Nice Things You Say That Annoy Me

When we have our babies, it is natural to transform into “mama bear”, stopping at nothing to defend and protect. For the mama who has a child facing additional challenges, this instinct goes into overdrive. Having a child with autism has made me respond to certain comments irrationally. I can be oversensitive – even when comments are said in kindness or without any intention of harm.

That is my disclaimer. If you’re curious about what common and harmless things you are saying that make my ears bleed, here goes:

1) “All I want is a healthy baby.”
I get that. It makes sense to me – health is the most important gift we can ask for. But, bring out my psycho sidekick self and you want to know what it hears? It hears that the very last thing you want is a child like mine. I know that’s not really what’s being said, but it’s what the little friend in my head is hearing!

2) “Your son was born to you because you are strong and can handle it.”
I understand and appreciate this is a compliment, but in those early and difficult days when I was digesting an autism diagnosis, I wanted to scream “So let me get this straight – I’m rewarded for being a competent parent by having a kid with autism?!” My rational self knows you are encouraging me but that little crazy me is turning red, stamping feet and yelling “it’s not FAIR” better than any 4-year-old you’ve encountered.

3) “He’s lucky to have you.”
The thing is, I’m lucky to have him. When I hear how fortunate he is to have me, it makes me feel like you see him as a burden. Please remember, I feel like I picked a four-leaf clover on the morning of his birth.

So next time you say something completely innocent, and I start frothing at the mouth and growling, you’ll know that it’s a simple case of mama bear gone mad.

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30 Responses to “Nice Things You Say That Annoy Me”

  1. Olga

    oh do i hear you. my son was medically intense/fragile until recently, and the whole “it will all work out” when you have no certainty that it will, really got to me. high paw five, from one mama bear to another.

  2. Rebekah

    I SO hear you! My daughter has cerebral palsy and, boy, have I heard some crazy comments from well-meaning people! She’s also adopted, so that opens up a whole other can of worms (and stupid comments). I especially hear you with the “She’s so lucky to have you” one. Then we also hear, “So, are you ever going to have kids of your own?” I want to yell, “Sweetheart, she IS mine! I fought for her every day to become part of our family. I CHOSE her. She could not be any more ‘mine’ if God above had descended on a cloud and placed her directly into my arms!”

    The best comment I ever got (because it was hilarious, not because it was true) was from another parent of a child with special needs after we explained that we were getting ready to adopt another child with some needs and he didn’t miss a beat and said, “Well, you are going straight to heaven!” Ha! I thought it was hysterical. Maybe if he wasn’t another parent of a kiddo with special needs I’d have taken it another way, but I thought it was too funny.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to hear from other moms and dads who “get it” you know?

  3. Sandra

    I worked with children with autism for 6 years and I wholeheartedly believe that the world is a much better place because they exist. Such beautiful children with so much to give!
    I understand why you feel that way about comments people make. When I told me people I was an educator they’d almost always so “that’s hard work”. Maybe it is but it was so much more rewarding than any other job I could possibly imagine. I felt fortunate to know those children.

  4. Julie Cole

    Oh Rebekah – yes, parents who adopt get loads of classic comments. I was just saying to another mom who commented about it on facebook, don’t you love when people ask about the ‘natural’ mother….so what are you?? the “unnatural” mother??? The thing that bugs me is the trash mags who show a picture and say “this is hugh jackman with his adopted son…”. Why do they put ‘adopted’ into that sentence instead of just saying “son”??
    Olga – high paw five back ‘atcha!

  5. Chrystal

    Thank you sooo much for sharing Julie .. its a double edged sword being praised & questioned almost at the same time.
    I can relate to much of what you have said, and I must admit I am damn PROUD of being that psycho momma bear at times, it may not be the most pleasant sight and more times than not I do my tempertantrums in the bathroom (aKa as the haven away from the spectators LoL) but I am who I am, and my child is whom my child is … we fit like a perfect puzzle, that has of course taken years to put together.
    Again, THANK YOU <<>>> And no ‘cliche’ words of praise or whatever ;) Just keep being you !!!

  6. Heather Hamilton

    How about “I don’t know how you do it, you are Super Mom”…
    I am not a super mom, but like you a Mother Bear who will do anything she can to protect her son. I do all I do because he is my wonderful son and taking care, providing for and unconditional love is in the job description- no matter how hard it may be. I know no other way to me- just Zack’s mom…really, he is the “super” one!

    • Julie Cole

      good point about the ‘super mom’ title. It also sets up an expectation….am I allowed to reach out for support or have a breakdown?? I hope so – but that title makes you feel not entitled!

  7. paula schuck


    What a kettle of worms and a great post! I so get this. We hear the dumbest comments all the time. My daughters are both adopted and my youngest has spd and fasd. Her meltdowns are huge and brutal to weather and I have actually heard this comment from a relative (if they gave me one like that I would toss her back…etc..)She has multiple disabilities and she is one of the bravest children I know. She has been since birth when she fought to live despite horrendous illness and withdrawal from various substances. People don’t think. And they isn’t she lucky to have a parent like you. Oh and also the “You must be a saint.” Nope, just a Mom who occasionally could use compassion and or help.

    • Julie Cole

      exactly! I think the ‘you must be a saint’ is like the ‘supermom’ comment….are saints allowed to ask for help or get exhausted??

  8. Chrystal

    Meet you in the bathroom Julie ;) I will have the essentials loaded under the sink .. shhhh dont tell but there could be a bottle of wine stashed under there if you want ;)
    HUGE HUGS !! Keep up the great Momma Bear blog !! I adore it and it has brought a sense of ‘im ok & im not alone’ !! THANK YOU <3

  9. Linda

    Wonderful post Julie.
    I can understand why some of these comments would get to you…particularly if you hear them over and over. I know we all say these things because we want to say something nice or encouraging…but maybe we should all think twice before we say it.
    And, for the record, the “super mom” thing drives me nuts (not that anyone has ever called me that. LOL!) We’re all just Moms. We get what we get, we love unconditionally, and we do the best we can and whatever it takes.

  10. Diana Lee

    People say such stupid things when they don’t know what to say or feel uncomfortable. There is no rhyme or reason to anything we deal with in our lives. We all just do the best we can with what we’re given.

  11. Karen

    I have had three babies with no health problems at all, and the comment about “as long as it’s healthy” really bothers me. When people would ask if I hoped for a boy or girl, I would reply that it didn’t matter. They would usually then laugh and say “as long as it’s healthy nothing else matters.” I always tried to answer that I would love my child whether it was healthy or not, I am just thankful for the gift of a child.

    • Julie Cole

      Oh WeaselMomma – rabies shots is right!! To even for a second imply that losing your daughter is somehow a ‘relief’ is absolutely outrageous!! holy cow, I’m frothing at the mouth right now. Thanks for sharing.

  12. WeaselMomma

    Oh, I get this! I do not have any children with autism, but I get it. We did have a daughter born with Downs Syndrome and I, like you, was instantly in love and had the best baby in the world. People’s comments, although meant to be encouraging, can be very painful.
    I say ‘did’, and it’s still really do, because unfortunately she has passed away. People still made comments that hurt, like “I’m sorry anyway” and “Now you don’t have to worry about her”.
    Yeah, there was more than one occasion that people should have had to go get a rabies shot.

  13. Manda

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot lately, one of my twins was recently diagnosed with spd and his melt downs are a sight to be seen. There’s been a time when someone actually thought I was kidnapping my son! Luckily is identical brother was wrapped around my leg saying, “Mama go, Mama, go now” I get the worst looks and comments and I really want a shirt that says “Caution, may bite when provoked” on the back. People just don’t think when they speak.
    I HATE when my parents say, “I don’t know how you do it. I could have never dealt with everything you go through.” UGH! Finally I started saying back that I can’t hang a sign around his neck ‘Free to a good home’ and put him on the side walk now can I?”
    Sorry, one of my friends just found out she was pregnant and made the healthy remark and got me going again. I wouldn’t change my little Devin for the world. I love him just the way he is, why is it so hard for other people to do the same?

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