I know I'm not a perfect parent.
And I know that I could learn a lot from other mommies.
But sometimes I find it so difficult to just smile and nod when yet another mother or nanny gives me unsolicited advice.
It always comes about the same way.
First, she asks The question, "How old is he?"
I respond, "13 months."
They seem surprised. "Really? But he's so small. He only looks (insert number less than 10) months. And he still isn't walking?"
Even though I've had this conversation several times, it always hurts like a knife to my chest. Everyone seems to operate under the assumption that a healthy baby is big and walks around by himself.
And then the ladies always continue with those two dreadful words, "You should..."
I'm beginning to dislike those two words. Yes, their advice comes from a good place, but sometimes I just don't want to hear it. They don't know me and they don't know my child.
They don't know how we battled terrible eczema during his first year of life. They don't know about all the allergy testing and sleepless nights that we went through. They don't know how we once had to change his bed crib sheets every night because he would scratch and rub until his face and head bled. They don't know that we're doing our best to live and eat normally given (what seems like) our every-growing list of allergens: wheat, soy, barley, nuts, and bass.
I'm crying as I'm writing this, because it's just so frustrating. Yes, I am a new mommy. Yes, I have lots to learn. Yes, I'm making lots of mistakes along the way. But I'm sorry, sometimes I just don't want to hear your advice, well meaning or not.
Maybe my kid is small. Maybe he should eat more. Maybe I shouldn't carry him so much. But you know what? Please just back off. I'm already berating myself enough. I'm just doing the best that I can.
And lately when I've been getting like this, I always try to think back to all the parenting tips and stories that I do appreciate hearing. You know which ones I'm talking about. They're the ones that make me laugh and remind me that all parents make mistakes, kids do crazy-funny-scary things, and we're all just trying to love our kids the best that we can.
Here's what one mommy confessed to me at the park the other day:
And you know what?
Her little girl looked just fine to me.
Thank you, cat food girl's mommy, for reminding me that things will be ok.