It seems that whether we ask for it or not, moms are subjected to advice from well-meaning third parties, hoping to impart their knowledge and be congratulated on their own parenting prowess. The problem is, half the time, those dropping their so-called expert advice don’t even have children of their own. Ironically, this doesn’t stop them from feeling superior. In fact, it can often mean they are completely assured of their own expertise because they don’t have any of that pesky “real life experience” to get in the way of their theoretical knowledge.
Then, you have the women (and men) who have been parents for exactly three minutes, who can’t understand why the women who have been in the trenches for years and have multiple children complain all the time. After all, they are 100% dedicated to their new baby, and they are certain that after a rough first two weeks, they now have a perfect schedule of feeding, changing and napping down to a science. These other women are just lazy. New mom showers daily, keeps a clean house and spends every moment anticipating baby’s potential needs. How much harder could it get? Everyone knows that newborns are way harder to manage than older children.
And then there are the veteran mommies. The ones who have seen it all, done it all and have the battle scars to prove it. They are the ones you see carrying a toddler on their shoulders, a baby in a sling and pushing a double stroller while opening a juice box with their left foot and breast feeding at the same time. They can’t be fazed. Despite their own brood, they are the first to step in and help with they see a mom at the park trying to chase her toddler down while carrying her baby. They are the ones who give sympathetic smiles to other moms in the supermarket. They are the ones who make comments like, “Enjoy it while you can… they grow so fast.” In short, they are the ones who hide behind their experience and use it as a way of judging new parents for their naivete.
Finally, we have the unicorns of the parenting world. These are the moms who keep their mouths shut unless specifically asked for advice. And even then, they usually offer up support rather than actual advice. They will tell you that whatever choice you make, you aren’t going to screw up your kid. You’ll be fine. Just do your best, and if you need some help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. When pushed, they will tell you what worked for them, but they will also remind you that every situation/child/parent is different and that it’s okay to do your own thing.
Here’s a very typical online conversation when one mom asks for advice.
<NewMom2017>: Hey ladies. I’m going through ZYX specific situation with my baby, and I’d really like to know what worked for you guys if you went through it.
<ChildlessByChoice4Eva>: Well, I don’t have children of my own, but I have studied early childhood development, and I think you need to step back and read ABC book and realize that you are going to ruin your child if you don’t change your ways. You’re being way too lenient.
<VeteranMom2002>: When my first was that age, we just had to grit our teeth and let him deal with it on his own. You can’t rescue him all the time. He’ll grow up to be a sissy.
<Meant2BaMomma>: Why are you even online? You should be spending every second with that precious little baby. Why have kids if you are going to ignore them?
<NoBabies4Me>: I have six dogs, and let me tell you, it is way harder than one baby. I have been through your exact situation, and the only thing that worked was letting them have their beef sticks every three hours. Do you have some jerky somewhere your baby could chew on?
<DrMom101>: NEVER GIVE A BABY JERKY! THEY WILL CHOKE AND DIE!
<Moderator>: Remember, ladies, this is a forum, and we are not medical professionals. If the OP has a question, she should take it to a professional, and the rest of us should refrain from offering medical advice.
<NewMom2017>: Uh, thanks ladies. Mod – I’m not asking medical advice… just some friendly real-life experience. And um… I don’t think my 6 month old should have beef jerky, but I appreciate the suggestion…..
<GrandmaMeddle>: In my day, we gave babies jerky, and they grew up fine. That and a bit of whiskey in their bottles to help them sleep. Sleep solves everything. Just put them down on their tummies and cover them with a few blankets, and the whiskey will do the rest.
<Mom4Lyfe>: @NewMom2017 – I have five boys. PM me and I’ll tell you what worked for us. I don’t want to post it here because I don’t need to be mommy-shamed.
<CatMom2517>: Some people really shouldn’t be parents. Have you not read What to Expect? Everything you need to know is covered there. I may not have children of my own, but even *I* know that lslekakdkeedasdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
<CatMom2517>: Sorry. Cat walked across my keyboard. The point is that you should have done your research BEFORE you became a mother!
<VeteranMom2002>: Seriously @NewMom2017, just ignore it. He’ll figure it out on his own. Stop coddling him.
<BabyWhisperer>: Is he circumsized? Because that can affect behavior, and it can cause major issues down the line if you haven’t had him snipped.
<MomsTheBoss22>: Ugh, circumcision is CHILD ABUSE. I hope you haven’t had it done, NewMom.
<Mom4Lyfe>: I have had all five of my boys circumcised. Are you calling me a child abuser??
<MomsTheBoss22>: You cut off a part of their body without their consent! What would YOU call it? It’s not like piercing their ears where it’s cute and to help people know their gender. It’s gross!
<Mom4Lyfe>: You PUT A HOLE IN YOUR CHILD’S EARS JUST FOR YOUR OWN SICK PLEASURE?? Who’s the child abuser NOW?!
<Moderator>: We’re getting off topic ladies. Let’s leave the debate here.
<NoBabies4Me>: NewMom, I have been researching your problem, and I think that you need to put your baby on a gluten free diet and switch to goat milk instead of formula. Also, daily kinesiology will help. I switched my dogs to a grain-free diet, and it completely changed their personalities. They are so docile and happy now.
<ChildlessByChoice4Eva>: Based on my casual observations of other people’s parenting and kids, here is a long list of everything you will need to do and change. If you don’t, your child will be damaged, and the entire world will know it is your fault.
<CrunchyGranolaMom>: Please tell me you haven’t vaccinated him. This sounds just like my cousin’s nephew’s daughter after they vaccinated her. It was tragic. She was never the same. #NoVaxNoProblems
<FriendOfNewMom2017>: Oh, @NewMom2017, it’s me, your childless friend, Brenda. I totally agree with everything @ChildlessByChoice4Eva said, but let me add more to the list, because clearly that is not nearly enough. Also, remember that totally private thing you told me about your child? Let me post it here so everyone else can see it, too, because it may help them to understand your situation better. HTH!
<SanctiMommy247>: Why are you worried? Your baby is so little. Just enjoy your time with him. He will be all grown up before you know it. Maybe you need to take a little time out and speak with a professional, as I think you are way overthinking this. Motherhood is so natural, and you are making it so hard. Just relax.
<NewStepDadof5YO>: My new girlfriend has a five year old daughter, and she was STILL SUCKING ON A PACIFIER when I met her. I put a stop to it immediately. Sometimes you just need a strong male in the child’s life. I’m assuming you’re a single mom.
<CrunchyGranolaMom>: Pacifiers are perfectly acceptable. All babies should be encouraged to do what they think is best. My seven year old still breastfeeds, and it is beautiful. If I can’t feed her in that moment, I am perfectly happy if she latches onto a pacifier. #NoJudgement #BreastIsBest
<WishIHadABaby>: How can you even think about complaining? Some of us would do anything for a baby, and all you can do is whine about it! Think about what you’re putting us through. Why don’t you think about your words before posting on here?
<ParanoidMama44>: I think your baby is sick. Take him to the doctor IMMEDIATELY.
<BeenThereDoneThat95>: He probably just needs to poop. Stick a Q-Tip up his bum, and he’ll be right as rain.
<MeTooMama>: OMG, my son is going through this right now! Following!
If this type of conversation looks all too familiar, it’s because you’ve probably been on the receiving end at some point. Or maybe you are one of the responders. Let’s face it, we can’t all be Unicorn Moms who don’t judge and know how to keep comments to ourselves. But let’s all try to remember that we’re all doing our best and figuring out parenthood as we go.
Whether you’re in your first days of motherhood or you’re an old hand at it, try to remember that even the professionals can’t agree on absolute standards of care. If you’re not sure about something, call your pediatrician. They’ve heard it all and can help you decide on a course of action. If you have friends or family you trust, ask them for input. But at the end of the day, the decisions you make should be YOURS. And if you make the “wrong” one, understand that we have all done the same.
When it comes right down to it, if you’re worried about being a good mom, it probably means you are one. Keep going, mama. You got this.