Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stranger anxiety for moms

If you are pregnant with your first child or are a new mom (and by new mom, I mean "a mom with less than my whopping 13 months of mom experience"), I am about to let you in on a little secret: complete strangers know more about caring for your child than you do.


I have no idea what I'm doing.
It sounds weird, I know, but it's absolutely true. You're the woman who grew the child in her uterus from a microscopic little blob to a full grown baby whose presence caused your stomach to break out in purple stretch marks that faintly resembled a road map of the United States. Since you first saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test, you've likely spent every waking moment (and many sleeping ones) worrying that you weren't doing EXACTLY the right thing for your child and googling a million variations of "can I use hair spray while I'm pregnant?" And of course that worrying only intensified when your baby was brought, wrinkled and crying, into the world. Or perhaps you adopted your child, and before you ever even learned of her existence, you were spending hours researching the very best way to care for her every need so that you would be ready to be the best mommy humanly possible at a moment's notice. You are probably the only person in the world for whom a description of the color of your baby's eyes requires a minimum of three adjectives.* You've spent literally hundreds of hours just staring at your baby (or you will once your baby is born), and just from the pitch and volume of your baby's cry, you can often tell exactly why he is crying in under 30 seconds. But none of that matters. Because complete strangers - people who have never so much as laid eyes on your child until right this second - are the ones who are the experts on what your baby needs.

How do I know? Because they will approach out of the blue you and tell you exactly what you should be doing for a baby that they may mistakenly think is a girl even if he is wearing a onesie that says "Mommy's little man." Or, even worse, they will loudly criticize your parenting within earshot.

Here's an example: Last September, I was taking a walk around our neighborhood with L in the ErgoBaby carrier. It was 64 degrees (I know this because I checked as soon as I got home.) In addition to being pressed up against my torso, L was wearing fleece pajamas, a sweatshirt, and a hat. I had been walking for about five minutes when I passed a 30-something man and a woman who were walking together in the opposite direction. As soon as we had passed each other, the woman said loudly, "It is WAY too cold to have a baby out here!" Imagine how grateful I was to have overheard her! See, up until that point, I thought that the fact that I can tell whether L is cold simply by listening to him breathe** was a sufficient indication of whether or not I was mistreating my child by bringing him out into frigid mid-60's weather, but it turns out that the only one who is capable of determining if my son is warm enough is a woman I've only ever seen that one time who may or may not have children of her own. You'd be a fool to ignore that kind of expertise!

He's freezing.
So here is my advice for new moms: Go to a crowded place. A grocery store or shopping mall will work fine. Then just stand there with your baby. It helps if your baby is only wearing one sock (or better yet, no socks at all.) Before you know it, helpful people will be swarming all over you to tell you what you're doing wrong.

Or you can save yourself the trouble of knowing how very little you know about your own child and remain in blissful ignorance by buying this onesie:




*For the record, L's eyes are a beautiful hazel-y greenish gray, darker toward the outside of his iris and lighter in the middle, with little brown flecks. They're kind of a mix of my eyes and Dan's eyes.
**When he is cold, L will periodically breathe in a quick little gasp. Just so you know. Apparently that's not helpful information, though.


Disclaimer - I am often genuinely appreciative of advice from people I know in real life, even if I don't follow it. Criticism from complete strangers? Not so much.

20 comments:

  1. LOL...logan never wore socks and I had people saying he must be freezing too...we often get "you sure have your hands full" when we go out and wear both the babies...which is confusing since our hands are completely empty ;p

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  2. Hahaha!! People really have a thing about babies not wearing socks.

    Maybe "you sure have your torsos full" just doesn't have the same ring to it. ;)

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  3. It always amazes me how much more strangers know about taking care of my child them myself. And what is up with everyone thinking I'm freezing my child? He sure doesn't FEEL cold.

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    1. I would like to know what people think moms who live in Alaska do. Just never let their child outside, ever, not even once except for maybe in July?

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  4. OMG!! I LOVE this post so much!! haha.. This is the best. Great job! I have an 11 month old and hear it all, all the time. Every stranger could be a better parent then me, apparently! Especially if they were born before the 50's! I'm also your new follower :)

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    1. Thank you!! Yeah, strangers are always perfect parents. Especially the ones with no kids.

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  5. ahahaha! This reminds me of one time my mom was carrying my youngest baby sister, out by herself, and she got scolded for being much too young to have a baby and why wasn't she married. At the time, my Mom was 37, had been married 17 years, and the baby was her 7th child..it's possible she wasn't wearing her wedding ring because she often doesn't. I really don't know how she was mistaken for a teen mom...but even so, that's a really random outburst to get...

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    1. Hahahahahaha!! That is hilarious!!!

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  6. I've added this post to my shout out post this week! :)
    http://babytiley.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/shout-out.html

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  7. Hah! I've felt this way ever since I got pregnant with my first. It's amazing how everyone else thinks they know more about my own offspring than I do!

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  8. LOVE this. I started to give examples of people in my life who give umm, unsolicited advice, but I didn't want to call anyone out. It is enough to say, that I thank people for their care, but we got this.

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  9. Ha ha! I like the recommendation about the no socks. I remember my MIL always giving me advice and while some of it was helpful, it was a bit annoying too! Happy to meet you on your SITS Day and love the onsie!

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  10. Oh my gosh! What is it with strangers and their dumb comments. I was frequently criticized for my kids not wearing socks. Well, I put socks on them and they take them off! If you feel their feet, they are hot. I'm pretty sure they are JUST FINE!!

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  11. It made me crazy when my kids were babies for people to tell me what I should or should not be doing with them! That said, I have been known to suggest to people that perhaps letting their baby (diaper clad only) not crawl on the floor...of a hospital, which I work in. There is very little that grosses me out more than that!

    Happy SITS Day!

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  12. There is so much about stranger advice that irks me - first and foremost it breaks basic etiquette rules: if you weren't asked for the advice or opinion, keep it to yourself! Close friends and family are usually exempted, but sheesh, I can't stand that. I don't recall many people giving me unsolicited advice when kiddo was little, but now that she's older (almost 11), I've found that people talk to me instead of her, even though they're answering a question that she asked, or are asking her a question themselves! So frustrating for both of us, and we're trying to find polite ways to handle it while still pointedly letting HER answer for herself. :)

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  13. People are just crazy. I never cease to be amazed at what strangers think is their business and what they feel entitled to and even compelled to weigh in on. Love the onsies! Happy belated SITS Day!

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  14. What is with people calling our boys girls? The other day we were out and I swear I had that kid dressed up in blue from head to toe, and someone commented about what a cute little girl I had. Come on. And those people would be horrified to know we took our kid to the zoo when it was only 40 degrees outside. They make these new things now, called hats and coats and mittens! You can be outside and not freeze. Amazing.

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  15. Hahahaha! I wish I knew about this product when my kids were still babies! LOL

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  16. i somehow never read this post so yay for your anniversary links!

    i LOVE that onesie.

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