“I wouldn’t be letting him fall asleep with a soother if I were you. That creates bad habits.”
“You should give her a soother so he’ll sleep better. It’s the only way my baby slept well.”
“Have you had this (fill in the blank) checked out?”
“Why isn’t your baby eating solids yet?”
“You shouldn’t let your baby sleep in a swing, it’s a bad habit to break.”
“My baby was already doing (fill in the blank) by her age.”
“Well I have raised a few children myself, I think I know a thing or two.”
“My baby NEVER slept through the night until they were 2 or 3.”
“Boys are never potty trained before the age of 3 so good luck with that.”
“My baby was sleeping through the night by 2 months old.”
“She probably has (fill in the blank) because that’s what my baby looks like when they’re sick. You should get antibiotics for that.”
“Why does your baby’s skin look like that?”
As a new mama, I’ve had my fair share of un-wanted advice, criticism and comparison. I think most of mamas can attest to this, even if it’s not their first time around the block.
Before I became a mom, I’d already seen the mommy wars. The nasty debates over vaccinations and circumcision. The conversations of how breast is best, etc. The criticism over what kind of birth a woman chose to have. I found it all to be so confusing. But once my son was born, I was too deep into Postpartum Anxiety to be affected by any of it for some time. And I was fortunate to have a few mom friends who, though we may be different in our some of our approach to motherhood, were a resource for me. I knew I could text them if I had questions or wanted suggestions. I think the key in all this is that when a mama wants advice, she will ask for it. That has always been my thought process with advice in general.
So how does one handle unwanted advice, criticism and comparison or prying questions? Let’s get real for a moment: when someone gives unwanted advice, criticism, comparison or questions what we do, it cuts to the core of who we are as mamas. It makes us feel incompetent and then we get defensive. Things can get out of control REAL fast.
I’ll be honest-I’ve had full on arguments with people in my head. But one thing I am learning to do is be open-minded and HAVE GRACE. It’s so hard, mamas. It’s so hard. I would say that my general response these days is to acknowledge what the person is saying and keep my reply simple. “Thanks. I we are doing ok right now. It’s great that babies are all so different and we as mamas have great instincts as to what they need, isn’t it?” If it’s something that I’m stumped as to how to reply, I just say, “Ok. Thanks.”
Babies really are SO different. When they will reach certain milestones and do specific things developmentally is unique to each baby. That is probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a mama. I also can’t force my baby to teeth or crawl or eat solid foods when and how I want him to. He’s not a robot. Realizing these things has helped me sit back and relax a little bit, as a mama. It also gives me great perspective when it comes to comparison. Comparison really is the thief of joy. I could get so lost in what I think my son should be doing and really miss out on the joy of who he is right now. At the end of the day, none of these things really matter in light of everything else.
Motherhood is difficult enough as it is. We need each other to champion through the tough days. The last thing we need is to fight about circumcision and organic baby food or be offended by silly questions, am I right? Honestly, God is dealing with me in my own heart, about attitudes and assumptions that I carry. When I look back on the last 8 months of my postpartum journey, He has carried me through the darkest times. Sometimes when we encounter people, they are speaking from pain and hurt they carry from difficult experiences they’ve been through. I know I have been there. We just never know where other people have been.
Mama, you are doing so good. Mama, you are doing amazing. You know what that baby needs. You love them so much. You want the best. This journey can be such a difficult one. But you’ll make it.
One. Day. At.A.Time
How have you handled criticism or unwanted advice in your journey as a mama? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!