You’ll seeeeee: parental fear-mongering predictions that didn’t come true

Posted by
By: IntangibleArtsCC BY 2.0

A few years ago, I wrote a post called “You’ll seeeee” for Offbeat Bride, but half of it was about the fear-mongering around pregnancy and parenthood:

It seems as though, during wedding planning (and, as I’m learning, childbearing — and as I suspect most big life transitions) we tell each other a lot of scary stories.

I mean, of course people want to share their experiences with each other. But all too often this storytelling slips into fear mongering. It’s sort of a pre-emptive commiseration — an anticipatory sing-song of Oh, you’ll seeeee…. It’s our way of telling each other, “I had this experience, and I’m assuming my experience is universal and you’ll have the exact same one. And mine was like this, so yours will be too — and then we can roll our eyes and bond over how awful it was together.” We all love a common enemy, and all too often in pursuit of this shared experience, we project our challenges onto others.

They whisper about cheating and boredom and bed death. And certainly these things can happen if you fall asleep on your life and just start going through the motions. But if you pay attention and go into with a lot of intent and questioning your own assumptions about why you’re supposed to do anything … it just doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m learning this about another phase with the fear mongering around pregnancy, childbearing, and babies. I’ve never heard more sing-songy You’ll seeeeee!s than I have when talking to people about becoming a mother.

The truths of this post snapped into even clearer focus for me when I recently found an old personal blog post I’d written when I was pregnant in 2009. I never finished it, but I think you can see where I was going with the idea…

As the waves of “Oh you’re pregnant!” baby and lifestyle advice start to wash over me, I find myself increasingly fascinated by the tales of woe that many parents have. I’ve dealt with lots of fear-mongering around sleep deprivation, but I’m continuing to get ongoing feedback of terror from lots of people … and I’m trying to figure out what are true generalities vs. what may be true for us.

Example 1: You lose all independence
This is of course in large part true … BUT. There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what people with family in town say vs. what people without family in town say about this one … so much so that I feel like I have to calibrate many “truths” with proximity to extended family.

Example 2: You need a house in the suburbs
There are also a lot of assumptions and presumptions about family and suburbs. People keep asking me about how we’ll manage without a yard, to which I say, “We used to have a yard, but it didn’t have a wading pool, 45 acres of lawn, or a conservatory — all of which our neighborhood park does.”

Example 3: You’ll stop loving your dog
Because evidently, there’s only room in my heart for one small creature.

Example 4: Your house will fill with plastic toys/baby crap
Because somehow, small bunnies who poop plastic toys will sneak into my house and start pooping Legos and Mr. Potato Heads everywhere without my consent.

By: DaveBleasdaleCC BY 2.0

Three years later, looking back at the fear mongering people did with me, I see that much of it really ISN’T true — primarily because I’ve made conscious decisions to avoid them.

  • As I knew it would, of course my independence has shifted to include a strong component of family identity, but you know what? Being a mother still isn’t my most interesting feature. I’ve prioritized living near my extended family so that there’s support there. I chose a partner who was interested in egalitarian parenting. All these choices were made before I had a child, because maintaining my independence was important to me. As a result, I’ve maintained it.
  • Needing a house in the suburbs? Nope.
  • Stop loving my dog? Absolutely 100% not. In fact, the dog’s life has improved, since now someone is almost always at home to hang out with her, there’s a never-ending rainstorm of food scraps falling from the toddler’s plate, and she’s got an additional set of human hands to beg attention from.
  • House filled with plastic crap? Nope. When something comes in, something goes out — our livingroom gets filled with toys, but at the end of the day they all go back in their baskets in the cabinet and (gasp!) it feels like grown-ups live here.

Again, I’m not saying that any of these (or any other number of stereotypical parent things) WON’T happen after you have a child. I’m just saying that it’s up to you to prioritize what changes, and how it changes. Absolutely some things are out of your control, but if something’s important to you before you become a parent, it is completely in your power to retain that priority after you become a parent. Will it be as easy? Will it come naturally? Probably not — but there are no inevitabilities with parenthood.

More importantly, the fear-mongering just doesn’t help. In many of the instances, I didn’t see the inevitable you’ll seeeeees come true. Even in the instances where the you’ll seeeeees are just truth (newborn sleep challenges, for instance) fear mongering simply isn’t useful.

As I said on Offbeat Bride:

It seem that in our effort to find shared experiences, we turn to each other and tell awful stories about how hard it all is. And you know what? Sometimes it IS hard. Sometimes the wedding plans fall apart and relationships fall apart and it feels like our life is falling apart.

But rather than tell the horror stories, why not share the lessons? Learn as much as you can and share the positivity of what you learned, rather than the shared grumping about didn’t work.

The next time you want to warn a pregnant woman that “she’ll seeeeee,” try reframing the conversation as a way to offer helpful tips instead of waggling eyebrows and fear-mongering.

For instance, instead of “Get your sleep while you can — you’ll never sleep again after your baby is born! HA HA HA!” Try something like, “If you guys have issues with sleeping after the baby gets here, totally just let me know. I have some books that were super helpful for us, and I’d be totally happy to swing by and hang out with your kiddo while you take a nap.”

Comments on You’ll seeeeee: parental fear-mongering predictions that didn’t come true

  1. My mother is queen of the “you’ll seeeee.”

    FEAR-MONGERING A: “You’ll see how hard it is to be patient and nice when you have kids of your own.” Really she used that to justify any behavior at all, including a lot of name-calling, yelling, and screaming.

    SUPPORTIVE REFRAMING B: “Having kids can be difficult sometimes, but it’s also wonderful a lot of the time. I can’t wait for you to experience that.”

  2. One sentiment that really bothered me when I was expecting my second son was “If you have two boys, they will be brutal to each other” (many versions of this.) I knew there would be fights, but I resented that characterization between the baby I hadn’t even had yet and the son I already loved. There are lots of sibling rivalry and conflict strategies that could have been suggested instead.

    • Completely agree! I now have two boys exactly two years apart (2 and 5 months and just 5 months) and the “you’ll seeeeeeee”s about when they will start punching, sword fighting, wrestling with, throwing things at each other are so frequent that it’s actually just boring to hear. I’d love useful advice on future sibling rivalry, or just some reassurance that even brothers who fight can end up good friends. Instead of useful tips, though, it’s always the not-so-humble brag about how hard it was for them to raise two boys.

      • don’t mix up all the fighting with sibling rivalry. These are two different things. All the punching, sword fighting and wrestling is just what they do. It’s play. some daughters do these things too until someone insists it isn’t ladylike and they must stop. When the truth is, either none of the children may do it, or all of them may, but only under the circumstances you allow: only outdoors, only with toy lightsabers, never with carrot sticks at the dinner table. Whatever rules make you less crazy and can be enforced with timeouts or other consequences.

        Sibling rivalry isn’t physical and obvious nor restricted to same sex kids, and isn’t stopped by time outs. That’s a matter of personality and age difference and parental/extended family/social expectations. It’s an entirely different issue, and you can be the fairest most considerate parent ever, and still have a kid who feels they always got the short straw and requires years of therapy. Do your best.

    • my sister and i fought like CRAZY. she held an iron to my arm. i hit her head on the toilet seat– i mean we were CRUEL AND BRUTAL to each other.

      my husband is the oldest of three boys. they never fought, never wrestled, never hit each other. his younger two brothers did a bit but nothing nearly as dramatic as my sister and i when we were in the midst of our crazy hormonal years.

      • THIS! My sister and I (who are totally BFFs now) fought like an unstaged version of WWF. The boys next door–hardly raised their voices to each other.

    • I find the assumption that boys will beat each other black and blue quite weird too. I only had a sister and WE beat each other black and blue. More so than any set of brothers I’ve ever met. Seriously – I have scars.

      • I have two boys…NEVER was there a fight or argument. They are eight years apart and are the very best of friends. Now 20 yrs and 12 yrs are still very close and love hanging out together. I instilled a very strong sense of “this is THE person in this world that will always have you back” kind of feeling with them very early. They are loving and respectful young men. It can be done!

    • My husband and his brother have four years between them. While they experienced a bit of rivalry in their early years, they were generally really close and are like best friends now. Because of their shared experiences brothers have the potential to bond in ways friends can’t!

  3. Every single one of those things has happened to me in some way or another.

    No more ability to go do whatever I want at any given time, but to be honest hanging out with my daughter beats pretty much anything else out there.

    I do need a house, just not in the suburbs. I also don’t think the house is solely because of my daughter. It has a lot more to do with our two dogs needing a yard and us loving to bbq.

    I didn’t stop loving my dogs, they just started to gross me out during the pregnancy just like everything else. They are no longer allowed on the furniture or in the bedrooms.

    My house is completely filled with so much plastic crap, but we figure that will stop once she gains some mobility.

    Thing is no one ever said the ‘you’ll see…’ to me. In the Mexican community we just get a lot of ‘you don’t have kids yet?’ ‘why don’t you have kids yet?’

    • I totally had to laugh out loud at your comment on the Mexican community. My dad isn’t even 50 and is the last of his friends to become a grandpa. When my dad was my age, he had teens. Yikes! The general chorus was more full of “Finally!” than “You’ll see”.

  4. OMG, thank you for writing this! My partner and I will be trying next year for kiddos and I’ve been so terrified about losing my identity (having just finally felt comfortable being a “wife”) and reading this post was a breath of fresh air.

  5. When I was pregnant, I got quite a few “you’ll seeeees” from (I assume) well meaning friends. the hardest of which for me was (A) the absolute assurance that my heart would “melt” the instant I saw my new bub. “There’s nothing like being a mommy to remind you what’s REALLY important!” they would sing like a bunch of Stepford wives. The assumption here is that I would lose my identity as a woman and person with a career and a marriage that I cared about and turn in to a mommy machine. No lie, this scared the hell out of me.

    Ten plus months later, I’m finding my way with all of this, but I would have really appreciated if someone had said (B) “you know, I feel a beautiful, deep connection with my kid, but I’m still enjoying my job, my friends and time with my partner and you can too if you put some thought and effort in to it.”

  6. The sleep thing was the most prevalent. Even childfree friends were like, “you’ll never sleep! EVER AGAIN!”…and that’s probably the thing that was the least true. We figured out a system that allowed each of us at least 5-6 hours a night. But we are blessed with a baby that slept through the night at an early age as well. But yeah…not true for us.

    I have friends that reassure me that I’ll start to feel like the “old me” in a few years, but the funny thing about that is that I have no interest in being the “old me”. Not that there was anything necessarily wrong with it, but I love my additional identity as a mom and have no desire to be the person I used to be. Sure, I want to get back to dance classes and read before bed every night but for the most part, I enjoy this added layer of richness to my life. It’s not easy–and O just learned to crawl so things are about to get extra interesting–but I love that this is who I am.

    These days I try my best to be the antithesis to the “you’ll seeee” barrage for the soon-to-be and new parents I meet or already know. I feel like that’s the best thing I can do…offer help but withhold the judgment and assumptions. We all have our road to travel and all that 🙂

  7. Thank you for this post! My brother in law and his wife had a child two years before we had ours, and as a result of choices like putting diet pepsi in a sippycup or just screaming the child’s name repeatedly, their son is um, unruly? They were the quickest to “You’ll see ” us, and the most frequent offenders. I really never came up with a good response to this (other than a stiff FUCK YOU said solely in my head), and since they still do it, I’ll be keeping a close eye on these comments. It so good to see other people get “You’ll see -ed” too.

    • Sorry, I had to laugh a little – many of the decisions we have made about how we want to parent our Peanut have been made after watching friends and family make decisions that look to be making issues for their kid and their future.

    • The best reply I found was, “Yup, I *will* see.” And then, per comments above, keeping an eye on priorities. I never put soda in the sippy cups, but I did cave to letting my kids have hot dogs.

    I’ve excitedly bubbled over to my mother about wanting to cloth-diaper and she waggled a “you’ll see” to all my research and sourced fabrics…
    I said, “well maybe, but it was done almost exclusively in 1955 so it can be done, and I’m going to try it!”
    Acknowledge but redirect to let them know you’re going through with your plans anyhow.

      • “If you’re up for doing all the laundry, it’s totally worth it – you’ll save so much money!”

        “Here are some great bio-degradable chlorine-free disposables. They’re nice to have around in a pinch for babysitters or car trips or something.”

        And, the ultimate all-encompassing one, which I learned based on balancing my own preconceived (LOLZ) notions about parenting with the realities of having a kid: “It’s so awesome that you’ve done all this research, and I really hope that it works out for you. Just remember to give yourself a break and don’t be afraid to adjust if it turns out not to be right for you.”

        • Holy fuck, THIS x 500 BAZILLION:

          “It’s so awesome that you’ve done all this research, and I really hope that it works out for you. Just remember to give yourself a break and don’t be afraid to adjust if it turns out not to be right for you.”

          • Took me a few months of feeling like crap for not being as crunchy as I’d planned to before I figured that one out… better late than never!

          • Yes! Yes! Yes! This applies to so many things! And it respects the process of planning and research and intentions, but is so supportive for when plans change.

            I want to burn this response into my brain so I can respond better when my knee-jerk response is to be a bossypants.

          • I just took a week off from cloth diapering for laundry based sanity reasons. Just because you want to cloth diaper doesn’t mean it has to be 100% Even 75 or 60% is still AMAZINGLY helpful to the checkbook and planet. Also, yeah, most people who “You’ll see…” about cloth diapering still think you use safety pins. Ask them. Chances are, that’s the case. They assume there is way more to it than stuffing a diaper, and velcro or snapping it on, or shaking off poop and washing like all the other dirty baby clothes. However, the switch to disposables for a week was heavenly to not have to worry about laundry for a few extra days.

          • Yes!

            And to me the trouble is that the “You’ll Sees” are such a challenge to you that if you do end up struggling with the thing they warned you about, they want to gloat and tease you about it and knock you down a peg for being so presumptuous as to think you could do better than them.

            When really, if you frame it like this where you tell them not to be afraid to back out if it isn’t working, then you take out the fear of being shamed for having to go back on your plan.

        • This sentiment: “It’s so awesome that you’ve done all this research, and I really hope that it works out for you. Just remember to give yourself a break and don’t be afraid to adjust if it turns out not to be right for you.”

          After the hard lessons I learned from things I researched not going as planned (cloth-diapering, breast-feeding, sleep routines, etc.) this sentiment is now the single most important thing I try to tell every soon-to-be-parent. One of my good friends told me it was the best piece of parenting advice she got.

        • THIS. I am incredibly blessed to have a mom who was both crunchy in her own right and amazingly encouraging about everything I’m planning to try. Her mantra is “every baby is different” so she’s always urging me to be flexible and not be too attached to any one philosophy on whatever (feeding, sleeping, discipline, etc). It sure does help me brush off the “you’ll see”-ers, because I have that wonderful mom-voice in my head telling me “every baby is different”.

        • that last paragraph, BINGO. I think I will adopt it for anytime I must make some sort of response to something I think is crazy and I would never do.

      • I was lucky enough to have a friend give me the following kinds of advice: “I found I needed about 20 diapers to get started, so expect to spend a few hundred bucks upfront. I liked the all-in-one style with the snaps and tab closures in the front because it was easiest to get the right fit. And I ended up washing diapers 3 days a week, so you have to be able to spend 2-3 hours/day on laundry that often.” It’s not that cloth diapering is hard, and it has definitely saved us money in the long run, but the learning curve and initial expense can be a surprise.

          • Maybe she has to use a laundromat, or just a communal machine where she can’t start the diapers in the morning and move them to the dryer when she gets home. I love our cloth diapers and even travel with them, but I might feel differently if we had to leave the house or climb stairs to wash them.

          • maybe she is one of those people who pre-treats and soaks and washes twice and rinses twice and hangs out laundry to dry and then actually folds and puts everything away. that takes time, I hear. (really, I know people who do not think you can rinse the diaper at time of changing, and wash once on hot, and won’t use a wasteful dryer.)

      • I am incredibly impressed by people who wash their child’s cloth diapers themselves, but if you can spare the money, a diaper laundering service can be very helpful.

        • My parents (ok, my mom) did this with all of us except the youngest (and even he started with cloth I think), but I think the service let town? I’m hoping that the market is coming back with more people getting into reducing their footprint and all that, because I’d like the option when I start having children, but can barely manage to do my own laundry on a regular basis.

    • My mother did the SAME THING. She cloth diapered my brother and when I talked about cloth diapering our son, I got a lot of “You have NO IDEA how much work it is… I wouldn’t do it if I were you…”

      Cloth diapering has worked beautifully for us, although my parents have opted to purchased disposables to use when my son is at their house. Whatever… they’re free childcare for us frequently, so what they want to put on his butt is their call.

    • Many of the “you’ll seeee”ers about cloth diapering were the woman of “the age before disposable”. They couldn’t wrap their heads around why someone would CHOOSE cloth diapers. Likewise, why someone would CHOOSE unmedicated birth, or making your own babyfood.

      I wish i would have heard “wow! I know all about [instert topic]. I did that 40 years ago with your mom. I have tons of tips and tricks i could share with you”

      now isn’t that refreshing…

      • I think a lot of fear mongering from older generations on things like cloth diapering is just because they haven’t done it our way. Diapering when my mom did it was cotton flats, pins and plastic pants. The smell of the diaper pail is still with me. While some people still choose to do it the way our parents did, most have some variation that’s MUCH easier. Snappis, wraps, more efficient washers, etc have all made it so much easier than our parents had it. Same foes for things like unmedicated births, making your own baby food, and even baby wearing. My response to older generations when I admit to cloth diapering and they look at me in pity is to tell them how much things have changed. My advice to any new mom getting a “you’ll see” is to tell her she’s strong enough and wise enough to know what she’s capable of and that it’s okay to experiment. You really don’t have to do it like everyone else whether you’re being pressured by hippies or main streamers.

  9. Oh man, I am guilty of doing this — to my husband! We don’t have any kids yet, but I read a lot of parenting blogs (none as awesome as Offbeat Mama!). My husband is ETERNALLY optimistic about EVERYTHING, whereas I am more realistic (he would say pessimistic). He is going to stay home when we have kids, and he talks about it like it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world, all of his parenting strategies will work perfectly, and it will rain puppies and rainbows the entire time. I am trying to gently prepare him for the idea that maybe it will be more difficult than he thinks, but I don’t know how to do this without just being a Debbie Downer. So I appreciate all the suggestions!

    • As the more optimistic partner, I’m guessing that your husband will appreciate the re-framing — and he might even be less of a Pollyanna if you’re less negative. I sometimes feel like I’m relentlessly positive just to counteract the gloom & doom coming my way, not because I’m ignorant to the realities but because SOMEONE needs to have hope!

    • Yeah, my husband had grand plans for the awesome garden he was going to plant once he had soooo much spare time while taking care of an infant. 5 months later, not so much…

      My strategy is to be as encouraging and realistic as possible early on (“A big garden would be great! What do you want to plant that won’t take up too much of your time? Let’s look at carriers that will allow you to hold the baby while gardening”), helpful without pressure when possible (“I’m stopping by the store, should I pick up some seeds?” or “This weekend would be a great time for me to help with the garden”), and to never, ever say “I told you so” if things don’t work out. 🙂

      Basically I try to switch my own internal monologue from “That won’t work” to “How do we make that work?” and I think we BOTH end up happier that way…

    • “I love that you’re so excited about this, but it’s okay if you spend all day long and the only thing that got done was holding the baby.”

      I said this once to my husband who was complaining that he didn’t have time for anything else when the baby was only a couple of month old. I was reassuring him that he didn’t have to get anything else done.

    • Honestly, I don’t think he’ll appreciate it. I’m a real optimist myself, and I used to have a lot of people trying to knock me down. Usually under the guise of wanting me ‘not to be disappointed’, which is bs. I would far rather be optimistic about something and to adjust my expectations downwards, than the opposite. I eventually removed these people from my life, because I’d rather be surrounded by people who support my positive nature and allow me to experience disappointment on my own terms, not theirs.

    • My husband & I are the same way! (He is sunnyside-up & I am practical Polly) There have been times where I have felt the need to “learn him a lesson” about the “hard days of the mommy”. But I have come to find that in a lot of ways, him parenting our children IS much easier, smoother, less stressful, and without hiccups. BECAUSE he is a “nothing is gonna happen that I can’t live with” person, very rarely does he have a bad day with the kids. In the beginning I hoped he’d have it hard so I could say “NOW do you see?!” but then I realized that meant I was praying for both he and my kiddos to have a crappy time while I was gone- and what mommy wants to come home to that?! Instead, I’ve taken a lesson from him; my kids do better when the parent in charge is easy going; if something goes wrong, so what, there’s always tomorrow; and my kids won’t be kids forever, so let’s enjoy this gig! It’s amazing at the change that happens when we can learn from someone else’s positive experiences instead of just trying to relive our negative ones through them. 🙂

  10. I feel like my family is full of so many “you’ll sees” that I have been avoiding them lately and dread time with them while pregnant. Though the worst, the absolute worst, is that because I look like my mother there is this idea that whatever has happened to her body will be repeated in mine. The yo-yo dieting, quick child-birth, trouble breastfeeding, up and down weight etc. It’s both exhausting and frustrating because I am a separate person and it really makes it harder for them to just let me be an individual or to even feel like I have some control over my own body.

  11. I have been milling this over in my mind, and I think perhaps the “You’ll see” is related to resignation; perhaps the reason constructive commentary isn’t offered is because the person has had a hard time finding something that works and has reached the conclusion of ‘This must just be how it goes, no matter what.’

    It is great practice for all of us to recognize the tendency in ourselves to do this, but I feel the power lies in the receiver, more than anyone, to turn the conversation around when it starts to get negative and scary. I had to tell people a few times when I was pregnant that I was not interested in hearing birth horror stories, for example, and that doused that subject very quickly.

    • I think perhaps the “You’ll see” is related to resignation; perhaps the reason constructive commentary isn’t offered is because the person has had a hard time finding something that works and has reached the conclusion of ‘This must just be how it goes, no matter what.’

      This is super insightful, and I totally agree. I had a friend who was THE WORST about sleep stuff, constantly crowing about it through my entire pregnancy.

      When Tavi was about a year old, my friend asked me about how sleep was going and I was like “Meh, whatever: It’s fine.” My friend was agog, and swore that he still wasn’t getting a decent night’s sleep — and his daughter was SIX YEARS OLD by then! At that point, I had to just recognize “Wow, sounds like you guys have had a really tough time with sleep — that just hasn’t been our experience.”

      Really, I think my friend was looking for validation and recognition more than anything. It wasn’t about me or my kid or any helpful advice — it was about him needing some recognition and acknowledgment for having had such a difficult experience.

      • “it was about him needing some recognition and acknowledgment for having had such a difficult experience”

        This can be so true. As as person who had a tough time in the beginning, I know this is what it’s about for me when the negative comments start spurting out against my better judgement! I think that recognizing this could save and build a lot of friendships.

      • Yes, I think the “You’ll see” is basically a parent’s way of saying “This happened and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it so rather than feel like a failure I believe its not my fault – it just must be inevitable.”

  12. A) “You’ll never be able to leave the house again, and if by some miracle you do, you’ll need to bring bags and bags of supplies with you!”

    B) “Have you thought of trying a baby sling/wrap? It makes it easy to take baby out, hands-free, and gives baby a comfy & secure place to fall asleep out in public.” About the “tons” of supplies — “You just need a couple of diapers, wipes, and a clean outfit or two.”

    Another one —

    A) A baby costs $10,000/year to raise!
    B) My mom always says small children cost very little (no doubt it does go up as they get into the teen years); offer to go second-handing with expectant parents and help them score deals; or give them a book on baby minimalism.

    • oh! the money thing! i have heard a lot of “you’ll sees” about money. my boss made me feel so much better when telling me about his three year old. he said “you know, we have not found that we really have many extra expenses. we use disposable diapers, and we probably spend about $60 a month on those. other than that, nothing has really changed!” it was refreshing to hear the other side and made me worry a lot less! people who are spending a ton of money have me wondering “what the heck are they buying?”

      so, i think

      A) this is going to cost you so much money! you will be broke!

      would be better presented as

      B) you know, some people find they spend a lot of extra money when their baby comes along, but if you plan and budget, you will get by just fine! a baby doesn’t really need that much, but when you do need something, i know some really great shops and websites where you can get a good deal.

      i have also found that we are getting a ton of hand me downs from all of our friends with kids, so other than buying our cloth diapers and a few fun things like outfits, we haven’t had to spend anything!

      • I think an issue with this rephrasing is that if the person is saying babies are so expensive, they don’t have the experience or understanding to KNOW let alone SAY that babies don’t need much (or know what places to get a good deal).

        The fact is that the only solution in that situation is the same solution to darn near every problem our (global) society has: People need to understand that YOUR experience is not MY experience. Just because “you” spent $10k a year on having a kid doesn’t mean “I” will!

        In the instance of rephrasing that particular experience though, I think I’d go with, “I wish I had realized how much these things add up, and budgeted for them ahead of time.” It assumes that if Your experience will be anything like Mine [i.e. babies are expensive] then hopefully my experience will help you by reminding you to set a baby budget. If nothing else, setting a budget gets people thinking “how much of this is REALLY necessary?” And a new parent who has already bought into the idea that babies are expensive can be brought around to a minimalist baby-raising idea, without even personally knowing someone who has done it. I like any kind of supportive-rephrasing that acknowledges MY experience may not be YOUR experience, but shares what I learned in a way that someone else can use and learn from it.

        • Love the “I wish I had realized how much these things add up, and budgeted for them ahead of time”, and totally hell YES to “People need to understand that YOUR experience is not MY experience”.
          Our aim is that for our first couple of years at least, the “big baby expense” will have been the renovation of study in to nursery. Beyond that, we are going 2nd hand everything possible. We hope. 🙂

    • “A) “You’ll never be able to leave the house again, and if by some miracle you do, you’ll need to bring bags and bags of supplies with you!””

      My husband and I are TERRIBLE about this. Well, terrible depending on your perspective. When my son was about 6 or 7 months old, I met a friend at a nearby lake with just my son in the Moby. No diaper bag, nothin’. She was aghast that I would leave the house without alllllll the supplies.

  13. Thank you for this one.
    Love it.
    I was horrified by the ocean of “you’ll sees” that started the moment I shared the news of my first pregnancy. There seemed to be so much bitterness in many of these sentiments. I’m so happy to say, I’ve continued to sleep some, develop myself as a person, do much of the parenting “things” I hoped I would, and even squeeze in a little world travel-and my daughter has only been on the earth 16 months. Like you said, this isn’t to say I haven’t changed or prioritized, but more people need to hear this.
    Never mind, what “you’ll see.” I find myself telling my friends just cracking into parenting “you’ll have your own experience. I’m so glad I did x. do whatever works for you. sleep is tricky. shopping can be hard. bra shopping with a clingy infant can be weird. call me, I’ll help.”

    • THANK YOU FOR THIS!! I’m about to have my first baby any day now, and I am getting so frustrated by all of the “You’ll see”s coming at me (mostly from my mother-in-law…ughhh).

      Your comment made me feel a LOT better. I’m totally ready to re-prioritize my life (and feel like I already have mentally), and make some major adjustments, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still find a balance, or that the whole business of parenting is going to be one giant horror show.

      • I hate this modern reframing of parenting as a horror show. Yes, some parts of it are horrible. I am currently having a horrible day. But it is not sheer constant horror terror awful. I have no idea why people propagate that falsehood. There are good days and bad, and the ratio varies with your baby and your luck, frankly. Most of it is good. Some of it is hard. There will be horrors. Most of it is good.

        • It’s interesting: I think some people propogate the horror stories because they feel like THEY were fed only rainbows and roses.

          I had one reader of my personal blog who, when I was pregnant, was just a steady stream of negative stories and fear mongering. I finally confronted her about it (“Jeez, why all the horror stories?”) and she was like “Everyone told me parenthood would be beautiful, and that just isn’t the case! It’s hard!” It lead to a really interesting discussion where I shared that because I spent the early ’00s reading mommyblogs like Dooce (who experienced such crushing postpartum depression that she checked herself into a mental institution) my expectations of parenthood were already pretty dark — I didn’t need even MORE stories about how awful it was.

          Ultimately, the truth of parenthood is somewhere in the middle — it’s not all magical rainbows and dancing in the sunlight with your newborn craddled in your arms, and it’s not all bleeding nipples, prolapsed vaginas, and colic.

          • Related: I totally felt like after I gave birth that people led me to believe it would be much easier than it was, and was hella pissed that no one tells me what it feels like when you wake up the first day after your milk has come in (if you’re breastfeeding). My general rule of thumb is not offer pregnancy/birth/parenting/breastfeeding advice unless someone asks me or we’re friends and I know it’s ok, but almost every time someone mentions that they’re breastfeeding I immediately start telling them about the morning my milk came in. AKA THE DAY I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR.

            Over & out.

    • And I can’t help but wonder if the experience of those moments is impacted by your mindset going into them. Just like they say injuries in a car crash can be much more serious if you’re body is tense and “braced foe impact” vs those who didn’t see it coming… I wonder if trying to prepare women for the worst sets them up for a self- fulfilling prophecy where they are waiting for the other shoe to fall.

  14. I’m 6 months into my pregnancy, and I REALLY REALLY appreciate the portion about reframing. I have ONE other friend with a child, and she’s constantly “You’ll seeeeeeeing” in my damn face. While I’m SURE that having a baby is rough, I would appreciate it so much more if what she said was reframed. It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to talk to her anymore, which is a shame, since she’s my only friend with-child.

  15. When I was pregnant I always heard:

    “Oh you want an natural childbirth. just you wait, you’ll be begging for the epidural” (which I did)

    “oh just you wait, 1st babies take for ever. You’ll be in labor for days.” (I wish, mine lasted like 2 hours)

    “you’d rather have a c-section, you’ll see” (i ended up with both).

    “blah blah terrifying experience, blah blah blood, blah 3rd degree tear, blah blah”

    my rephrase:

    “sounds like you really thought out your birth plan. you’re awesome and can totally do it. But if you need any resources or want to talk about potential delivery complications feel free to call me because I probably experienced them all”

    • This is great. I’m so sick of hearing what will or won’t happen (I’m due any day now). I want to say, “OH WOW THANK YOU, I didn’t know you could predict MY future, thanks for the heads’ up!”

      Your rephrase is something I would LOVE to hear from the mouths of friends and family.

  16. A) “You’ll see… you’ll want to go to the hospital and get that epidural!”

    B) “Wow, how are you preparing for your unmedicated birth?”

    Sadly, with this one I think people just don’t understand that preparation is key for having a unmedicated birth. Without the tools I developed through education about labor and birth, and my awesome childbirth preparation course (HypnoBabies) I surely MIGHT have wanted to to go the hospital and get an epidural. However, I was always annoyed at the people who told me I was crazy and that I’d never be able to birth unmedicated at home. (I proved them wrong, by the way.)

    • This. Our homebirth plans got “You’ll see”d constantly.

      (For the record? Barely prepared at all beyond prenatal checkups with our midwife and making sure we had supplied on hand, and everything went beautifully – and FAST.)

  17. Yes, thank you for this. The “You’ll Sees” make my blood boil. I feel like the messages about becoming a parent are so full of fear, anxiety and negativity that I’m constantly at war to stay positive. The “you’ll see” fear-mongering can be almost downright cruel.

    I recently listened to a podcast of women talking about the things they wished they had known about pregnancy, l&d and being a new parent. Very few of their comments had anything to do with the “you’ll sees” and it turned out to be full of truly insightful helpful pieces of advice. Things like, don’t compare your child’s development to your friends’ children and when you go on your hospital tour, be sure to ask what doors are unlocked in the middle of the night. These tips were practical, insightful and REALLY eye-opening for a new parent-to-be like myself.

    So I guess one way to combat the “you’ll sees” is to turn them into a constructive conversation by asking what that person wished they had known. If you can get people to open up and be honest, you can hit on a goldmine of real, valuable advice.

  18. i’m five months pregnant and i’ve been incredibly lucky so far that
    a)i’m the first of my friends to get pregnant (so no words of warning from them),
    b) my mother is pretty open-minded as long as she knows I’ve done my research, my mother-in-law was a breastfeeding cloth-diaperer, and my sister-in-law (the only one who’s had a baby) is even more of a hippie than I am (no vaccines, cosleeping til age three, etc), so very little words of warning from the family.
    One that I have heard a lot is “You’ll never be able to spontaneously go out with friends, and often even planned things won’t work!” which translates to me as “You’ll learn to love staying in with your hubby and little one or inviting people over for grilled cheese and homebrewed beer instead of spending money out” (especially because that’s pretty much how we roll now).
    Another is “Yeah, you say you want a drug-free homebirth NOW, but just wait…” which I just dismiss as ignorance. I know it’ll be tough. It’s work. It’s “labor.” But I also can’t wait to be drug-free and in the comfort of my own home when I snuggle and hopefully nurse my brand new baby for the very first time.

  19. I eventually just told the “Oh you’ll seeeee.” crowd to shut up. Their advice was right neither for pregnancy nor for the 18 months of parenting I’ve got behind me now. My pregnancy is not yours, my child is not yours, now go away.

    I think I said something to the effect of, “Do you want me to have all these problems? Because I don’t.”

  20. I don’t have children so I don’t have any advice to offer on child-rearing. I think even if I were to have children, I still wouldn’t have any advice because, man, I’ve watched people do it so many different ways! Mostly I just like to listen to parenting stories.

    However there is one thing I feel compelled to talk to my friends about when they are expecting their first child : the sleep deprivation. This one really seems to catch people unawares and I’ve actually seen it threaten marriages, so here is something (paraphrased) I’ve volunteered (yes! unsolicited!) to friends that I’m very close to:

    “I’ve watched many friends and family members be surprised by the effect sleep deprivation can have on their lives. I know your family will find its own path but while that’s happening, it might be a good time to adjust your expectations for daily life because this process might take longer than you expect. Be easy on yourself and your partner. Chores can slide. If you derive a lot of satisfaction from making and checking off long to-do lists, you might want to suspend that activity for a while. There’s no such thing as ‘super parent bonus points’ so get help whenever you need it, ideally even before you need it. Take all the short-cuts.”

    If it’s warranted I might also mention the early signs of postpartum depression.

    So far I’ve never had this blow up in my face. I think I manage to get away with it because :

    1) I absolutely do not comment on “how to get a baby to sleep through the night” cause that shit is really variable. My only goal is to gently suggest that changing their outlook might be the only thing they have control over.
    2) Since I’m not a parent myself, it’s very clear that all I’m doing is reporting on what I’ve observed without any judgment and without any schadenfreude.

  21. “Your house will never be clean again!” I lived in real fear of this one because all of the people I knew who had kids lived in filth. I have reworded this to other expectant parents: “In the first few years, it helped me to prioritize. laundry over dusting. Dishes over cleaning windows. I also gave myself a to do list that was the same every day. Most importantly, I gave myself a break. If you ever feel overwhelmed, call me. I’ll be there without judgment and ready to help out.”

    • For people in fear of this, hear me – my house has never been cleaner. 8 month old baby over here, and my house is near universally perfect (my version of perfect, at least). If cleanliness and tidiness are important to you, you WILL make it happen.

      • Ah, the house getting awful didn’t happen when my kids were small, it was when they got bigger and didn’t want to help with housework. My big mistake was saying “no, thanks” to help from them when they were 3, so it was a lot harder to get them to pitch in when they were 13. My younger one is still a slob, but my older one (age 26) keeps his house cleaner than I do mine.

    • lol, 5 months pregnant and I have a daily to-do list now that is identical. I dont HAVE to get through it all every day, but if I can get the bulk of the daily list done (and its as simple as “Load the dishwasher, make the bed, check the mailbox” (etc to about 12 items), and get one item a day done off the fortnightly list (Mop the floors, change the sheets), then the house stays in good shape.
      I fully intend to use the same practice when Peanut arrives, in hopes that when it comes my turn to give parenting advice, I know if it works and can pass it on.

  22. I can only think “thank goodness” for this happy kind of parenting information that actually makes me feel like having a child doesn’t mean the end of *my* life.

  23. Your number 4 has been true for us simply because most of the “you’ll seeeee”ers who said that to us are continually insisting that we’re depriving our children by not swimming in a house that is knee high in plastic crap and bring us said plastic crap to “help”, often by the car load. I can’t seem to get rid of it fast enough.

    The one I heard most was how kids eat your finances alive. I admit, we aren’t swimming in cash, but we are really no worse off than before kids. It took a little careful consideration of how we parent, but it has worked out. I wish someone had said “You know, if you let all the marketing for ridiculous baby junk get to you, this does get really expensive, but don’t worry. All they REALLY need is a dry bottom, a full tummy, warmth, a place to sleep, and lots and lots of love. If you need some help, there are a bunch of ways you can save on those things too. ____, ____, and _______ have been life savers for us.”

    • Oh us too! I can’t seem to explain to my family that we don’t need so much junk! Why not buy just a few, nice presents? Or give us gifts of experiences (like swim lessons for my son)? We don’t need 50 new toys from each grandparent at every little holiday!

    • Thankfully our friends (and my parents) have been VERY much: Babies need love, somewhere safe to sleep, food, warm clothes and a dry bum. EVERYTHING else can wait.

      Plus, I read a really good parenting book which calmed my need to have “all the things”, which told me (and I didn’t know this!) that your baby will likely only be awake for about 4 hours a day for the first few weeks. Ok. Now I’m prepared for that – and fine with only having some clothes, diapers, bottles (in case needed), a bed and a carseat. The rest can wait.

  24. The “you’ll sees” I’ve been getting are more to do with the fact I’m expecting in September, so I hear a lot of “you think it’s bad now? Just wait and see how swollen/big/uncomfortable/hot you’ll be in august!” What I’d love to hear is “I did my best to stay cool and comfy by doing a, b and c. I hope they work for you too.”

    • I’m due in September, too, and for every person who’s warned me about how miserable I’ll be, I’ve had just as many women say to me, “You’re lucky to be pregnant during the summer. It’s so much easier to dress for pregnancy when it’s warm (i.e. the empire waist sundresses that are so trendy, wrap skirts, tank tops), and so much easier to get your exercise in!” People have also recommended homemade sorbet, iced teas, and watermelon.
      Plus, I live two blocks from the beach. If I get overheated, I plan to waddle down and just sit in the waves…

      • Yes! I live in Israel (hot!) and gave birth in Oct, so I got a lot of this. But being pregnant during the summer was fine for me… I wore a lot of sun dresses, spent time in the pool, and used the AC guilt-free whenever I felt like it. 🙂

    • I’m getting a lot of this with this pregnancy, I’mdue in August. I know it’s going to be hot, but at least I live some place dry and can wear cool clothes. During my last pregnancy I was due in November, so I wasn’t too big in the summer, but I spent the summer in Maryland (so humid!) and was in the Army, so I wore combat boots and ACUs all day, every day. I was so miserable! If I could make it through that, I can make it through this summer pregnancy.

    • I delivered in October, and am due again in September, so yeah, the heat got to me. Wardrobe choice is KEY! Second is making sure your water bottle is full all the time. Lemon or lime makes it tastier, but if things get really rough, bust out some sort of frozen treat (I like the ice pops in the cheapie plastic tube) and eat it as slowly as you can before it melts. Getting that belly cooler helps out the whole body.

Read more comments

Join the Conversation