Tag Archives: Friends

On giving parenting advice.

January 22, 2014

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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.

***

When You Are Still A Person

October 14, 2013

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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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