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I Knew It! Fighting the Know-It-All Motherhood Trap

The Village Touching The BellyWhen Quinn was born, I quietly swore to myself that I would not be that “know it all” new mother. I rubbed my roundly pregnant belly and promised myself that I would be open-minded with the simpletons who insisted on giving me advice, even if I knew better. I’d welcome The Village and nod in deference.

I also promised that I wouldn’t let those same people chuckle to themselves for my being overprotective or over-researched. None of that, “Isn’t she cute? Not letting him eat off the floor! Just wait til she has her next kid. No more bubble-wrapping her babies then. Silly little girl playing Mommy.”

I would hit the ground running with kid #1 as though he were kid #5! Just watch me!

Oh, I would strike all the right chords, let me tell you. I would be well-researched on all of the latest child development studies AND let my kid eat off the floor.  Just confuse the bones out of all of my lookers-on, that’s right! You think you have me pegged? Ha! Watch me feed my child exclusively organic food in his hemp jumper AND vaccinate him to the hilt while letting him watch TV.

You don’t know me. (insert Z-snap here)

For good measure, I might find a study that stated letting kids eat off the floor is a good thing. Something about building immunity. Cover my bases.

In short, I had read too many magazine articles and absorbed too many modern parenting books. I imagined an army of strangers and loved ones poking their nose in my business (seriously, that’s what all of the articles swore would happen) and so I prepared. I would be graceful… while still knowing better. I would pull it off.

I absolutely wouldn’t do my all-time favorite thing in all of the whole wide world and SET THESE PEOPLE STRAIGHT.

And sure enough, it came: the unsolicited advice.
Okay, I’ve got this. I studied. Deep breath. I’m ready.

What I wasn’t ready for, however, was the finality with which people would offer their advice. As though it wasn’t advice but straight facts:

“Don’t feed your baby whole milk! I know you think chubby babies are cute but whole milk will make him fat!”

Hold it now. I know I was supposed to nod deferentially to this “fact” being offered so generously but I felt an obligation to all of the babies who could ever come in contact with these people in the future to (brace yourself) set these people straight.

Whole milk? Whole milk is pediatrician recommended for healthy brain development. Think of it as protective fuel for the mind. Yes, chubby baby cheeks are cute (how did you know I thought that?) but I’m not fattening up my baby for a photo op. I’m protecting his brain.

But goodness forbid I am too protective:

“What? Pshaw! It didn’t hurt me when I was a kid!”

That one was lobbed willy-nilly in response to any hesitation I showed. Take artificial dyes. I was really pretty sure that I didn’t need to feed my baby anything that sort-of kind-of glowed. Unfortunately, food that sort-of kind-of glowed was incredibly popular in the 80′s and, you know, didn’t hurt any of those kids that ate it.

Ahem.

This is where I become aware of the land mines I am skipping through with my new baby on my hip. I want to tell them that, in fact, artificial dyes have been linked with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders, but odds are really fairly good that their kid was saddled with one of those diagnoses and I would, in effect, be handing them a handful of blame without realizing it.

So. Sigh. No. I just can’t. And I nodded deferentially.

Seven years later and hindsight all the rage, how did I do with my first stab at motherhood?

In my memory, I hit all the right notes and never let those suckers peg my parenting style. But now, seven years and two more children later, “they” seem to remember my first run at motherhood differently.

When I let Iris (2 years old) live solidly within the 5-second Rule of eating food off the floor? They chuckle at me and share nostalgic stories about how I would have sooner died than let Quinn do that. When I respond to my 5 year old, Grey, falling out of a tree with a hearty, “Shake it off!” they sigh and reminisce about when Quinn was little and apparently some other Megan used to rush to his rescue at every bump and stumble.

This infuriates me. I could have sworn that I absolutely did not do those things. I mean, I deliberately planned to avoid doing those things, let alone simply being mindful not to do them.

How could I remember those BabyMoon days so differently? I could have sworn I was the laid-back but mindfully good mom on the stuff that mattered.

Blergh. Do you remember your early parenting days differently than those around you seem to recall them? Regardless of your intentions, how did you handle all of the advice lobbed at you? Graceful? With a sneer? Do tell.

• • •

A big thanks to YoBaby for sponsoring this campaign.  Click here to see more of the discussion.

Oh! And I promised in my last post to tell you how I reacted when I found YoBaby organic whole milk yogurt in my non-organic good ole neighborhood grocery store the first time. This will come as a huge shock to you after reading this post but finding it now widely available equalled vindication of sorts and… I more or less grabbed the pack and came just short of holding it triumphantly over my head and shouting, “I knew it! I knew this yogurt was better for our babies than the day-glo stuff they usually pass off as fine!” You know, set them straight.

Read more of Megan’s writing at VelveteenMind.com
Follow her obstacle-vaulting on twitter and Facebook

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