Thank You, Stranger
Being a parent is tough. You hold this little kid in your arms having (literally) no idea what you should really do. This bewildered feeling, in my experience, has not gone away for the last eleven months of motherhood–new day, new huge question mark in the air following me around.
And you know what is mega helpful to me, as a loving and concerned parent?
When you, dearest stranger/family member/anyone other than my husband, tell me how to parent.
You have no idea how much of a relief it is to have you approach me and yell in my face: “SHOULDN’T THAT BABY BE WEARING A HAT?” It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and wonderful inside, knowing that you trust that I love my baby (who I carried for 40 weeks in my uterus, pushed out of me, and have spent every moment of her life with) more than you do.
Haha, just kidding. Don’t test me right now. Don’t tell me to put a hat, a coat, a blanket, or a diaper on my baby, or my baby will be completely naked for the next year (or five years) of her life. Rolling around in the snow, eating the yellow snow actually, completely naked.
Back to the whole “being a parent is tough” bit. Man, I’m not kidding. Every mistake you make as a parent causes brain damage, according to google. There is no way to raise a little human without inflicting some serious amount of brain damage.
You let your kid cry? BRAIN DAMAGE.
You pick your kid up when crying? BRAIN DAMAGE.
You use a bottle instead of a sippy cup, OR a sippy cup instead of a bottle? BRAIN DAMAGE.
You feed your kid solids too early, too late, you use the wrong color car seat cover? BRAIN DAMAGE.
All of these things can be stressful if you let them get to you. Brain damage seems like a steep cost for getting the wrong car seat cover, but don’t risk it.
All of this aside, I can also confidently and without reserve say that the WORST part of parenting is the unsolicited advice. It is hilarious. It is as if every human in the world suddenly gets a say in how to best raise my kid. Which totally makes sense, seeing as they are all the one awake with her all night/changing diapers all day/etc etc…
I put together a little list, so you can know if you are an unsolicited advice-giver to young parents. If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, seek help, or just stop offering unsolicited advice.
A. Do you or have you ever started a sentence with the words “you should” to a young parent?
B. Do you or have you ever reacted negatively, (including body language such as eye rolling, shoulder shrugging, etc…) when a young parent does anything?
C. Do you or have you ever said the words “When I was young parent” in a condescending tone without being asked to speak that sentence?
D. Do you or have you ever approached anyone in Target, Walmart, or Home Depot to offer helpful ideas on how to raise a child, including but not limited to how to best feed, comfort, clothe or love their child?
You want to be helpful? Thank you. Go buy me diapers, or a cute outfit for my baby, or better yet, go get me some caffeine.