Q. Jordan! I find myself going through your ‘baby’ posts lately (all of them). I can’t find common ground or relate to any other mom bloggers (idk, everyone gives me that I AM SO ENTITLED AND MY BEBE RULES vibe).
We just found out that we’re pregnant and due this February…I already feel like I suck at pregnancy and everything that comes along with it. The classes seem overwhelming, the hormonal changes piss me off, and I’m already being hounded by both sides of the family about considering having a Christening for this future kid because otherwise it will obviously go to hell.
I’m already so very insecure about this whole baby thing and getting more so the more unsolicited opinions and advice I get from friends and family. How does one politely tell people to back off, just a little?
A. Let me tell you a story:
My son’s favorite thing lately is to “pull up”: basically, he wants to stand everywhere, all of the time, and there is no keeping the kid down. This is usually fine, except for when he decides that he absolutely must stand in a totally unsafe place or moment.
Now. Since our bathroom is so small, we have to stick the baby bathtub in the hallway in order to fill it/give him a bath, and so the other day we were mid-shampoo when he decided to give his new favorite thing a spin, which is obviously not ideal.
I was trying to wrestle him back down into the bathtub so I could rinse him off…and my hands slipped on his soapy little body. And he went flying out of the bathtub, and literally shot down the hallway on his tummy like he was on a slip n’ slide…right down to the end, where he bumped his head on the doorframe. (He was fine. Just extremely stunned. It was me who cried.)
The point of this: Everyone feels like they suck at pregnancy/motherhood sometimes. Everyone does things “wrong.” But that does not mean that you are a bad parent (doing something “bad” does not mean that you are “bad”).
It’s easy to feel that way, though…especially because a simple fact of pregnancy and motherhood is that everyone from your aunt in Alaska to your friend’s brother-in-law’s kindergarten teacher to total strangers on the street think that it’s A-OK to tell you all the ways that you’re screwing up. I can’t tell you how many times people have stopped me to lecture me about one thing or another (the other day, I was stopped by one woman who announced to me that my son was clearly too hot in his outfit…and five minutes later, another person told me that I really needed to keep more layers on him so that he wouldn’t catch a chill. Seriously).
Everyone does things that they worry about or question…and it would be so awesome if we knew that everyone else feels just as we do, what with all the wondering and worrying, but it’s easy to feel very all alone in this feeling. Because judgment is everywhere, and it is loud, and it can be very scary to admit that you sometimes feel like you’re not completely perfect at the one job in the world that you want to be perfect at more than any other. And so it’s easier to just highlight the good and gloss over the bad (I suspect this is what you’re seeing on the mommy blogs you’ve been checking out).
But trust me: even those friends of yours who seem like they have it all together and were born to be parents…they have these moments, too. Lots of them.
Now, go read this blog post, quick. What it’s about: in a few months, you will discover that is impossible for you to leave the house without having people stop you on the street and announce to you that this time goes so! fast!, and you have to cherish! every! minute!.
And this will make you feel terrible, and panicked (what if I’m not appreciating this enough?!), and I’m telling you right now that there are wonderful times and hard times ahead, and that it’s OK if you don’t walk around in a constant state of moment-cherishing. Having the occasional day that doesn’t deserve a ticker-tape parade of joy (or that – gasp! – you wish you could just forget) is fine, and normal, and does not make you any less of a parent. Don’t stress about it.
Finally, here’s something that my mother-in-law said a few weeks ago that meant the world to me: I was telling her all the things I worried about, wondering whether I was doing OK and whether my son was happy, and she said, “Look: the one thing that a child needs more than anything in the world is to see his parents’ faces light up when they look at him. And you’ve got that part down.”
Everyone has different ideas about how to parent, and everyone has different ideas about what’s “good” and “bad” for their children…but when it comes down to it, what your child needs is to see your face light up when you look at him.
And I promise you: yours will.
(And as time goes on, all those people giving you “tips”? They’ll start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher (wah wah wahhhh). You’ll see.)