New Year, new post series. I didn’t set out to have a new post series, it just happened. Yesterday evening while mucking out the stalls AKA checking my GROUCHYMUFFIN inbox, I received a submission that was too wonderful not to share with the interwebs.
Those of you with kids, read the following as if it were a textbook.
Those of you sans kiddos (AKA people who get uninterrupted sleep,) read and thank your lucky stars there’s a whole level of insanity you get to bypass.
I now present the first in an ongoing, as needed basis: THINGS I WISH I WROTE!
New Year’s Resolution
Being a parent is stressing me out lately. And it’s not my kid that’s doing it. It’s not his temper tantrums or refusal to eat anything that’s not an m&m. It’s not chasing after him when he runs away from me in public or when he screams “no” at me as he swings for my face.
He’s a kid. He’s almost two. Half the time he’s sweet and wonderful, and the other half he’s a total inconsiderate, selfish a**hole. That’s the way it is and it doesn’t bother me because I realize he’s a kid and sometimes he’s going to act like a jerk whether or not I’m a good parent. He’s a kid. It’s what they do. I don’t like it wears me out and makes me reconsider (almost by the minute) if I’m doing the best I can, but it’s not what stresses me out. I mean, it’s embarrassing as hell to be at a party or in some public place where everyone else’s child is being a rosy-cheeked angel and yours is acting like the spawn of Satan- but I know it’s going to happen. (BTW- it would be really nice if when your child is acting like the saint to give a reassuring smile to the parent of the satan child, because one day the tides are gonna turn. I don’t care who you are, how much you love your child, how much time you’ve spent making them homemade baby food and wiping their ass with organic baby wipes- your kid is going to be satan one day and all the other mothers are going to give you looks of judgement, and then you’ll know.)
No, no it’s none of those things that are bringing me to the brink of insanity. Unsolicited advice is what’s doing it. I can’t take another, single, solitary piece of unsolicited advice. I will puke. I will run and I will throw my own version of a two-year-old temper tantrum if I have to listen to more helpful advice and suggestions that I do not ask for.
Over the past two+ years of pregnancy and parenthood, I have come to the conclusion that people absolutely do not think they do this. No one thinks they offer unsolicited, and often very unwanted, advice. It cannot be possible that people are aware they’re doing it because it happens so frequently and in such sweetly offered formats that people must really, truly believe they are just being helpful. I must be doing it too. It makes me cringe to say it, but I must be. Hell, I just might be the worst offender.
This is what leads to me to my New Year’s Resolution. I am going to try my absolute hardest to stop giving unsolicited advice. I am going to listen to myself when I’m speaking, and try to avoid giving some of the helpful words of wisdom I’ve been hearing so much of lately.
For instance, when someone’s child is being a brat, I will not suggest the following:
“Maybe he’s hungry.”
“Maybe he’s thirsty.”
“Maybe he’s tired. Did he go to bed late?”
“Maybe he woke up too early.”
“Maybe his tummy is upset.”
“Maybe he’s teething.”
“Do you think he has a wet diaper?”
“He touched his ear. I bet he has an ear infection.”
“Maybe he has gas.”
I won’t be making those suggestions because, maybe that child’s parents already have a pretty damn good idea of what’s going on, thank you.
When someone else’s child is refusing to eat, I’m going to assume they’re just not hungry rather than offer these pearls of wisdom:
“Maybe the meat is too hard to chew.”
“Maybe he would rather have some goldfish.”
“Maybe if you put a little cheese on it he’d eat it.”
“Why don’t you give him some ranch?”
“Does he want me to hold him while he’s eating?”
“Maybe it’s too spicy.”
“Should I make him something else?”
“Why isn’t he using his spoon?” to child: “Use your spoon!” “Eat your food!”
I will no longer ask a parent how old their toddler is, and then lovingly let them know the following:
“My child was walking at 9 months.”
“All my children were potty trained at 18 months.”
“Your child is two? Oh. Three’s worse.”
“My child’s vocabulary is so diverse because I read to my child everyday.”
“We never watch TV in our house.”
“Are you afraid he’s going to choke on those toys with small pieces?”
“Isn’t he getting too old for a pacifier?”
And certainly, when I encounter a pregnant woman, I will not make any of the following comments:
“It’s going to be so hard to have a two year old and a baby!”
“Sleep as much as you can now! In a few months you’ll never sleep again!”
“I only gained 15 pounds when I was pregnant.”
“When I went to the hospital to deliver my baby, they couldn’t even tell I was pregnant!”
“Have you considered exercise?”
“Is it a good idea to eat so much sugar?”
“You’re getting so big!”
“Should you be carrying that?”
“I thought you weren’t supposed to eat that while pregnant.”
It’s such a tricky thing, really. As a parent I absolutely, more than ever before in my life, value help and support from friends and family… but with that help and support inevitably comes the advice. The helpful little suggestions. The careless comments.
Sh*t, it’s hard enough to be a team with my own husband when it comes to parenting! As much as you love your spouse, I’m convinced raising children challenges a relationship in ways you never thought were possible. So sharing the same parenting ideas with the community of people you are so blessed to have surrounding you is virtually impossible. Strangers? Forget it.
I swear I feel like a failure nearly daily due to the combination of 1) wanting to be the best parent for my child, 2) having no idea how to accomplish that, and 3) being reminded constantly, in the form of unsolicited advice and comments, that others are constantly judging my parenting skills and find them to be lacking.
So there you have it.
This New Year I’m not going to lose 10 pounds or read more books… I’m going to stop being a jerk. I’m not going to question anyone’s parenting choices. I’m not going to give any unsolicited advice. It’s just so annoying.