I remember the day so well. I invited someone I had just met over for a play date with my similarly aged children. We had basically just met and she walked in my front door with her youngest child in an infant car seat. I immediately noticed some safety issues with the seat configuration, but we had just met — was it awful if I said something?
If you know me, you’d know I’m pretty direct, but I try to tread lightly, at least for the first five minutes.
So our kids went and played, it seemed that we all got along so well, and I was excited for future play dates. As they were headed out, I figured, okay … it seems like we are totally BFFs now, it’s time I say something.
So as she put her little one back in the infant seat, I pointed out one of the issues, just to see how she responded. “I still cannot believe how cute he is! Those piggy shoulder pads are so cute, too, but they aren’t safe for the seat since they weren’t made by the manufacturer.”
She quickly left and I was immediately ghosted. I didn’t think I did anything that harmful, did I? I was careful to be gentle, and I wasn’t judging her. It is impossible for anyone to know everything, and I just figured, the more we know, right? But no matter how gentle I was, I clearly offended her.
And that’s when it dawned on me: I don’t think I’d know any of the things I know now as a mom without my “community” of moms. When I have a question, I ask my friends, I go to my Facebook moms group, I confide in my grandmother. Without this core group, I would be basically useless as a parent (I’m kidding … sort of).
But what if we don’t know we are wrong? What if we don’t know to ask the question?
If someone doesn’t gently (with empathy and without judgment) correct something that is dangerous for our children, how will we ever know until something bad happened? For me, when it comes to safety, dear mamas, please always correct me. Even if we just met. Even if we stopped being friends ten years ago. I may feel a tad bit embarrassed at first (and maybe you might too!) but in the end I am eternally grateful. You may have saved my child’s life.
When I was about to be a first time mom, I was so sure I was going to baby-wear, I had all the “ergonomic” carriers ready to go for my little one to make her appearance. I was firm on attachment parenting and I was going to hold that baby close. The problem was, I had never worn a baby before — it wasn’t a “thing” when I was babysitting — but how hard could it be?
After my little one was born, I headed to a meet up with some fellow new mamas. I put her in the perfect woven ring sling and walked in the door and let me tell you, I felt so confident. That was until a fellow mama walked over to me and (gently) said, “Gosh, what a sweet baby, did you know she is a tad low? A major rule for baby-wearing is ‘close enough to kiss.’ If you don’t bring her a tad higher up, she could suffocate.”
My heart sank. All my confidence was literally gone. I did not know what to say, so I just stared for a moment. But in those few awkward seconds I thought to myself, okay, okay, she really is just trying to help, she means no harm. With tears in my eyes, I asked her if she could show me how to adjust the ring sling. She immediately smiled and so kindly showed me what I needed to correct, and how to make her and I both more comfortable.
We need each other in this sometimes overwhelming thing called parenting. It takes a village, right?
Keep in mind that it is not okay to call someone out on something that is not unsafe. Like, breastfeeding in public. Have an issue with that? Well, just don’t, or keep your mouth shut.
But when it comes to safety issues, let’s help each other to be our best parenting selves. Because when we know better, we do better.