A funny thing happened when I had a baby.
Namely, everyone started telling me what to do. At book group. At dinner parties. At the grocery store. At the gas station.
If I’m being honest, this tendency for the world to weigh in really kicked into high gear during pregnancy. But all those who (kindly) chose to stay silent during the nine months of my growing belly bump soon decided that my daughter’s birth was the time to come out of the woodwork.
And out of the woodwork they came.
Since giving birth, I have been given so much advice it could easily fill several hundred Moleskine notebooks. And that’s writing in small letters. Predictably, most of this advice meets one or more of the following criteria.
It might go like this:
I’m at a party, say, with four other women. We start talking about a hot topic, like breastfeeding, or attachment parenting, or the family bed. And then the sirens let loose. The wolves come out to play. Everyone talking at once, no one agreeing with anyone else. Me, the new mom, the focus of everyone’s ire.
- Claire, don’t do X, do Y!
- How dare you do Y, Claire, do Z!
- Whatever you do, Claire, don’t do Z!
- Z? What in God’s green earth is that?!? Earmuffs, Claire, earmuffs!
There are many problems with this type of advice.
(I hate it. It’s annoying. The only thing in life I want is for people to stop. The list goes on.)
But the biggest problem is that I’m a new mom. And, as a new mom, I already feel insecure. I already don’t know what I’m doing 99% of the time. I’m already doubting myself at every turn, looking over my shoulder wondering when my daughter’s real mother is going to show up. So the last thing I want to hear while I test out my mommy training wheels is that I might be doing something wrong, am already doing something wrong, or am about to do something wrong.
I need to experiment. I need to flail. I need to test. I need to try my own hand at being a mom. This is the only way I will learn. This is the only way I will become the mom I’m meant to be.
When I’m on #2, feel free to tell me what to do. I’ll be ready to spar.More On