I stepped in it yesterday. Inadvertently, mind you, but I definitely stepped in it. “Stepped in what,” you ask?
Those petty, stupid “mommy wars.” That’s what.
An acquaintance reached out and asked the
rude well meaning folks of Facebook about borrowing a baby book because they’ll be having their first baby in a few weeks and want to be prepared. I should have heard, “It’s a trap!” in my head but instead I stepped in it because I offered my opinion when I clearly shouldn’t have (insert eyeroll here). I meant to offer my opinion in a honest way. I wanted to tell the new mom that I threw my books in the trash because they frustrated the heck out of me and completely threw off my gut instincts that I really didn’t think I had in me (new moms: trust those gut instincts!). Instead, I told her not to read a baby book ever. And apparently that makes me stupid. Or, at the very least, unable to give an opinion about anything. Whatever.
I realize that the mom-to-be wasn’t really asking anyone what they thought of baby books, but I felt like my answer about throwing them in the trash would have been confusing had I not followed it up with why.I was 23 years old when the girls were born. I was young and naive and (obviously) inexperienced. I read book after book after book on pregnancy and babies. I listened to some friends, but, bless them, they were just trying to survive their first foray into parenthood too, so they weren’t super helpful either. I read stuff online that I probably shouldn’t have (yay confusing world of the internet). It’s really no one’s fault but mine that I kinda went crazy during my first 6 months as a mom. But honestly? I wish someone would have told me.
I wish someone would have told me to put down the books. I wish someone would have told me to stop searching online forums. I wish someone would have told me to ask friends with older kids for advice (parents in thick of the newborn stage with their first child can barely keep their eyes open much less give any good advice). I wish I would have thought to find a mom or two with multiples. My poor singleton friends could only do their best to smile and nod because they didn’t really know what to say to me. Thank goodness I married a man who was able to navigate me through the murky postpartum, lose-all-common-sense part of becoming a first-time parent.
That’s where I was really trying to go with my thoughts about baby books. I am the kind of person who reads books by “experts” and what have you and feels a strong need to put their words into practice (in hindsight, I realize that is dumb, but when you’re about to be a mom for the first time, you tend to grab a hold of anything that will help you make sense of what’s about to happen to you). That’s probably just one of many reasons I prefer fiction to nonfiction. I digress.In reality, absolutely nothing anyone says or does nor any book you read can prepare you for what’s about to happen to you. Becoming a parent and being responsible for another human being is such an earth-shatteringly huge event, I don’t foresee anyone ever accurately transcribing it on a page. It’s not until you’re in the middle of it, the dead-of-night, half-asleep, is-that-pee-or-sweat-on-my-shirt, did-her-diaper-get-changed-before-the-last-feeding-mess, that you go, “Oh. THIS is what they were talking about.” That is the part of parenting, my friends, that just never seems to be quite captured in book form. It would read more like a hilarious memoir of someone’s life than a book on how to sleep train a child or how to practice attachment parenting. The ideas are there, but the execution of said ideas just never goes the way you plan for it to.And I guess that brings me to the whole “mommy war” I inadvertently inserted myself into. I wasn’t trying to act like a know-it-all. Just ask my kids. They both know I have no idea what I’m doing. And I am finally, blessedly ok with it. But I am someone who, by nature, must know all. the. answers. When you become a parent, you immediately realize you know nothing. I just really wanted this mom-to-be to know that she might read all the books on all the things and still feel overwhelmed and know nothing. And it’s completely normal to feel this way.I have found so much value in leaning on honest friends who keep it real and don’t feed you with the textbook answers about stuff. I have found value in speaking with older women who have “been there and done that.” What I don’t find value in is books from “experts” that don’t know me or my kids. Maybe that’s “stupid,” but it’s worked out pretty well for me so far. Why do we have to be so rude when people share their experiences? There is no “right” way to parent. Trust me, I’ve tried to find the “right” way on multiple occasions and with each passing year I have to change up that game plan. Can’t we just share our experiences and then let the parents figure it out on their own? If we never shared our experiences, how would we know there are other choices out there?
Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known as a young parent? How do you feel about sharing your experiences with other parents?