This past August, I married my dude of a million (okay, 13) years in front of friends and family and had a big party. Along with the running jokes about tying the knot after over a decade of dating, it turned out I also had to negotiate a repeated dig that stemmed from being behind "STFU, Parents." The dig went something like this: "You guys are finally getting married? Congrats! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO START HAVING BABIES, HUH? Hahahahaha." It's a joke I heard countless times in the months leading up to the wedding, and at least a few people lobbed it at me at the wedding itself. Because my friends and family tend to have a good sense of humor, I knew this was a subject they brought up mostly in jest. No one actually cared when or if my now-husband and I plan to have kids, or exactly how many, or whether I plan to give birth in a forest, in a bathtub, or with a dolphin by my side. (For the record, I plan to have a Minnie-assisted birth in a public bathroom at Disney World OR a Lasagna Birth, which is when you just eat lasagna throughout your entire labor while reclined in a La-Z-Boy.) I never took offense to my friends' baby jokes, but I did think about all of the people (women, especially) who are obnoxiously asked this question in total sincerity from the moment they get engaged until...well, forever in some cases.
Weddings, marriage, and divorce are three subjects I covered in an old column about "milestone-jacking," but perhaps it's time to revisit the idea that milestones -- particularly the ones that could lead to or involve children -- can occasionally elicit the worst sides within us. Even I seem to be culturally conditioned to think "Why aren't they married yet?" or "They've been married for what, six years? Are they not having kids, or...?" Most of that is just me being nosy and comparing my own life track to others', but I also think there's something about milestones that are specific to matters of the heart (marriage, divorce) that stir up the selfishness in us all. In the case of today's submissions, parents are reminded of other people's relationships and can't help but remark on their own "journeys" (if you consider a "journey" to mean "your thing reminds me of how I have kids"). It's almost reflexive behavior, like telling little Spurgeon to use Purell at the playground.
When a friend posts about her own love life, these parents immediately lodge themselves in the center of the conversation. Sometimes the comments can be interpreted as relevant; at all times they should be considered mommyjacking (and daddyjacking) on someone else's big important news. Parents, if you're exhibiting the nasty habit of hijacking someone else's milestone, put a halt to it now. (But keep jokingly asking your engaged friends when they plan to have babies. It can be funny if you're buying them a drink in the process.) Here are some reactions to relationship news that should be taken under advisement.
1. Double Mommyjacking
Individually, I wouldn't have cringed as hard at these responses to Jessica's excited status update. But together, they're a lethal duo of "guess who's a parent now and doesn't give a fuuuuuck!!?!? (hint: ME!)." Patrick and Nicole, just say congratulations and be done with it. No one needs your smiley faces and name abbreviations. (If Patrick had said 'Z-man,' which you know he must say all the time, I might've punched a pillow.)
2. Babies Offering Congratulations
This is an example of a niche subject I've noticed, and I have a feeling some people won't mind the concept. If you're the type who enjoys babies "talking" on social media and telling it like it is from THEIR perspective (i.e., filtered through their parents' overwrought status updates), then you might think it's cute for a baby to be used to dole out wedding and anniversary congratulations, like a cheesy Hallmark card that sings and dances. But if you see this trend more than once in your feed, you might start to get a little skeptical.
I can't lie: Wyatt is one cute-ass baby, and I'm a fan of bananas, as well, so I can't hate. That said, I think Alan might want to watch his step. His message is heartfelt, but what does his kid have to do with Mike and Karina's big day? When parents frame EVERYTHING to be about their baby, it can get old fast. I'm talking about the people who post a picture after a natural disaster with a caption like "I'm praying for everyone in Tulsa and everyone who's affected by the ongoing conditions there. So here's a picture of a happy baby boy to perk up everybody's spirits!!!" Or, "Hey, old friend, I'm so proud of you for finally getting your Ph.D.! My little Reignbeau was so excited when I told her, she made you a video singing her favorite Taylor Swift song. It's 11 minutes long." It's a slippery slope.
3. Wedding Anniversaryjacking
There's always that one person who gleefully tells you she knows that it was *your* wedding night that her kid was conceived -- and isn't that freaking funny?? And wouldn't it be even funnier if she reminded you of that fact every single year that you announce your anniversary?! Hahaha. Baby conception. Hotel boning. Wedding sex. Lol. Thanks guys xx
I don't know what disturbs me the MOST, but I can outline what I find uncomfortable about Laura's comment:
I. The Use Of Emoji
A. The poop-with-eyes emoji as a sentence opener. The message is abundantly clear: Poop is on the way.
B. The smiley face at the end of the not-so-common expression "pooping her brains out." Thanks for the visual.
II. The Word Yummy
A. We just got through staring at a delicious shrimp po'boy.
1. She's not referring to poop, but she may as well be.
III. Assumptions About Procreation
A. Don't make them.
B. Can't you just let this couple celebrate six months of marriage without bringing up feces, babies, and the word 'yummy' as an afterthought?
1. A reminder that po'boys are still delicious.
2. This couple probably doesn't want to think about poop right now. I don't celebrate an anniversary with my partner by having a shit-fest. Do you?
4. Childfree Mommyjacking
I don't know if Ashley wrote her comment to be funny (?), or because she's that transfixed by her beautiful baby, who I'm sure is set to grace People Magazine's 'Most Beautiful Baby Alive' issue, but suffice it to say, I think Amy has "won" this round. I know she did, because I heard a little bell go off in my head after I read her reply. Granted, Amy's original status update is a bit maudlin for my taste, but hey, sentimental can be good, right? Except when it comes in the form of mommyjacking, and particularly when aimed at someone who identifies as childfree. Unless, of course, Ashley is just joking and Amy is overreacting. But then, why would it have gotten submitted to STFU, Parents? #pointstoponder
5. Sanctimommy Divorcejacking
Chandra, I'm so glad that the good lord done hand picked your husband out for you so your children could grow up in a really nurturing, loving, safe environment -- but could you please shut the hell up about your good fortune on other people's Facebook updates? What kind of comment is that to leave on someone else's divorce update? Ginny has been through a year's worth of strife and is ready to move on. The last thing she needs is a reminder of her friends' robust, "so inlove" relationships and preachy proclamations about marriage being a blessing. I'm pretty sure right now Ginny is thinking "fuck marriage!", so how about just letting her? Sometimes you're better off not saying anything at all, even if what you have to say is still technically "nice."