I was watching the amazing Chalize Theron movie Tully the other night, if you’ve never seen it I cannot recommend it highly enough. I found it incredibly relatable in terms of the realities of motherhood, the stress, the loneliness, the pressures and my struggles with post-natal depression and maternal mental health.
There’s a scene at the start of the film, where an about-to-pop Marlo (Theron) is in a café after dropping her other two kids off to school. She’s exhausted from being so heavily pregnant and from looking after her two other kids, one of which has extra needs. She’s clearly not full of the ‘joie de vive’ you might expect from a first time mum, as clearly this third bundle was something of a surprise baby.
In any case, all the woman wants to do is sit down and with a muffin and a hot drink in peace. She looks longingly over the baked goods, but decides to deny herself presumably thanks to the endless judgement that’s heaped on pregnant women these days about their weight and dietary habits. Instead she orders a skin decaf latte.
To which a complete stranger of a woman beside her pipes up, right out of the blue; ‘you know there are still trace amounts of caffeine in that right?’ Her eyes full of scorn and judgement as if Marlo has just ordered a triple vodka and coke.
HOLY FUCKING CHRIST! I shouted at the telly!
Did she ask for your judgement? I must have missed the part where she put that in with her order? Because I heard her order a decaf fucking coffee, not a hot steaming mug of guilt and contempt from some interfering, old, busy body who decided to poke her nose in and make this woman feel like shit.
‘Calm down Niamh, it’s only a movie,’ my bemused hubby said.
Yes, it’s just a movie, I thought, but Jesus it got me thinking about how many times I’ve had to put up with people judging me and my decisions as a mother and even when I was pregnant.
Oh you shouldn’t eat that.
No you can’t lift that.
My god you’re huge, are you sure it’s not twins?
You're very neat, as you sure there's a baby in there?
You look so tired, did you not take your vitamins?
I only gained a few pounds during my pregnancy.
You’re going running, while pregnant?
Are you sure that’s safe?
You can’t drink coffee when you’re pregnant.
I’m a complete stranger, why don’t I just touch your belly.
Enough, enough, enough! Look, while I’m all for passing on pearls of wisdom to friends or family who are actually looking for it, what I am not for, is the passing of judgement on pregnant women, by complete strangers, or anyone else for that matter.
Frankly it’s none of your bloody business if a pregnant women decides to stand on her head and drink a super-sized latte with a moxy load of big macs and a side of deep fried Oreos.
Jog on and keep your judgements to yourself.
What pregnant women really want is support and kindness. A smile. A well wish. It can be a scary time for some women. Our bodies are going through huge changes, hormones are running amok. Some women are facing their own anxiety, terrified something will go wrong. Some might be facing a terrible foetal diagnosis and are forced to go out and put a brave face on and the last thing they need is you making them feel like shit for ordering a coffee! But you know what, even if all is well with a pregnancy and the woman in question, that still doesn’t mean you should shit all over her by judging her for something you deem as wrong, no matter what your own thoughts.
Instead why not tell her, ‘you look great or how are you feeling,' and bloody leave it at that!