Open Mouth, Insert Foot… And Everything Else, Too

I can be quite tactless at times. I don’t know why. I just say the dumbest things at the wrong time.

Yesterday afternoon the innocent victim of my stupidity was a wonderful woman whose son attends the same school Ben goes to. Her son was in Ben’s classroom last year. She and I would talk often while we waited for the kindergarten class to let out, but once cool weather hit, we all started using the drop off/pick up line at school, where you pretty much stay in your heated vehicle and your child races to the car and hops in. I hadn’t seen or talked with her in months. She and her husband were there on the last day of school, but were sitting on the opposite side of where I was, and we were all watching our children ham it up by singing cute songs about their ABC’s and what they learned in kindergarten. By the time the presentation was over, her family was gone.

So, she and I both park in our usual spot- a block or so from the front entrance of the school. She has three boys total, and I’ve always found her to be an amazing woman. She could easily line up in the drop off/pick up line, but when the weather is nice, she’s always out there, toting her preschooler and her infant to go and wait for their big brother. Yesterday after getting Nolan from his car seat, I noticed she was placing an infant car seat in the double stroller she has. I was confused by this. Yes, I know. It takes me a minute or two to put it all together.

I take a look and see a beautiful little baby sleeping- and of course I was completely amazed. She looked at me with a look of utter exhaustion and a faint smile. “When did this happen?!?” I blurted this out. (tactless move #1). She shrugged and told me it had happened over the winter and no one knew, because we were always in our cars. She also told me it wasn’t a planned blessing, but one nonetheless, and all the way to front entrance of the school I just kept commenting on how surprised I was, and blah blah. (tactless move #2). I know this woman, but I don’t KNOW this woman. Somewhere in my oohing and aahing she had mentioned her little girl was born 3 weeks ago. I told her I thought it was wonderful that she was out there walking and handling her brood after just 3 small weeks. OK, I don’t think that was tactless. But don’t worry, we aren’t at the entrance yet.

Again, this woman doesn’t owe me anything. NO explanation. NO story. She does tell me that they were completely shocked by this as well, and she was concerned because she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to handle everything, even though her husband kept reassuring her things would get easier and better. I proceed to give her a few examples of friends I know with more than 3 kids and how they are able to pull it off and she’s standing there looking at me with a polite smile, but I know inside she’s thinking, “Seriously?!? Are you giving me some sort of pep talk???” (tactless move #3). Yes, I was. I just rolled with it. Like a tiny pebble that embanks itself into snow and keeps rolling, snow stuck and grew into a bigger and bigger ball. I can’t believe she didn’t interrupt me. She should have. And then I said (tactless move #4), “Yeah, my husband and I have decided we are done. We are fine with just two. Taking care of this one (nodding over to Nolan) is like taking care of two!”

What??? And I also tell her somewhere in my vomit of words, (tactless move #5) “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. I know it doesn’t feel like that now…” so what if that’s a true statement? Does she really need to hear this now, after just giving birth??? And what do I know, with just my two?

I can feel the awkwardness settling in around us. Maybe this makes me a little more nervous, because I can sense I am treading on territory I shouldn’t be.

Our boys are released from the school, and before I leave, I need to make one last stupid statement: “Well, you look great- and you are still standing!” (#6)


Listen, some of you reading this might think this isn’t a big deal- but those of you who have just had a baby, whether it’s your first child or your fifth, are horribly sleep deprived, cranky, unnerved, and just trying to survive the days. Would you really want some person who is practically a stranger talking with you in this manner? I seriously don’t know where this all came from. I am usually more understanding, having just been there myself. It’s a really rough time- and I had to act like such a total moron. I considered apologizing today, but it might make it worse.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s in the line today, sitting in her car, where she’s nice and safe.



5 thoughts on “Open Mouth, Insert Foot… And Everything Else, Too”

  1. I would apologize (something, like I was so excited to see you and surprised by your new bundle of joy that I acted like a doofus. I am sorry for my tactless remarks.) and then hand her a small token for her baby (here I have this for baby girl) and shut up. I am good at apologizing, I have permant tread marks on my tongue from having my foot in there so much.

  2. Instead of apologizing, offer to take her son after school for a playdate sometime. Pick her up something just for her… Or invite her over for coffee/tea… Mothers with little children need companionship. You can make this little failure of filter into a good excuse to make a friend, someone who may just need one.

  3. Thank you ladies- both are good suggestions. I should apologize AND offer to spend time with her or help her with her kids. I’ve offered up playdates before, and she wasn’t receptive. But I’ve never offered to take her eldest after school, that’s a good idea.

  4. I like what Sara B said! However, how many flub ups did you note? Was it six? You should offer to take her kids a whole afternoon!! Maybe she could get some rest LOL You are so funny! You should apologize, you could be missing out on an opportunity to make a great friend and I know for a FACT that she’d be missing out on the opportunity of knowing you as a friend, don’t cheat her of that!! I love ya! Great read Sara, thanks for sharing!!

  5. I don’t think you had any bad intentions. She was probably just exhausted and ready to take anything the wrong way. I was worried I said something to offend a friend of mine when I was trying to be supportive and positive after something personal she told me, but I think we’re all good now. I didn’t hear from her after I had sent my e-mail and that’s what made me paranoid.

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