DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in my 40s and was recently blessed with my first and only child. I am very thin by nature. I gained only 20 pounds while pregnant with my son.
Now people seem to question if I’ve really had a baby. I’ve had people look at me and ask if we adopted! They do not seem to believe that I have just had a baby because I am so thin.
Are all mothers just expected to carry around baby weight for some amount of time these days? Is it not acceptable to be skinny after having a baby? How should I respond?
GENTLE READER: It has nothing to do with theories about postpartum weight. Rather, this is just part of a widespread ad hoc campaign to annoy mothers. Revering motherhood in general doesn’t seem to stop people from picking on mothers in particular.
If you had retained weight, the same people would be informing you that you still looked pregnant. Now you can look forward to hearing their critical opinions of your child-rearing practices, whatever they may be.
Presumably, people whom you know are aware of your pregnancy and the birth, so Miss Manners gathers that you are talking about acquaintances and, very likely, strangers. You do not owe them an explanation, and you should not really care how they think you acquired your son. There is no need to go beyond a curt “no” when asked if he is adopted.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work with a gentleman whose spouse will not allow him to wear a navy blazer with lighter-toned slacks during the winter months. She insists it can be worn only during spring and summer and then tucked away until the following year. I contend that a blazer is year-round attire and can be worn for informal occasions. Your advice is needed.
GENTLE READER: By whom? Your friend is getting perfectly good advice from his wife, and Miss Manners has no wish to interfere. The only real help would be to buy him a winter navy jacket and dark pants.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can you help me with a way to express sympathy or get-well wishes that do not include “I will pray for you” or “I will keep you in my prayers”? Not only is it a cliche, but I do not wish to expose my prayer life, as it is mine alone.
GENTLE READER: Your second reason is better than your first. Fear of using conventional phrases has led many people to come up with such appalling alternative cliches for the afflicted as “It’s all for the best” and “What you need is a more positive attitude.”
What the afflicted want to hear is that you care. You can use that same formula to say that they are in your thoughts or in your heart, or you can merely tell the sick that you dearly wish them well, and mourners that they have your sympathy.
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