face to face. A lot of the pregnancy “bloopers” are hilarious, especially when you know people didn’t think before speaking. I don’t mind the silly comments, it’s the criticism that is cruel.

Some people are concerned that I am adding to the burden of over population and global warming. No comment.

On the other hand, some remarks are cute and funny. For example, when we told our kids that we were expecting, Benjamin got all excited and asked, “Will it be a Samoan baby?”. He didn’t quite understand Michael’s furrowed brow and comment of “It better not be”!!! He just assumed that since we are here, we will have a little brown baby. The kids have actually focused in on that quite a lot. They are certain that the baby’s name will be Samuel, even if it’s a girl, and have started praying that “Samuel will be a pink baby” Oh, it’s great to be surrounded by innocence.

We always get some sports related comments…oh now you have enough to play doubles tennis…oh, now you have a basketball team, now you have a volleyball team, whoa! you can have your own baseball team etc. And yes, we will need to buy a new vehicle. We are very aware of how many members are in our family and how many people our car holds, but thanks for pointing that out! If you know of any big yellow school buses for sale, just send me the information.

Now, on the other spectrum…more times than I can count, I’ve had people respond to me telling them that I was pregnant with, “Oh, was that an accident?” Yep, from family, friends and even people I don’t know very well, that’s one of the most common. It’s happened on every pregnancy. That is not anyone’s business, but for the record, we haven’t had any accidents! We did have one surprise…and that was the shock of conceiving Hannah after thinking we were unable to conceive. I would never dream of asking anyone that question. I think it’s so rude. Worse than that I once overhead someone telling other people that my pregnancy WAS an accident like they knew anything about me at all, when it absolutely was not! Insane.

Samoans are not known for being very discrete people. They just tell it like it is. Bit of a shock at first, and then you learn to brush it off. A couple of people have in all seriousness asked me if they could have the baby. No joke.

I’ve also had a couple of people tell me how fat I was when I told them I was expecting. “Oh yes, your face is really fat and round, I could already tell that you were pregnant” Awesome. And then there was the friend who, when I told her I was expecting said, “Oh yes, I already knew. When I saw you at the leaving party, I could tell.” Oh. Well, I wasn’t actually pregnant then, but thanks anyway.

Then of course, there’s the silent treatment. Sending an email to a friend or family member who never EVER responds. I’m not talking about my blog or facebook update, and am not fishing for any more comments. I’m talking about a personal email to someone with the good news that never gets acknowledged. What?????? I wouldn’t list this if it had only happened once or twice, but this has happened several times to me now and this is the one I understand the least. Could a click of the reply button and a simple “congratulations” be too much to ask, even if you did have other opinions and thoughts about it? At least you can hide what you’re truly thinking behind your computer screen and just type the word “congratulations”  That is polite enough, right????

Along with the silent treatment comes the open mouth gape and the uncomfortable silent stare. After about 10 seconds of them not saying anything, I usually interject with something like, “yeah, well, we’re really excited about it”, and then change the subject.

Now, lest anyone think I am judging any of you for what you may have said, and not wanting to make any of you feel bad if you’re one of the culprits, please know that I am not exempt from putting my foot in it myself!

I may actually be the QUEEN of putting my foot in it. I thought about listing a bunch of my best blunders on here to get a laugh at my expense, but didn’t want to bring up any past embarrassments that you may have forgiven me for and forgotten about! Let’s just say there are a lot, (I’ve accidentally made comments about someone’s skin color that came across as racist, some about a persons disabled child who turned out not to be disabled, about people and their grandchildren although it was actually their child etc etc) Many are pretty recent too! I’ve had some awful moments with people when I’ve said something and then realized that it was absolutely the WRONG thing to say, although I have to say that I’ve never tried to say any of them in an intentionally hurtful way. It’s usually after the fact that I think, “Oh no, that didn’t come across the right way” or “I should not have said that”, and it’s normally too awkward to try and fix it later. So, if I’ve ever said something hurtful to you, I’m sorry. We’re all idiots and can do better. Please forgive me.

So…for those of you who are genuinely happy and excited for us as we bring new life to our family, I thank you for your words of happiness and encouragement. It really means a lot. For those of you who are not so thrilled or think we’re making a mistake, but who still smile and say “congratulations” I sincerely thank you for your respect. And for the rest of you who feel you have to say something judgmental or critical, just know that the correct thing to say to someone who is expecting a baby is “congratulations”. It really is as simple as that.

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Responses

  1. Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Thank you for each of the blog postings you have sent. Best wishes.

  2. You’re comments make me smile… I was excited to see that your family will be growing. Because we have a large family, I get comments like that too…my favorite comments, ” are they all yours, or yours and his?” or “no way you have seven kids, you look good…for having seven kids” what is that suppose to mean? I’d look bad if I had only one?? Congratulations, and I hope all goes well for your family!

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Really! No judgement, only excitement! Most of us are just in awe of you and what you are able to do. Of all the people I know, you are the most adventurous, energetic and enthusiastic. Whether it is mooning your roommates, traveling the world, family history, singles ward skits or, most importantly, raising your family, you put your everything into it. No one is better qualified to raise 7 (or however many) kids in American Samoa (and then, in Oregon) in the heat, surrounded by dogs and vermin and homeschooling and serving and helping others find their families, etc., etc. If we ever gape or stammer, its because we’re overwhelmed at thinking of the work and chaos before we get to the love and joy part. Congratulations, you deserve all the joy in the world.

    • ok, I really didn’t want to post this comment without editing out the mooning your roommates part, but a major part of this post was letting everyone know that I make similarly insensitive comments to people all the time, just in different areas and I am definitely far from perfect! (As all of you who have seen my bottom can attest!)

  4. Since I have only seen a bit of your bottom while you got a penicillin shot, I can’t attest, but I will say that you are hilarious!! Sorry that you get negative reactions to such a joyful announcement. I am super excited for you!!!

  5. Well said Helen. And Congratulations!! I am thrilled for you. I totally can relate to what you said. I had someone say, “Are you pregnant? because both my husband and I thought you had gained weight.” NO, I wasn’t pregnant…who says that???? And when we “chose” to have Eli 9 years after our youngest baby, we definately got the “was he an accident?” question. I suppose most people couldn’t understand us starting all over, but he was most definately not an accident. He was more planned, more prayed for than any of our other 4 children and we “worked” really hard to get him here. He was the BEST thing for our family. The timing of a late baby brought our older children together in a way that we could have never anticpated. The Lord has a plan and a timeline that we didn’t understand, but we have certianly been blessed by. So I say way to go Helen and Michael. I am really happy for you.


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