Trading War Stories

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

I’m starting to notice an extremely interesting trend that occurs when my wife talks to other women who have given birth.

When two moms get together and start talking — especially if one or both recently gave birth — the conversation seems innocent enough. What did he weigh? What was his length? How long were you in labor? All the pertinent questions you’d expect women to ask each other. But I began to notice something odd in their conversation after a while. At first I couldn’t pinpoint it, but then all of a sudden it dawned one me.

They were acting just like guys in a high school locker room, in that they both tell bold face lies to each other concerning their experiences and their children!

OK, let me give you an example. My wife started talking with another first-time mom about childbirth. They got through all the basics and then the other mom said “You know, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be.” I looked at MJ and waited for her to disagree, but instead, my wife just smiled and nodded in agreement. I couldn’t believe it. This is the same woman who was in so much pain before the epidural that she passed out and vomited. This was the same woman who was shrieking “I CAN’T DO THIS, MAKE IT STOP!” as she was delivering the head. But here she is acting all nonchalant and acting like a tough guy.

Example #2: I’ve found that no mother will admit they are having difficulty with a newborn. That kid could cry for five hours a night and not allow either parent a wink of sleep. But if someone else asks how things are going, the answer is “Well he can be a little fussy at times, but all in all he’s a good baby.” Bullshit. I’m no expert and I don’t have the scientific numbers to back it up, but I’m guessing roughly .04% of newborns sleep soundly — or even close to soundly — when they first come home from the hospital. All these parents who claim their little angel is giving them 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night are lying through their teeth.

Then they start talking about their approaches to child rearing and it’s so plainly obvious they are politely trying to one-up each other. The moms who breastfeed think the moms who don’t breastfeed are doing their kids a disservice. No mothers will admit they use a pacifier at any time other than naps or bedtime, yet I guarantee you that’s how all these moms get their kids to settle down. What bottles do you use? Are they BPA free? Tsk, tsk…you’re killing your baby.

And of course, my favorite phenomenon is when you’re out walking with your baby and you pass another couple with a stroller. And even though they won’t admit it, all the moms start thinking “OK, let’s get a look at this other baby and make sure it’s no where near as cute as my little angel.” And so you stop and each couple looks at the other’s baby and they always give nice compliments. Then they walk away and as soon as they’re out of range the moms will say something like “Hmmm…interesting how other babies still look coneheaded huh? Not like our little one.” Meanwhile the other couple is saying something bad about your kid and talking about how their child still reigns supreme as the cutest baby alive. It’s hysterical but also expected. Even though there definitely are ugly babies out there, no one thinks their baby is ugly nor should they. But I love the competitiveness that gets into these mothers, it can get really fun to watch.

The list goes on and on, but the long and short of it is these moms are basically pounding their chests like guys do when they talk about how much they can bench press or how many girls they’ve slept with.  But all you dads out there should know to keep this to yourself. Don’t ever call your wife or girlfriend on this because she will tell you you don’t know what you’re talking about and you should just shut up already. Just do what you’ve been doing since pregnancy: Smile, nod and agree.

It’s safer that way.

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