exhausted momI’m pretty good with quick, snarky comebacks. But there is one sentence people say, especially to mothers, for which I do not have a good comeback. That sentence is, “You look exhausted.” Sigh.

I began looking “exhausted” 10 years ago, after my daughter was born. For a decade I’ve been looking for the perfect comeback when people say, “You look tired,” or, “You look exhausted,” or, “You look like you haven’t slept in days.” But I can’t come up with one that puts said person in their place while also sounding nice.

One of my friends, after I asked how should people respond to this statement on Facebook, wrote that the perfect answer is, “Fuck off!”

I entirely agree. I do want to tell people, who say to me, “You look tired,” to “Fuck off!”

“Fuck off!” may be how we tired moms and dads want to respond, but in the real world, you can’t just go around telling people to, “Fuck off,” because they said you “look exhausted.”

But nor do you want to answer, “Yes, I am tired. I had to get my child up at six a.m., drive her to swim practice, then get home to take my son to his play group, then fit in some work time, before picking up my son, then I worked a bit more, then I had to pick up my daughter and rush home to get her ready for her play practice and pick up a birthday present for a party she was invited to and now, god-dang, I have to race to the grocery store, because my kids want dinner every damn night. Why do they want dinner every night?”

So, yes, I am fucking tired, sometimes so tired that I wouldn’t be able to string above sentence together aloud.

Why do people need to point this out? Especially if you are a mother? Listen up peeps, if you have a child you more often than not, probably do look fucking exhausted. Why? Because you are fucking exhausted and don’t have your own personal make up artist living with you to hide those bags before leaving the house. We already know we probably look exhausted, so why the hell do you have to go and point it out for us?

When someone tells me I look exhausted, all I hear is that I look like shit. I want the comeback of all comebacks, because, really when you are talking to a mother, especially of a newborn, isn’t it fucking obvious that she, more likely than not, looks “tired?”

Perhaps the snarky route is the only way to go. As one suggested I say, “Thanks, I spent a little extra time putting the bags under my eyes this morning. I’m glad to hear I captured the effect I was going for! Do you think the bloodshot eyes are too much or can I get away with it?”

Even worse is hearing this line thrown at me, on a day, when I’m actually NOT tired. What’s the comeback ? Should it be, “That’s weird. I finally got 8 hours of solid sleep?”

What I usually say is, “Thanks,” sarcastically and then go home and fume for twelve hours because I didn’t have a good comeback. I just want to rewind the scene somehow, and actually say, “Well, I may look tired, but you…” See? I have no comeback.

You could argue that people are, well, stupid for pointing out how tired you look. Kidding. What I mean is you could argue that these people are well meaning. I don’t buy it. If they really were well meaning, why don’t they say something like, “You look really tired. Is everything okay?” Or, “You look exhausted. Is there anything I can do?” Nope! It’s always just, “You look exhausted.”

Of course, I could easily say, “I’ve got kids,” as one person suggested and leave it at that. But I’m not that person. I want everyone who speaks to stop saying that sentence, unless you know, for a fact, I’ve been up all night. It hurts. You can’t help that you look tired. And it makes you wonder what you looked like before you had kids.

No one told me, “You look exhausted,” before I had kids. My friend who says I should tell people to “fuck off,” is aligned with another friend who says that I should say, “Yup I am. Thanks Captain Obvious!” Even my fiancé said I should say to people, “Thanks, stupid.” Another person, who too has been through this, says I should say, “You have crappy teeth. But I’m going to get a good night’s sleep tonight. Sorry that sleep won’t fix how you look!” (Man, I just realized how, um, feisty my friends are!)

Should “exhausted” mothers’ remain nice, saying, “Thanks! Have a good day,” as we walk away, muttering, “What a bitch!” under our breath? News Flash! In real life, mothers’ are not photo-shopped.

Ten years, people, ten fucking years of hearing how tired I look, and I still don’t have a good comeback. One day I might just snap and the next person who tells me I look “tired,” I may, indeed, tell them to, “Fuck off!”

(Image:  lightwavemedia /shutterstock)