(Wanted and Unwanted Opinions & Advice)
I am the first one to admit – I am a first time mom and feel completely clueless on what to do with the baby once he gets here. Social media has been a wonderful tool to reach out and ask opinions from experienced mamas – I’ve totally leveraged the Iowa City Moms Blog Facebook page as well as own my to gain insight on a few baby-related things. The advice I have solicited from others has been like gold. Nothing can beat the advice from someone who has been there, done that.
And then…there is all that unsolicited “advice”. The advice that comes from out of the blue with no warning, at inappropriate times.
From those I love. Those I would consider an acquaintance. And also complete strangers.
My husband and I were in a department store a few weeks ago looking at window coverings. The lady helping us asked when I was due and I told her August. She pondered that for a moment and then matter-of-factly stated “My biggest piece of advice is to relax. If you don’t relax, the baby won’t come out.” I decided at that very moment, we would not be buying anything from her. Not because it wasn’t good advice, I am sure it’s great advice. But this was a stranger. Who knew nothing about me. And was offering pretty personal advice. That I did not ask for. And because at that particular moment, I was really hot (because it was quite stuffy in there), I was hungry (it was like 6 pm and I hadn’t eaten since 3 pm) and I was tired (again, it was 6 pm).
Then there are those who have opinions on subjects that really shouldn’t be discussed because they’re so personal. Like whether or not we plan to circumcise our son. (Yes, I have had more than a couple of people strike up a conversation with me about this subject.)And the opinions on breast feeding, cloth diapering, the height of our kitchen table, the type of flooring in our house and sleep schedules. (OK, the height of our kitchen table and flooring choices are not that personal, but opinions have been offered up on both subjects. And I spent a lot of time picking out both our flooring and our table, so I don’t want to hear that you think it’s a bad choice.) Sometimes people can be downright mean with their opinions, complete with eye-rolling and sneers when they find out your stance does not match their own and that look of “Your kid is screwed”.
I’ve even gotten parenting advice from my dear old dad, who is bound and determined to turn my son into a Yankees fan. To be clear, I am a Cubs fan and there will be NO Yankee garbage in my house. My dad is a man of very few opinions, except when it comes to baseball.
On top of the advice are the comments. I told my mom the other day that I was going to start trying to hide my pregnancy when I go out in public anymore. (At 31 weeks, this would be next to impossible.) This was after my husband and I had been to every furniture store in town trying to find a glider and every sales person had something to say about my belly. It was to the point even my husband was getting annoyed with it and told me he didn’t know how I dealt with it. Here is how the conversation went between myself and a saleslady at a furniture store that shall remain nameless:
Saleslady “When are you due?”
Saleslady “Oh, you still have a long time.” (One of my most hated comments. Second only to “Oh, God. You’re due in August!? You’ll be miserable the whole summer!)
Me “Well, only 11 more weeks, it will go by fast!”
Saleslady “No it won’t. Those last two months are hell. Trust me.”
Uh – OK. Thanks.
I think – no, I know – for the most part all of this advice comes from a good place (except for the unsolicited comments that serve no value.) By human nature, we want to help one another. Women for the most part do this by trying to relate to one another through our own experiences. I try, very hard, to remember this. But when you’re 31+ weeks pregnant and most likely uncomfortable and quite possibly tired (because when aren’t you tired when you’re pregnant), it can be harder to act gracious when such advice is doled out. I think it’s easier with people I am closest to because they can read my non-verbal cues and know when I’ve had enough. I am also more comfortable telling those people when I’ve had enough.
I know I am very guilty of offering unsolicited advice. I try to watch myself and try to take the stance of listener and only offer advice when it seems appropriate. But I am a woman and I relate by sharing my experiences.
I know this is only the beginning. I know when the baby is here, people will be coming out of the woodwork, advising me on every aspect of parenting. For me, the smile and nod (and then vent to my husband) method has worked so far. Also trying very hard to keep in mind, the advice comes with only good intentions.
So let me ask you – what is some of the weirdest advice you’ve received as a mother? Also, how do you handle the advice when you’ve had just about enough?