Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself.

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "List 10 things you wish you could say to strangers who share unsolicited advice about your parenting skills."

Beware, all. Remember, this post is things I wish I could say. So they might be mean. But that's why I don't say them. I also thought it was funny that after I made this list, I realized that a lot of this stuff is centered around Walmart. I guess that's when I get the most unsolicited advice.

  1. "What are you looking at?" Yes, I notice your daggers when I'm walking through the store with a baby, toddler, or child (or all three at once) throwing a temper tantrum. You don't have to say anything, because your old, judgmental eyes say it all. What do you want me to do--beat them? I would, trust me. I'd spank those little bums in public if I knew I wouldn't get reported to child services. So instead, my threats of spanking them "when we get home" will have to do.
  2. "Yes, high fructose corn syrup is bad!" I know you think that because we had it when we were little and we're all still alive that it's okay, but they didn't have the research they did back then. It really is one of the worst things we can ingest into our bodies (and I know because we have done research and know the effects). And I want my kids to be healthy. I know, I'm horrible for letting him miss out on pop-drinking at age two. He just might have to go to a support group for it someday.
  3. "Wait...where's your kids? Oh yeah...YOU DON'T HAVE ANY!" So until you do, please stop acting like you know anything about what it's really like to have and raise a child. I promise you, they're not that easy to control.
  4. "My kids watch TV. So kill me." You say they might end up mindless, ADD children, but I say that my son learned his ABC's from Brainy Baby videos when he was fourteen months old and learned how to count to ten in Spanish from Dora when he was eighteen months old (Though I do loathe Dora). So, no, I don't feel guilty for using the TV as a babysitter when I'm in desperate need to get something done. Like dishes, or showering, or laundry. Or sitting on my back porch with a margarita and a romance novel. Ha!
  5. "No, ma'am, my baby isn't hungry. No, ma'am, I'm not neglecting my child." So maybe only the first sentence applies, but when my baby is crying hysterically and you ask me if he is hungry, isn't that what your saying anyway--that I need your helpful prompt to remember that I have a baby in need of me? Lay. Off. He's tired, sick of being in his car seat all day (because to go anywhere we have about three hours of driving time), and basically cries every time I'm not holding him. So if one more old maid in Walmart asks me if my baby is hungry, I'm going to punch you. Okay, maybe not. I'll probably just smile and shake my head, but know that inside, I want to punch you.
  6. "Don't talk to me until you do your research." Because I promise you, I have. And I know I'm doing what's best for my children. Even if that's different than what's best for yours. Even if that means you think they're disease-infested, germ spreading children because they're on an alternate vaccine schedule.
  7. "Yes, dummy, breast is best." I don't judge anyone for their decision not to breastfeed, and I understand not everyone can--heck, I couldn't breastfeed my first child. So don't tell me I'm not doing what's best by nursing my child. Because, really...your argument sucks. Other than your claim that I need to put myself first and take care of me, and get more sleep at night so I can enjoy my children more during the day, you have nothing to back it up. And I'm sorry I put my baby before me. I'm a mom. I nurture. I nurse. That's what me and my boobs were made for, and that's how I love it. So, lost sleep, sore nipples, and all, I won't stop. And going off of that...
  8. "Since when did you become a lactation consultant?" Yes, I have tried everything, and I mean everything, to nurse my baby (speaking of my first). That includes countless nurses, grandmas, aunts, and three real lactation consultants. And everyone was stumped. I spent hours and countless hours up in the night and meeting with people to try to get my baby to nurse. He hated it, no matter how many tears I spilled and how many prayers I prayed--so I could be the mom I wanted to be. So I didn't feel like a failure. In fact, after six weeks of constant refusal from him, I pumped all day, every day, until he was six months old, just so I could feel like I was doing what was best. So do not tell me that you have the magical solution. Because I guarantee I've heard it and tried it. And no, they will not just give in when they get hungry enough. I promise you. And I will not let my child suffer from malnutrition. Just because your babies were good nursers doesn't mean everyone's baby can be.
  9. "Talk to me when you have a fussy, high-needs baby." Until then, don't even pretend to know what it's like. It's great your children are angels, sleep when, where, and how you want them to, and are happy laying by themselves, but letting my baby "cry it out" isn't going to change a damn thing. No, I did not make him this way by "loving him too much." My kids have been high maintenance since the second they came out of my lady parts. Baby, they were born this way.
  10. "You're right...I am too stupid to realize my child is danger!" Thank you so much for telling me he might fall out of the grocery cart. I don't know what I would do without your eyes. After all, I'm just a mindless breeding machine with a baby wrapped to her chest, a child sitting in the front of the cart, another child in the back, and every other inch of space occupied with groceries. 
Oh wait...I just realized my child is standing because I told him to.  
Because I don't have four arms and can't push two carts to carry all the millions of groceries I buy, and because of those millions of groceries there just isn't enough room for him to sit, and because I live an hour and a half from the nearest Walmart and have to stock up on groceries on the rare occasion I get to go, and because I have to make these long, obnoxious trips to town by myself, and because I don't want my kids to run away from me in the grocery store (I swear, if I did let him out of the cart, he'd be gone in a second)... And because, because, because...
I do what I can. Even if that means one of my children will stand in the back and hold on. 
But what do I know? I'm just a mindless breeding machine.

Whew. Felt good to get that out.

Mama’s Losin’ It


Monk Family said...

Can I tell you how good it felt to read this?! I've had those same looks at Walmart no less-only from employees...male employees. What do they know? But what's worst is that I get it mostly from friends and in laws. All the things I keep inside me that I want to say make me want to burst! In fact I have a friend's blog that I just can't read anymore because her self righteous condescending posts make me want to scream! So, again (like many of your other posts) THANK YOU! You make me feel sane and normal. Geez I wish you lived closer!

Jessica said...

I am not a mother but this was so well written!! I had a good laugh! I love you Jen and I think you are a wonderful mother!!!

~Becky~ said...

Such a wonderful list!

I'm not a mother either, but whenever I say how I plan to raise my kids everyone says, "Oh, you'll change your mind when you have them and act like everyone else."

Jen said...

You go girl!! Walmart brings out all the crazies...I always get unsolicited advice when I go there. If only we could really say those things. My kids watch t.v. too, and play video games, and eat way too many popsicles, the list goes on and on!

Amber said...

AMEN. Can I just copy and paste?

lori said...

Why does everyone love to tell moms what to do? It's maddening. You're so right about doing what's best for your children. We have to make decisions based upon what we feel is right for our families, and there's simply not time to make a personal handbook explaining our parenting choices available and ready to hand out to annoying people. Maybe you should print this out and hand it out at Walmart next time you go. Fun read :)