So, just stop.
Here are the top five things that do not qualify you to tell me how to raise my kid:
1. You Have a dog. I realize that you love little Fido or Lulu as if they were your own. Don’t get me wrong, as a pet owner myself; I get the attachment that one has to their dog. I also, get that you did not push said dog out of your vagina while screaming in pain. Nor did you get up every four hours to have a small pint- size piranha suck at your breast, or wonder when you would be able to shower again.
I know dogs are a tremendous responsibility. You know what else is a tremendous responsibility.. keeping a human life alive. So, the next time your friend with kids seems bleary eyed and slightly mental because they are spending the better part of the day covered in puke and poop, try to refrain from saying, “I know just what you are going through… last night little Fido was up four times with an upset stomach.” Guess what? It’s not the same.
2. You were once a nanny. I have a confession to make- I am slightly guilty of this one as well. Before having my own kids, I worked as a nanny for 12 years. I probably have changed more poopy diapers in my life than most parents have. So, when I got pregnant myself, I thought “Piece of Cake.” I pictured myself seamlessly negotiating the rivers of motherhood with grace and ease. WRONG!
Being a nanny to someone else kids in no way prepares you for the up and downs of motherhood. Sure, you know how to change a diaper while chasing one kid down the hall and holding the other one in your arms. But, at the end of the day, you can take a deep breath, and hand off little Susie or Johnny to the nearest parental unit and race back to your apartment for a glass of wine and a pint of Hagen Daz. When that kid is your own, there is no punch out clock or down time waiting for you at the end of the day. You spend your “Free time” looking at the monitor wondering how long you have to get one of three things done: 1. Shower, 2. Sleep or 3. Have sex with your husband. I can tell you that Sleep wins out about 99.9% of the time. So, the next time you think you are the reincarnation of Mary Poppins and that entitles you to tell me how to raise my kid, keep it to yourself unless asked. Until you know the feeling of holding that human life in your hands and knowing that you did that… you will never truly get it. That being said, I will take free babysitting anytime you choose to offer it.
3. You were the oldest sibling of a family of 12 and, therefore, “practically raised” your younger siblings. Look, when you tell me that your mom had 8 kids, two thoughts pop into my head: 1. “Why God Why?” and 2. “God Bless that woman, Give her and her vagina a medal.” However, just because your mother decided to give birth to her own basketball team, this does not qualify you (As the captain of the team) to give me mothering advice. As any mother can tell you, being a kick-ass brother or sister is way different from being a mother. Just like being a kick-ass Dad is way different from being a MOM.
For one, you weren’t in labor for twelve hours and then pushed for four all the while using language that would make a sailor blush. That’s not to say that being an awesome, cool, someone to look up to, big brother or sister is not a noble profession. Don’t grow up too fast. Lead by example. Be a good role model to your siblings and show them that wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from living. Laugh with them. Play with them. Be there for them despite how dorky, annoying or crazy they may be. Your parents will always be your parents. But your siblings can be so much more – they can also be your friends. Don’t short-change that. Also, come and find me when you have kids of your own and we can laugh about how wrong you were.
4. You read a book, saw a movie, got a paper published, took a course or had a vision about parenting and just had to “share.” I am all about bettering yourself through self improvement. However, unless you have the preface “Dr.” before your name and I have paid you money for your opinion, keep it to yourself. A “concerned” friend came to me recently with a study that showed how detrimental t.v. time is to the frontal lobes of a developing toddler. Look, I get it. T.V=Bad. However, if I need my two year old to watch twenty minutes of Baby First or Sesame Street, I think he will live. It’s not like he is watching The Exorcist. There is always going to be some article, study or expert that tells us as mothers that what we are doing is wrong and someone is doing it better.
The truth is if we adhered to every article or study out there, our kids would live in a bubble. Not to mention we would be curled up in a padded room somewhere in a fetal position. Look, thank God, for the Internet. It is a valuable resource. However, sometimes as Mommies, you have to go with your gut. Sometimes, you’ll be wrong. Sometime you will feel like super Mom. Either way, get off your phone, turn off the computer and give yourself a break. We are all just trying to do the best job we can.
5. You have a kid of your own. I know, I know… I can hear the mommy sphere exploding as a write this. When I first became a mom, I sought help from Mommies everywhere. As Moms, we need help sometimes. Very often I think part of our problem is that we don’t ask for help enough. So, yes, I will ask for help and advice as I need it. Here’s what I don’t need… If I’m bleary eye and complaining about how my son won’t sleep through the night, don’t turn your nose up at me and tell me that your little angel never had that problem. Don’t tell me that all you did was X, Y and Z and the problem was fixed.
Guess what, it’s probably highly likely that we tried that approach. We’ve probably tried every approach. All to no avail. It is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about parenting. Every child is different. I’ll make a deal with you. You don’t rub it in my face that your kid was sleeping though the night at 3 months and I won’t rub it in your face that my kid knew his alphabet by one and yours still isn’t talking. Why? Because 1. It’s mean and 2. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. Children are unique, special and all develop at their own speed.
So, let’s all agree to spend less time policing other people’s parenting and more time focusing on the wonderful, exquisite lives that we are responsible for. I can guarantee that watching your child grow, develop and turn into a little person is one of the greatest gifts life can give you. So, treasure it.