Tag Archives: Friends

On giving parenting advice.

January 22, 2014


Things I feel comfortable giving advice on: sitcoms, iced tea, how to convince your spouse you need take-out.

Things I do not feel comfortable giving advice on: plumbing, lawn care, how to prepare eggs, parenting.

Here’s the thing, I’m a giant screw up who says a lot of terrible things I shouldn’t say, but giving unsolicited parenting advice is such a black sin that I really try to keep my hands off of it. I believe it’s important for the morale of women. It is especially important to avoid if you don’t have children. If only I could go back and scold my former childless self for ever uttering the words, “Well when I have children!”

No. Shame on you.

Admittedly it is part apathy. I don’t care if you homeschool/co-sleep/let your children watch Spongebob.

But mostly it is a matter of ethics and the fear that people who spew parenting advice are the same people who yell at their kids at soccer games.

Of course there are times to give what I call non-advice, times when parents needs a little help or would benefit from hearing about your personal experience. If you are having trouble knowing when this time is, listen for the following words: “I need your advice.”

It’s pretty simple.

As my peers begin and continue to procreate, I notice an influx of advice seekers and advice givers. Every day there is a new plea on Facebook asking HOW DO I GET MY SON TO NAP or an article posted about how we should definitely not/definitely be vaccinating our children.

Here is the truth: we’re all trying to do what’s best for our kids. It’s why I will never be a co-sleeping or breastfeeding or organic milk crusader. Even though I believe in all those things, isn’t it better to be a mom crusader? An advocate for trying our best? A champion for parents keeping their kids alive and happy on a regular basis?

Every single time I’ve asked another mom for parenting advice, the best responses have always been the same: Parenting is hard. Give yourself grace. You’re doing a great job.

It’s foolproof.

We are, after all, in this together.


On helping.

January 16, 2014


When you have a baby, a strange thing happens. All of a sudden people help you. Long lost relatives, old friends, new neighbors, people you’ve never met on the Internet–they throw together some of their best lasagnas and care packages full of chocolate and just give it to you.

When I had Waylon I was surprised by how much those gestures mattered; how a spare casserole or an encouraging note made all the difference in a day. I was even more surprised by my feelings of helplessness. I wanted my mom. I wanted Austin. I wanted someone with me so I wasn’t alone to handle a new baby, fragile nerves, and anxious bowels by myself.

I was surprised by my weakness. I was surprised by how much I needed help.

Of course there is good help and then the other kind of help who just wants to hold the baby for five hours and ask if you just love being a mommy. But mostly help is wonderful.

Whenever I talk to other mamas about all that help, we always have the same frustration. After you’ve been helped, you just want to help back, pay it forward. You want to find all the new moms you know and bring them magazines and dark chocolate truffles and clean their fridge. You want to share the love.

The problem is when you have a needy infant or an energetic toddler, your help becomes less helpful and more of a hazard. You want to hold the new baby, but your own baby is crying. You want to let your sister take a nap, but it’s your own kid’s naptime. You want to do the dishes, but oops–your toddler is unplanting all the houseplants.

Take it from me, it is impossible to vacuum your new mom friend’s house with a two year old because he will undo all your help faster than you can say “Sorry there is now poop on your carpet.”

Of course there are smaller gestures, and the truth is that most of the time it’s easier for everyone if you just mail a box of diapers and keep your encouragements virtual. But when it’s your sister, your dear friend, or someone who could really, really use an extra real-life hand–not being able to show up is heartbreaking.

My hope is that those of us who don’t have extra hands right now will remember this time later. That when our kids are grown, we will seek out the young and the weary and show up. Because if I’ve learned anything from parenthood it’s that it truly takes a village of humans to raise another human. 

May we remember our villages, our helpers, our love and hope spreaders. May we remember the ones who quietly drop off Miralax and extra binkies and play with our toddlers so we can finally breathe. 

May we accept help with quiet thank yous and the promise to remember the sweet burden of a new mom heart.


When You Are Still A Person

October 14, 2013


Something curious happens when you have a child. All of a sudden when you’re at a dinner party or out to lunch with girlfriends or waiting in line at the post office– you have this inexplicable desire to talk about your kid. It happens without any sort of transition or subtle shift. A baby is born and instantly your brain and body turns to mush and you are left babbling about an eight pound sack of potatoes whose only job is to eat and shit.

At first there is no filter. Everything your baby does is amazing and wonderful and horrifying and must be shared. And then you find yourself discussing the color of their last bowel movement over appetizers and remind yourself to maybe reign it in a bit.

I always swore I’d never be one of those parents who always talks about their kid, but here I am with a whole blog dedicated to it so I guess I can chalk that up to a fail. I do hope that my real life conversations with childless friends are a little less peppered with talk about postpartum poo and two year old antics, but it can be hard to know thyself

The truth is even I get tired of the parenting discussion. I love my kid more than the darkest chocolate truffle, but as a friend recently reminded me: I’m still a person. A person with thoughts on things other than diaper brands and when to start introducing solids. A person who reads books and watches the news and listens to music outside of toddler pandora and old vacation bible school tapes. Sometimes when I’m sitting in a circle of moms talking about sleep schedules, I find myself daydreaming about a time when the main topic of conversation was either food or sex. That was a good time.

I know I’m not the only one who gets tired of baby talk. All of my closest mom friends have just as much desire to still be a person outside of motherhood. It’s more of an obstacle when meeting new people and somehow the mom barrier gets in the way of real conversation. Once someone finds out you’re a parent, it can result in an immediate shutdown or a conversation dumbed down to, “I don’t know how you stay at home all day!”

I have yet to form an appropriate response to this declaration.

Roughly half of my friends have children, but that percentage is quickly growing as we enter our 30s. Of course this is all very exciting. There is something about raising children together that is so wonderful, so bond forming, so incredibly important that it makes me weep on a regular basis. I don’t know what I would do without the community of strong women surrounding me both in the flesh and across the seas. The song doesn’t lie. It really does take a village. 

That said, the mantra that I am still a person rings in my ears every time I’m dismissed or generalized or put in a box labeled “boring” just because I’m home changing diapers. Perhaps it is my own insecurity, but whenever I’m talking to someone who works outside the home, I feel a strange sense of urgency to prove I can do other things. “Look!” I want to shout. “I write things on a computer!”

Last week this post about stay at home moms went viral for reasons I can only assume have something to do with the fact that it’s a man publicly praising his wife for working hard. I mean, I understand the warm fuzzy appeal. I read the article and felt better about myself right away. Who wouldn’t? Praise me!

But then I thought, haven’t we been saying this same thing over and over and over for the past decade? How many times do we need to be validated? How many times do we need to prove we are also a person?

There is no great answer, except to say that if you’re feeling bad about yourself and are not afraid to embrace the occasional pop song–singing along to Katy Perry’s Roar at the top of your lungs really does help you feel like a powerful woman. (Note: if you are 8 months pregnant, it will also make you cry).

Carry on.

You are a champion.


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Rules For Women in 2013

August 1, 2013

London Rain

My girl Anna shared these Girl Code Rules from Elle yesterday. They made me laugh, especially these three:

• Never dine alone with a friend’s boyfriend (unless it’s his last meal and he’s being shot at dawn).

• Never steal your friend’s thunder at a dinner party—when she’s on, give her room! Pound the table! Bang your glass with a spoon! Laugh the loudest at her story!

• Never agree when a friend says she’s flabby, baggy, saggy, lumpy, floppy, veiny, squishy, scrawny, etc., etc. Tell her to shut up. Tell her life is too short. Tell her to eat, drink, and be merry. 

Girl Code is tricky because even though it seems black and white, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you date your friend’s ex even though you know you shouldn’t and sometimes you hold back from liking your friend’s instagram picture because you just can’t take another selfie with the caption: “My hair is so terrible today!” (aka: TELL ME I’M BEAUTIFUL).

E. Jean outlines some great rules when it comes to girl code. I nodded voraciously over each one.

Some humble additions:

  •  If your girlfriend asks if you’d like to go with her to the bathroom, always say yes. She’s not afraid of going alone. She is not being needy or clingy. She just wants to speak to you in private. It is an honor to receive this request. Put down your dinner roll and be grateful. 
  • Do not be one of those women who say, “I just get along better with guys” because it’s a lie. Every girl gets along better with guys. Female relationships take work. Relationships with men do not because you have boobs and they want to go to there.
  • If your girlfriend asks you if she should get bangs, the answer is no.
  • If your girlfriend asks you if you like her new haircut featuring bangs, the answer is yes.
  • If one of your best friends facebooks, tweets, or Instagrams–it is your job to get the ball rolling by publicly affirming her.
  • Do not criticize your girlfriend’s parenting.
  • Do not criticize your girlfriend’s marriage.
  • Do not offer advice unless advice is requested. Even then, keep your words brief and your ears open.
  • Do not let jealousy ruin real relationship.
  • 50% of female communication is affirmation. Embrace it. Yes, you deserve that ice cream. Yes, you knew it was over. Yes, you tried your best at art. The rest of the time it’s just being an honest and tactful human being.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • If there’s been a rift in communication and too much time has passed, it can all be solved with a handwritten letter.
  • Never post vague, passive aggressive statements about girlfriends in a public space. 
  • Be the girl at the bridal/baby showers who is helping. There’s nothing else to do anyway.
  • If your girlfriend has you over for dinner, help clear the dishes. Compliment her decor. 
  • If your girlfriend is pregnant or has a baby, applaud her courage. If you’re not excited, fake it and send flowers.
  • Copy with care.
  • Think carefully before bringing up anything remotely private in front of your girlfriend’s husband/boyfriend/partner. 
  • No matter what, remember this: Women who support other women will always be happier and healthier. 


What are your rules? What’s listed in your girl code?