Friday, July 15, 2011

Dealing with negativity

Yesterday I wrote about how I'm a realist. There is another side to this though in that being realistic about challenge isn't necessarily negative. And now excuse me while I go on a mini-rant.

Generally people are pretty cool when they find out we're having a kid. They congratulate us, ask how things are, and are mostly ... you know ... actual normal people about it. There is another group at the other end of the continuum, the folks who think they're helping by sharing every negative piece of knowledge they have about the pregnancy and what comes next after the baby is born.

It's the crowd whose reaction is nothing but the following:
  • "Enjoy sleeping while you can"
  • "My pregnancy was SO horrible" (best said if wife isn't far along for maximum stress)
  • "You have so much to learn"
  • "Why are you doing THAT?"
Etc. It's not like I'm criticizing advice because we've had a lot of great tips along the way that have helped us out. It actually does help me to hear parents stories about the good and the bad because I get the balance. I've particularly loved hearing stories from Silagh and her husband about what it was like in the early days because they speak matter-of-factly about what they went through, good and bad.

No, in the situation of the above quotes, I'm talking more in terms of tone, with folks who have nothing but negatives to say. God forbid we cast off the worry and concern that comes naturally to us and just sort of enjoy things as they are.

If we were doing this when I was 25, I could see us being naive and green, expecting everything to be a unicorn sundae. But I'm 36. I've been through some crap in my life. I get that adversity is part of the deal when it comes to living.

That's me being nice. When people tell me to stock up on sleep, I feel like responding, "Really? Babies cry a lot and don't do it on your schedule? I had no effing idea!"

Some folks are just negative that way. I don't believe in living in a fantasy world, but I do think that you shape your reality in part by how you approach the world and I try to stay cautiously optimistic. And again, I've lived a bit in life. We knew the first month after the birth was going to be rough.

But not everyone is doing it just because they're negative. Some genuinely believe they're helping, as if we need to be warned of every little negative up front so we go in eyes open. Thing is, if we need to be cut down to size, stories aren't going to do it. I've seen couples get married with completely unrealistic expectations and no amount of warning will deter them. It. Will. Be. Awesome. No matter what. Until it isn't. But the thing is, people will do what they will do.

In our case, we've done our best to educate ourselves. We've probably missed a lot of stuff. But it's not for lack of trying, and we've learned about some things that we need to prepare for in terms of challenges and negatives that come with raising an infant. So after all of that, it's nice to hear parents actually say things they love about raising their kids.

So I'm not telling the nattering nabobs of negativism to stuff it. It's just that you're not helping. And truthfully, I stopped listening to you a while ago. It might be a shutoff mechanism, but I can take only so much negative thinking before the pregnancy goes from being a reason for joy to one that makes me a flaming ball of stress.

But I have learned one lesson from you, and that's how to behave when we meet couples in our shoes. Congratulate them. Experience the joy with them. Offer whatever help they need. We're doing this because it's meaningful, right?


Post #30 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter


  1. Can't wait to compare notes about stupid questions people ask after the baby is born. BTW, your wife is looking particularly radiant.

  2. how particularly creepy that the 'captcha" phrase on my last comment was "mothr"

  3. Ha, we'll have to do that. Preferably over a giant bottle of wine.

    Amy really is glowing more than usual. Kid is active a lot these days too!