(Some friends of mine have been linking up to "Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday" with Shell. I've been meaning to join in for some time now, but I kept forgetting. Now that I have a little more availability, I hope to do this a little more often.)
(Warning: Curse words and plenty of sarcasm ahead.)
Anyone who knows me well knows that my middle name might as well be, "I Have An Opinion About Everything." There are few situations in which I will keep my mouth shut. If I do hold my tongue, you can bet I'm going to discuss it later. Some people might think I'm tacky or rude, but I don't really care. I am who I am. And, when I can and feel it's appropriate to do so, I'll hand out unsolicited advice like I'm Oprah and it's her Favorite Things Show. Advice and opinions for everyone! YOU get an opinion! And YOU get an opinion! Everyone gets opinioooooooooooooons!!!
Ironically, I get annoyed when people share their unsolicited opinions and advice with me. Like, really, really annoyed. Snarling dog annoyed. Back-the-hell-off annoyed.
When we found out that we were having a baby, there was no way to mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of advice I was about to get. Everyone from my mom to my boss to my coworkers to my friends to ladies at the supermarket gave me advice. And each and every piece of advice was something I SHOULD. BE. DOING. And naturally, each piece of advice I got contradicted the advice someone else had given me the day before. I thought, "Hey! I'll counter this with 'Thank you, but I'm following my doctor's advice.' That will stop 'em!"
Instead, I got really bizarre looks from people, like I'd just said, "Really, there's no problem with heroin, especially when you're pregnant. It's just a recreational drug." And when I repeated myself, some people got even MORE forceful with their advice, as though my OB was mentally retarded and couldn't possibly see me through a healthy pregnancy. "NO, you don't understand Angie. You really need to be blah blah blah wah wah wah...."
It got to the point that by the end of my pregnancy, I didn't even listen to the good advice people passed along because I was so tired of everyone opening their mouth and telling me that they knew better than I did. I damn near bit a woman at work who tried to tell me that oatmeal helped your milk production. She was absolutely correct, but I just could.not.take one more piece of unsolicited advice.
Since becoming a mommy, it's almost gotten worse. I'm starting to think that half of the people I worked with felt I was completely unfit for motherhood and adulthood in general. It's only *mildly* insulting when someone who doesn't know your child tells you why they're crying and what you should do to stop it.
It's obnoxious when anyone--friends or strangers--tells you that your baby isn't dressed properly for the weather.
It's obscene when you're chastised for the parenting decisions you make--like vaccines or circumcision or working or not working--as though you made those decisions with the intention of actually hurting your child.
Because really, I chose to go back to work because I was so tired of being at home. Damn baby. She's so NEEDY. And whiny! God, she can't do anything for herself.
And, we chose to follow a normal course of vaccinations because we like seeing her stabbed with needles. I get a little thrill out of it each time she looks at me with that "OMG WTF WHY DID YOU LET THEM DO THAT TO ME" look on her face.
There is a small group of people in my life which has left me pleasantly surprised. They respect our decisions as parents and seem to understand that what Graham and I choose to do regarding our family is what's best for--gasp--our family. They might not agree with our decisions--I could really give a shit if they don't--but they respect them, and that's what I appreciate.
And then, there's that rather large (to me, but we all know my world view is a little skewed) group that wants to remind me at every possible moment that the parenting and life decisions I've made are BADBADBADBADBAD.
We cloth diaper (mostly), and that's bad because it's so much laundry. But we also use disposable diapers at night and on the road, so we clearly don't care about our environment.
I waited six months to start Hannah on solids because she wasn't ready, so I'm either selfish (because she relied solely on me for her nutrition) or ridiculous because WHY wouldn't I feed her solids the minute she could steady herself in a high chair? Or, because the calendar told me she was four or five months old, I should have started solids RIGHT THEN AND THERE because I could. The only hold up is me.
Hannah sleeps in her room in her crib. We must not care about her well being because she's sooooooo far away from us. And obviously, I'm a selfish mom because co-sleeping is the best possible arrangement for our family.
I'm a working mom, so we're either too poor for me to stay home or I don't care about her enough to stay at home with my baby. And when I leave work early to go home to her, I'm sending a message that I don't care enough about my job to stay late. Naturally, when I stay late it means I'd rather be at work than at home with my daughter.
And, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I could go on, because every decision I've made has Hannah's mom has been/will be put under a microscope. But, I won't. Why? It won't solve anything.
To everyone who thinks that the decisions we've made are the wrong ones, I say this: Fuck you.
I love my daughter. She means the world to me. Sure, sometimes I make the wrong decision. I've never been a parent before and unfortunately for her, Hannah's the test dummy. I'm the oldest too, so I get that. Doesn't mean I'm happy about it.
But I would never, ever, EVER make a decision about her based on me and my selfishness. I would never make a decision about her care because it made my life easier. I would never make a decision about her that could put her in danger or make her sick.
When I ask for advice, it means I want it. I don't call her doctor's office just to say, "Hey, what's up, yo!" I call and say, "She has a cough, and it sounds like this. Want me to bring her in? If not, what should I do?"
We waited to start solids because she wasn't ready at 4 months and she wasn't ready at 5 months. We moved her to her crib upstairs because we wanted our bedroom back, yes, but because she wasn't waking up 75 times a night. She was ready. I went back to work because I--whoa!--like working. I just didn't like my job. My working means I'm making money. Making money means we can give her more, whether it's clothes or opportunities or an education or a friggin' pony. We chose to follow a regular course of vaccinations because hey! I really liked not having polio. I figure that's something Hannah will come to appreciate too.
When she's crying and looking around for me, she's either overwhelmed or hungry. And when I say she's hungry, I mean it. Holding a crying baby and telling me that "she just ate and couldn't possibly be hungry" isn't helping, it's just pissing off my baby.
What I find truly insulting, though, is when someone tells me what she needs. I have known her from the very beginning--before she could open her eyes in utero--so who the fuck are you to tell me what my kid is crying about and when she needs to be fed and when she's old enough to do A, B, and C? I'm her mommy. You damn well know that I know what she needs.
Bottom line: everyone needs to back off. When I want your advice, I'll ask for it.