I’m opinionated. (We all are.) Always have been (to a major fault). I used to have more of an unapologetic loud-mouth attitude about it amongst my friends (in our younger, kid-free days), but now I’m noticing that I’m starting to edit myself, if only a little bit, when it comes to my friends, their babies and my ‘opinions and advice.’
I write this as someone who obviously loves my friends (and their adorable babies!), but we all know: those baby years can be challenging. I have my challenges. You have yours. In every other aspect of life (dating, marriages, relationships, work challenges) friends share, relate and solve problems with each other… right? Right. But, I’m finding that problem-solving baby issues isn’t always an open topic… even among friends. Why is this? As a brand new mom the first time around (almost 3 years ago), I was game to get all sorts of advice from friends… my own mom, my mom’s friends, my sister (who hadn’t even had a baby at the time, but proved herself a newborn-wizard). Please: Tell me how to feed to the baby. Tell me when to start letting the baby cry a bit (to self-soothe). (Tell me that it’s even ok to let the baby cry a little bit.) Tell me that it’s ok to wake up a baby when it’s time to eat so that you can get it on a schedule. Tell me how to create said ‘schedule.’ Admittedly, I did not read ANY baby books (ok, maybe just Dr. Harvey Karp’s “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” which truly was magical)… but if you were a friend or relative whose young kids were happy, generally-behaved, totally-in-love with their mommy, I WANTED TO HEAR YOUR NEW MOM ADVICE. I got tips about sleeping, feeding, scheduling… All I did was follow directions from others (while listening to my own gut), and… both of my babies’ first years were FUN and manageable. Yes, all babies are different… but they’re all still babies. In this age of over-informed research paired with old-fashioned family advice, babies kinda DO come with instructions. I knew what I wanted to accomplish with my babies the first year: equal parts love, parental-security, a little bit of benign-neglect (basically teaching the kid to entertain themselves in spurts, as opposed to *constantly* tending to their every single thought and creating an overly-attached child who can’t be separated from mommy for more than one minute)… I even brainwashed my big girl. I listened to those around me. It helped.
But for some of my friends who are experiencing (or will experience) what I’ve just gone through *twice* in the past two years, I feel as though offering any of my earned insight somehow offends them. When they’ve complained about certain challenges (sleep, schedules), I’ve suggested tips that worked for me… and yes, I’m pretty sure I offended. Maybe I just say things too quickly and it comes off as jarring? Probably. (The only person I seem to have free exchange with is my sister… Lord knows she’s helped me!) It’s just so hard to see some of your smartest friends challenged by their wee ones and become visibly and emotionally miserable about it… when you just might have THE solution (a solution that they sometimes even refuse to try). This is why I now don’t offer new moms advice… unless someone asks for it deliberately.
DO YOU OFFER NEW MOMS ADVICE, OR DO YOU SHY AWAY?