Soon as you have an obvious baby bump, people from all walks of life take it as an invitation to give you all sorts of unsolicited advice. Some of it is good, some bad, most unusable. Their heart is in the right place trying to prepare you for the crazy ride ahead, but it is difficult for anything to really stick when your future life as a parent is still so abstract. None of the parenting books or “helpful” people can truly prepare you. And God only knows, trying to look up something helpful on the internet is a one way express ticket to panic (yes, I see the irony here). However, I’ve received some golden nuggets of advice that have stood the test of time and made this parenting thing a bit easier and more enjoyable.
The best parenting advice I’ve ever received.
Best advice from the internet: Find your tribe When I was in college it was really easy to make friends. Everyone was in the same boat; eager to test this life as an independent adult and meet new people. Get-togethers were routinely planned by our RA (resident assistant) and girls in my dorm even left their doors open for walk-ins. Out in the real world it was more difficult to make friends. Everyone focused on their careers and no one left their front doors open for walk-ins anymore. Go figure. But once I became a mom, making friends was easy again. My baby was my wing man; opening doors to conversation and friendship with other moms.
I met my son’s playgroup friends at a new moms group through the hospital where I gave birth. We didn’t know each other very well but all wanted new friends at this juncture of life and quickly formed a weekly get together. Almost 3 years later, we still chat via the app Kakao, almost daily, and meet monthly. Together we’ve weathered miscarriages and infertility, celebrated 5 more births, rallied during marital strife, cheered professional and personal accomplishments, enjoyed mom’s night out, consoled during health crisis’, and braved life together. Twinkle Sparkle is right; friendship is magic. Doing life alongside someone in your situation makes living ten times better in the good times and bad. They fulfill a role your husband, parents and kids simply cannot.
Best advice from my mom: The baby knows how to be a baby Leave it to my mom to give me the best advice which was passed down to her, from her own mother. It sounds so simple and obvious, but to me it is profound. I didn’t have to teach the baby to be a baby and figure out how to be a mom. I just have to worry about me, which was plenty to worry about! My baby knew what he was doing. It was up to me to figure out how to work in tandem and harmony with him. For some reason this advice lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders and I hope it does the same for you.
Best advice from me to you: Buy everything used Other than a car seat, there isn’t anything your baby needs new. I promise. And if you live in Chicagoland, there are consignment and re-sale shops out the wazoo; full of like-new items of every imaginable kind for your kiddo. We live in a land of such excess that there are even item specific re-sales focused on just clothing or only books or toys. Not only that, but they are super organized and set up like actual stores, but often take place in churches or school gyms. And of course don’t forget actual stores like Once Upon a Child. Take advantage! You, and your loved ones buying for you, will save tons of cash, help the environment by creating less demand, and put money in the pockets of local parents who sell instead of mega-chains. Once I bought 3 t-shirts and a book for my kid and spent a total of $2.75, and that included the fee to use my credit card! I would have spent at least $25 retail.
Best advice from a stranger: You’re going to be a great mom. Near the end of my first pregnancy I had it up to here with everything in life. Being pregnant, random strangers talking to me about my baby, losing my body at an alarming rate, not being able to have sushi or wine- the whole thing. I was shopping at my favorite store (Goodwill, obviously) when a woman with a couple of kids trailing behind her approached me from the other end of an aisle. “Great.” I thought. “I can already tell she’s trying to figure out what to say to me.” I’m sure I was displaying a sour face to match my sour attitude. Once she got close enough she asked, “Is this your first?” Hesitantly I answered, “Yes” and braced myself. “You’re going to be a great mom. I can tell.” She smiled and went on her merry way. My whole body relaxed in relief and new confidence. “She thinks I’m going to be a great mom just by looking at me!” I beamed while I finished my shopping. She lifted me up when I needed it.
So there you have it. My advice buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest. What is the best parenting advice you received? What is the worst? If you could give advice to chronic advice givers, what would it be?