I guess this post comes as unmistakable proof that either no one reads Raising Elle or that the old sibling truth of “if you want to get a pestering sibling to do something to exhaustion, tell them that it bothers you” is true as far as East is East and West is West. The fifth post on Raising Elle was one entitled A Request of Parents From a Not-Yet-a-Parent and it explicitly details one of those early annoyances of new parenthood (like the “world is caving in on me” anxiety attacks and the mile-long checklist of pre-third trimester items wasn’t enough). It’s what I’ve come to know as the “just waits.”
My lovely wife and I were driving to Lubbock (an easy one hour and forty-five minute drive. Important that we don’t travel more than two hours away as we’ve entered the blackout period for travel) and she said, “I like it when people are excited about your pregnancy.” I took it at face value at first, but then realized what she was saying. “And you apparently can’t complain either about pains or sleep.” She’s been hit attacked by the just waits.
You see, in pregnancy, both mother and father-to-be are exposed to a flurry and uncontrollable infestation of these things. They kill the happiest of moments. They make the worsen the worst moment of your life. They’re the punchline that no one asked for. It’s like a whammy. It’s like Nelson Muntz killing your cool with the blast of a “ha ha!” It’s as almost as they’re banding against you like some snipe-hunt or hazing ceremony where their sole job is to make you regret ever becoming pregnant. They’re they proverbial buzzkill.
I’m not entirely where it stems from and why they insist on it, but it’s as predictable as night and day. You can almost play a game to bait the comment–deliberately injecting certain key words or phrases into your dialogue to see if they fall for it because they’re hanging on your every word. They’ve been waiting for fifteen years to son a new parent or yank a new mother out of her elation.
Just say it. C’mon, Erin. Tell me how tired you are. Tell me how you wish that you could just down and have a peaceful night out with your husband. Tell me how you miss working in the garden or going shopping. Tell me how it used to be so simple. Tell me how weak your stomach is. Tell me how your back hurts.
They’re just waiting to hit her with a deluge of just waits. I know how it’s meant but I’ve still yet to see it come out as intended. It’s a failure every time. It comes out like the parent that hated being a new parent or hated some element of being a new parent and that scar is their Parenting merit badge that they get to throw in your face because they survived. They conquered. And you haven’t survived or conquered anything yet. And even if you did, they’d make it sound like their adversity was ten times as worse. It’s the ultimate topper. Take the following simulation:
Early in the first trimester, my lovely wife says, “Courtney, I gotta tell you, my hips are absolutely killing me.”
Now, Courtney could respond as a supportive and loving being and exude some sympathy because Courtney, too, as experienced this pain as she has brought three children into this world. Courtney could even give advice as to how we could make the hip problems subside. Parents are never short of advice. This one thing is true. Courtney could even make a light joke not at my lovely wife’s expense but rather to her benefit. Make her laugh it off. Courtney instead returns with the following statement:
“Just wait, Erin. It gets ten times worse.”
Courtney, in recalling her own personal experiences could not find any empathy for Erin. She could not understand the value in reaching a hand out to help this new young mother. Instead, this was a perfect opportunity to blast her by displaying how strong of a person she is because she survived pains that were ten times as worse. She accomplished this in just seven words. Erin returns with an innocent:
“I don’t know how it could get worse. This is horrible.”
Courtney, unable to control the impulse of topping, she goes one step further to let Erin know that, with no doubt, she went through more for longer and that Erin’s pains aren’t even in the same league as hers. They’re not even in the same sport.
“Yeah, imagine those pains becoming ten times worse with a recently replaced hip. I broke my hip after falling into a creek during a fishing trip in New Mexico. Got a rod and three pins put into my hip and then was pregnant four months later.”
Courtney has drawn the line in the sand and has essentially let Erin know: you are not in any kinda pain. You are weak. Suck it up. Whatta friend.
The men go at it much more subtly because, let’s admit it, we’re all in the same boat. We got it a ton easier than the ladies do. Exchanging just waits amongst men is the ultimate in futile competition. It’s completely meaningless but still, because men are stubborn beings who can not possible avoid the opportunity to top another man, they’ll do. Damn right they will. Let’s take a real exchange between myself and an acquaintance from work.
I come in complaining about how Tucker the Superbeagle apparently can’t sleep through thunderstorms any more after a terrible hailstorm about two months ago. He now barks through entire storms. One night he barked and whimpered for over two hours. After a night of sleeplessness, I arrive at work complaining about how my young’n kept me up all night barking. I say, “Man, hard night. Tucker was up all night barking at the storms.”
Simple declaration. Nothing special. We all complain about bad nights of sleep. I do even less, though because a standard night is about 5-6 hours. These cats need 7-8 hours these days. Suckas. So, in response to my otherwise harmless declarative, this person decides to use the fact that I’m a father-to-be as a platform for a perfectly placed impact just wait.
Laughing, “Just wait, bro.”
See, what is that? Couldn’t have said something like “that sucks” or “me too.” Instead, he goes right for the purposeless and idle threat. Does he want me to shudder in fear? Does he want me to return with, “Just wait until what?” Is he hoping that I’ll ask him to go to lunch with me so I can learn everything I can from him like he’s Mr. Miyagi catching flies with chopsticks and busting crane kicks on small end of a log on a hazy beach with a pan flute playing in the background?
Everything seems to be fodder for a just wait moment. I can’t sleep. Just wait. I wish I could enjoy just ten minutes of peace and quiet. Just wait. My back hurts. Just wait. I really love my evening walks. Just wait. We saw this great movie last night. Just wait. I got diarrhea over the weekend. Just wait. I wish I could catch the game this weekend with my boys. Just wait. It seems like I hardly have time to do anything anymore. I can’t even get to my lawn. Just wait. I gotta headache. Just wait. I love a good lager. Just wait. I hate the taste of Pepto. Just wait. The Sox really suck this season. Just wait. People drive like idiots. Just wait. What’s with all the mosquitos this year? Just wait. That new Honda Crosstour’s really growing on me. Just wait. I hate peaches. Just wait. I really wish that Led Zeppelin never released Coda. Just wait.
They’re like little elves with Tourette’s. Like little oompa loompas circling around you. Haunting you. They were there when you first announced ya’ll were pregnant saying, “Just wait until the ninth month.” They’ll be there the day she’s born saying, “Just wait until you get home.” They’ll be there when she turns one saying, “Just wait until you hit two.” They’ll be there when she turns two saying, “Just wait until she goes to kindergarten.” She’ll be there when she goes to junior high saying, “Just wait until high school.” They’ll be there when she’s a sophomore saying, “Just wait until she graduates.” “Just wait until she goes to college.” “Just wait until she gets married.” “Just wait until you have your first grandchild.”
I guess I’ll have to deal with this my whole life. I guess you’re right. I’m not the very first person to experience parenthood. I just don’t need to be reminded of it everyday of my freaking life.
I’ll just say this: “just wait” commentary does not qualify as advice. It’s not helpful at all. In fact, it’s the very opposite of helpful. It’s a hinderance to progress. If you would like to offer up advice or uplift us in your thoughts, prayers or words, please feel free. Shower us with your encouragement. “Just waits” are neither funny nor very accurate. They’re just annoying. I’m sorry if this is your first time hearing this. And, for my budding readers who now total twelve people, I’m sorry I had to regurgitate this sentiment. It just has to be said. I do love each and everyone of you. I’m not mad. I’m just fed up and it’s time to go head huntin’.
Sonogram tomorrow. My estimates are that she’s 4.75 pounds and 15.5 inches long. My lovely wife’s estimates are 5 pounds and 17 inches long. Truth’ll come down tomorrow. Just wait.