When you’re pregnant or a new mom, people like to bestow all kinds of useless advice on you. Pearls of wisdom like “enjoy every moment” or “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Please. I don’t know much, but I have one piece of advice that I think might actually help some new mommies out there. This is what I sorely wish someone had said to me when that little one arrived: You Don’t Want to Be That Mother Who Knows Best.
I see you over there, Control Freak New Mommy. You’re just like I was, reading and Googling and list-making. You’re figuring that with all this knowledge you’ll know pretty much what the hell to do with your baby, but take it from this mentally exhausted, overwhelmed mom of five: you’re setting things up all wrong. Whether you have one or five babies, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THE EXPERT. Here’s why:
Let’s take a little trip down memory lane back to when I had my first baby. There we were, yours truly and my dear husband and our precious baby boy. The hubs was home from work for two weeks as we got settled, but I was generally the one caring for the baby. I spent more time with him and knew better what to do, you know what I mean? Plus I’d read all those nifty books!
So I would change him, and burp him, and feed him, and decide what he needed to do and when, and make all the little plans for his little life. If my husband picked the baby up, I’d usually give him some “helpful” pointers about how he was holding him wrong or burping him wrong and oh, now he’s crying…better give him back to me.
Now let’s fast forward, shall we, to last Saturday morning, chez moi.
Mommy wakes up (very early). She puts out breakfast because only she knows what the kids eat that day. Mommy tells the chitlins what to wear, because only she knows what they are doing that day (soccer), even though they have been playing soccer for two months. And only she knows where each kids soccer clothes are (including shin guards, cleats, uniforms).
Time to head out? Mommy crouches down tying all the shoe laces while Daddy catches up on the iPad because Daddy doesn’t get the kids ready because he doesn’t know all the ins and outs. Mommy hands Daddy the bag with the change of clothes, lunch and the water bottles. The kids are firing questions at Mommy and she’s fielding them like a catcher during bating practice. “Can I do this?” “Why did he get that?” It’s only 9 a.m. and you’re so drained from the excess of planning, details and decision-making that you’re ready to head back to bed.
The afternoon? Mommy’s spends her “downtime hour” answering emails from schools and coaches and teachers and PTA groups, all starting with the refrain “Just a friendly reminder!” Picking a library hour for each of her kids. Deciding which insipid birthday party we are going to have to go to and trying to find a creative way to lie her way out of at least some of them. Oh, summer is around the corner — better start researching camps! Meanwhile, the kids are parked in front of the TV, which leaves Mommy guilt-ridden …and what’s Daddy doing? Downloading music onto his iPod!
Oh wait, it’s time for dinner. Time to order the Saturday night pizza. This is “Daddy’s job.” And even though we’ve ordered exactly the same pizza from the same restaurant every single Saturday night for around 6 years – that’s about 336 times – Daddy still waits for Mommy to TELL HIM to order the pizza and TELL HIM what type of pizza to order because she has trained him NOT TO MAKE ANY DECISION WHATSOEVER REGARDING THE KIDS.
So, who would you rather be? The 1-800 Call Center or the pinch hitter brought in to do the only task that is actually fulfilling as a parent: having fun with the kids?
I thought so. But if you aren’t careful, you’re going to turn out just like me. And if this happens to you, you might bitch and moan, sister, like almost all of us mommies, but fact of the matter is that it’s pretty much your fault.
You told the hubs the second that baby came to let YOU be the one. You told him NOT to make the decisions, nor to sweat the details but rather to be instructed and guided by your wisdom at every turn. Now he’s been well trained, for years, in WAITING IN THE WINGS TO BE ASKED TO APPEAR. Go Mom!
So STOP. Nip this baby in the bud. Stains, mismatched outfits, missed naps, unfinished bottles, leaking loose diapers, letting the baby watch TV on his lap while he downs a beer during the game …BRING IT ON.
Get the hell away from that baby and let Daddy do his messy, sloppy, imperfect, thing. He’s setting you up to be happier with every mis-hap. You might actually get a shot at enjoying something once in a while and having one moment’s peace. And when you get home, zip your mouth shut and don’t say one single critical word when you see spit up on the carpet!!
I’m trying to change my ways, but I have to be honest, it’s too late for me. So I’m trying to save you.
You’ll thank me later.