Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Advice" for New Moms

  1. You don't have to listen to anyone else's advice or suggestions...even if you asked for it. Even if it's from me. Maybe especially if it's from me.

That's pretty much it. When I became more visibly pregnant with Jack (which did take awhile), the most random people would give me their two cents on parenting. If I were to generalize, I would say the most likely advisor was a woman in her 40's or older who had one or more teenagers or grown children. I appreciated hearing their stories and I could tell that oftentimes they just wanted to reflect on their early years of parenting and it had more to do with sharing their memories and less to do with telling me what to do with my own kid. Sometimes, though, there was the wackadoo (as my high school freshman English teacher would say) who would be adamant that some miniscule deviation from her recommended parenting style would turn into a lifetime of struggle.

Common examples of things I was to do or do definitely NOT do: definitely breastfeed (until exactly one year, at least one year, until the kid stops, until I shrivel up) , definitely do not use a pacifier, definitely DO use a pacifier, use a pacifier but DEFINITELY NOT until breastfeeding was “established,” definitely use a pacifier but only until exactly four months, etc.

One of my biggest pet peeves about being pregnant was that I could tell that once my baby was born, I would be hopeless to avoid becoming one of “those” women. By my third trimester I had pledged to always be conscious of how I spoke to pregnant women and other mothers and worked on pushing my judgmental thoughts way to the back of my brain. There are things I still think are important for how I raise children but I try not to let it influence how I come across to other parents. Example: Mike and I vaccinate Jack on schedule using the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. I know this is controversial right now and that at least one person will read this and think “THERE IS A 100 PERCENT CHANCE THAT JACK WILL HAVE AUTISM - YOU ARE A WRETCHED MOTHER!” but it is not going to change my (well-researched) position. Because I know how I would feel if someone said this to me, I steer clear of pushing this view on families who think differently.

As we close in on the last few days of Jack's first year, I find that it is harder and harder to keep my mouth shut regarding those tips, tricks, stories and sagas about mothering an infant. My brother- and sister-in-law just had their first baby four days ago (hooray!) and Mike and I have some friends who aren't far behind (hooray!), and during every conversation with one of these only-slightly-newer-than-me-parents I say at least one thing that I later wish I didn't. Usually it's something simple like, “Oh, a swaddle blanket, that's so great, Jack loved to be swaddled. In fact, he was swaddled until he was seven months old.” Ugh! Even now I hate seeing it typed out because I know I have said this at least 100,000 times. At least one other time in this weeks-old blog!

Again, in case my previous mention of this was too subtle, Jack's first birthday is just around the corner. I am reminiscing about the first days, weeks, and months as the date approaches and I can tell that the further removed I am from those days, the more likely I am to force people to listen to me wax poetic about it. Consider this a warning that there may be a few sentimental posts coming your way. I will try to save it for a blog that people read voluntarily and keep it out of my everyday conversations. Other posts coming soon: our first (mis)adventures in home ownership, starting my first job since Jack, football season and why it causes me to overanalyze Jack's future choice of where to attend college.

Thanks for sticking with me through the month of August which turned into a giant cluster that resulted in an empty blog.

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