New parents want more of a lot of things: sleep, hot showers, meals eaten with two hands, clean/folded/put-away laundry, and did I mention sleep? As a new mom, myself, I’ve come to realize that something most new parents (moms especially) don’t need any more of is cliché advice. We’ve all heard the same ones:
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Ummmm… if I do that, who is going to check how many likes my Facebook post about being exhausted received? Come on, priorities.
Sleep train/don’t sleep train right away/never/when they’re older/while they’re young. How about I get drunk and solve calculus problems? Sounds about as confusing as sifting through sleep training advice. Better yet, I’ll just pay attention to my baby’s sleep signals and then “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Worry about the laundry later, your baby won’t be a baby forever. Exactly how many pairs of my dirty underwear are YOU willing to wear?
No matter how well intentioned the advice may be, in the deeply personal world of parenthood, it mostly serves the person on the giving end, not the receiving. That includes the advice I’m about to share with you. Although, hopefully you find it marginally more relevant (and humane) than your great-aunt Mildred’s, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
Let me be the first to acknowledge the hypocrisy of giving advice in an article criticizing advice. That’s why I encourage you to think of the following tidbits not as pieces of “advice” to be followed, but instead as “permissions” you’re encouraged to give yourself, new mama.
1. Cut the Onesie Off. Here’s the scene: your remarkable, incredible, brilliant, perfect newborn just blew out her diaper. Like, seriously blew it out. And it’s all over. Like, seriously all over. For a few brief moments you contemplate pulling the onesie over her head. Then you think about pulling it down over her shoulders. One way, your baby gets poop on her face. The other, it gets all over you.
Give yourself permission to cut the onesie off. It cost $35? Lesson learned, don’t buy babies expensive clothes. They will literally crap all over them. Cut it off. It was your favorite? Spoiler alert: it used to be your favorite, now it’s covered in poop. Cut it off.
Blades toward the feet, obviously.
2. Awkwardly Breastfeed in Public. If you aren’t breastfeeding, skip to #3. Or read this and secretly feel a sense of relief that the concept of “nipple management” isn’t part of your daily routine.
Never shown your nipples to a random stranger before? It’s going to happen often now, and it’s okay to feel embarrassed or awkward about it. If you’re like me, that discomfort is going to conflict with your earth-goddess, modern feminist, entitled to feed my child where I want sensibility. Those two things will live in tension.
Someone may actually say something to you. Something like, “You should cover up” or “That’s indecent.” When this happens, your child, milk dripping from her grubby little mouth, will likely unlatch, turn and stare at the stranger. This act will result in the unwanted busybody having a front row seat to the Unmanaged Nipple Show; only furthering the awkwardness.
At some point in my early nursing in public days, full of hubris I said, “I WISH somebody would say something to me!” In truth, I hope no one ever says anything to me because it’s awkward and I’m clumsy and my baby frequently pops off my nipple and flails about, leaving me and my leaking nipple exposed. Despite how non-sexual it feels to you, and regardless how vehemently you believe in your right to nurse in public, you’re still allowed to be embarrassed.
Don’t let that stop you from doing it, though. Awkwardly breastfeed in public.You made it through middle school, right? You can handle awkward. It gets easier and on the plus side, you’ve likely got less acne this go ‘round.
3. Doubt Means Don’t. I’m stealing this mantra from Oprah and giving it to you. You get a mantra! You get a mantra! Everybody gets a mantraaaaa!!!
We have the great fortune of living one google search away from limitless amounts of information. You could not read all the information available to you about parenting if you wanted to, and that’s a good thing. It’s too much information.
Want to know where to find the best information about how to take care of you and your baby? Let me google that for you: your gut. Follow it. If you can’t hear it, you’ve got too much noise. Too many distractions.
Cut the internet off. Don’t answer the call from your mother. Don’t ask your friend for advice. Stop reading message boards (for the love of Buddha, stop reading message boards).
There is no one parenting philosophy that will meet all your needs. No child is the same as yours. No mother is the same as you. Find a community of people who aid in your confidence as a mother. Join Facebook groups that inspire and affirm your parenting style. Go to postpartum support groups. Create “the village” for yourself that you need. Do all those things because damn it, parenting is hard. Mothering is hard. You’ll need that community when you’re feeling a little shaky, but the moment one of those things doesn’t make sense, turn it off. Unplug. Stop going. At least until you’ve had enough time to tap into your instincts. Doubt means don’t.
If something doesn’t feel right? It isn’t.
Grooving on something a little different than your mommy friends? Rock on.
Trust yourself, mama. Ignore unwanted advice. Including mine.
Related post: 25 Things New Moms Think