New parents are often told one resounding narrative of how parenthood operates, repeated so often it becomes a sort of gospel.
They’re told they’ll be exhausted, and they’ll never get a full night’s sleep again. There are endless piles of laundry, constant diaper changes, along with all the emotional highs and lows involved in caretaking.
Yet as one new mom explained on the subreddit r/AITAH, not all entry points into parenthood have to be quite so hard.
The new mom described a conflict with her older sister, Jennie, who has three kids of her own, explaining, “Jennie gave me several warnings about postpartum depression and how hard the baby will be on my marriage.”
The mom explained that her postpartum experience was actually wonderful, full of practical and emotional support from her husband and his family. She noted, “I’m extremely lucky and privileged in my situation and I acknowledge that.”
“I married a man who comes from a culture where women are doted on and not allowed to take on any chores outside of the baby within the first year postpartum,” she stated. “For the first 2 months, all I did was look after our daughter. My husband and his family took care of everything else.”
Her husband took two months of parental leave from work. Her husband’s family cooked their meals and helped clean their house. She explained, “They say that’s what’s normal in their culture… a woman who has just given birth should be taken care of.”
“It makes me emotional just thinking of how much they’ve done for us and how beautiful my experience in motherhood has been so far,” she said, recognizing that her experience is very different from that of other moms, especially those who give birth in the U.S.
She recounted a conversation she had with Jennie, in which she mentioned that she was making her husband’s favourite meal to welcome him back from a business trip. Jennie responded, “Normal women call that just being a mother and a wife, but it’s just a fun activity for you.”
The new mom’s sister told her that she doesn’t ‘sound like a real mother and wife’ because she’s had so much postpartum support.
The mom defended herself, saying, “Not struggling 24/7 doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother.” She told her sister that she sounded “jealous and bitter and that I’m not going to apologize for not struggling as much as she did.”
“I don’t regret it,” the mom stated. “But she ranted to our brother and he told me I was being too harsh instead of understanding why seeing me live an easier life than her would be hard on her.”
A tweet from the account AskAubry noted, “Her sister is mad at the wrong person.”
Her sister is mad at the wrong person. pic.twitter.com/cQ5frg6JD8
— AskAubry 🦝 (@ask_aubry) August 27, 2023
People on Reddit acknowledged that the differences between the two women’s postpartum experiences indicate how deeply American society has failed moms. As one person eloquently explained, the challenges that Jennie went through in her postpartum period hinged on “living in a society that is pro-birth, not pro-child, pro-mother, pro-community, or pro-mutual aid.”
“She’s angry and upset at the way the system has failed her without recognizing that it is the system that failed her — not you — and she’s lashing out at you because it hurts to see you receiving the support that every woman inherently wants (and deserves) postpartum,” they stated.
“It’s sad how we expect motherhood to mean suffering and stress,” noted someone else. “Your husband’s cultural practices sound lovely, and honestly the way things should be when a new life is brought into the family. It’s a lot of work spread among many hands.”
The new mom’s postpartum experience shows how truly beneficial it is for parents to receive tangible support. The aim of her sister’s anger was off, yet her reaction proves that the way motherhood is structured in America causes harm on every level.