Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stranger Anxiety with New Moms

If you are pregnant with your first child or are a new mom (and by new mom, I mean "a mom with less than my whopping 13 months of mom experience"), I am about to let you in on a little secret: complete strangers know more about caring for your child than you do.

I have no idea what I'm doing.
It sounds weird, I know, but it's absolutely true. You're the woman who grew the child in her uterus from a microscopic little blob to a full grown baby whose presence caused your stomach to break out in purple stretch marks that faintly resembled a road map of the United States. Since you first saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test, you've likely spent every waking moment (and many sleeping ones) worrying that you weren't doing EXACTLY the right thing for your child and googling a million variations of "can I use hair spray while I'm pregnant?" And of course that worrying only intensified when your baby was brought, wrinkled and crying, into the world. Or perhaps you adopted your child, and before you ever even learned of her existence, you were spending hours researching the very best way to care for her every need so that you would be ready to be the best mommy humanly possible at a moment's notice. You are probably the only person in the world for whom a description of the color of your baby's eyes requires a minimum of three adjectives. You've spent literally hundreds of hours just staring at your baby (or you will once your baby is born), and just from the pitch and volume of your baby's cry, you can often tell exactly why he is crying in under 30 seconds. But none of that matters. Because complete strangers - people who have never so much as laid eyes on your child until right this second - are the ones who are the experts on what your baby needs.

How do I know? Because they will approach out of the blue you and tell you exactly what you should be doing for a baby that they may mistakenly think is a girl even if he is wearing a onesie that says "Mommy's little man." Or, even worse, they will loudly criticize your parenting within earshot.

Here's an example: Last September, I was taking a walk around our neighborhood with L in the ErgoBaby carrier. It was 64 degrees (I know this because I checked as soon as I got home.) In addition to being pressed up against my torso, L was wearing fleece pajamas, a sweatshirt, and a hat. I had been walking for about five minutes when I passed a 30-something man and a woman who were walking together in the opposite direction. As soon as we had passed each other, the woman said loudly, "It is WAY too cold to have a baby out here!" Imagine how grateful I was to have overheard her! See, up until that point, I thought that the fact that I can tell whether L is cold simply by listening to him breathe was a sufficient indication of whether or not I was mistreating my child by bringing him out into frigid mid-60's weather, but it turns out that the only one who is capable of determining if my son is warm enough is a woman I've only ever seen that one time who may or may not have children of her own. You'd be a fool to ignore that kind of expertise!

He's clearly freezing.
So here is my advice for new moms: Go to a crowded place. A grocery store or shopping mall will work fine. Then just stand there with your baby. It helps if your baby is only wearing one sock (or better yet, no socks at all.) Before you know it, helpful people will be swarming all over you to tell you what you're doing wrong.

Or you can save yourself the trouble of knowing how very little you know about your own child and remain in blissful ignorance by buying this onesie:

Bethany is a contributing guest blogger for Mommys Craft Obsession. To read more, visit her  blog, "I was promised more naps."

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  1. lol Wish I had one of those onesies when we visited our family in Indiana recently. We live 12 hours away and were there for my grandma's funeral. We were at the viewing and I won't say what family member it was, but she kept going on and on and on about how Myka was upset because she was teething. And no, Myka had never been around this family member at all until this point. It got to the point where I wanted to yell at her, "She's screaming because she's tired and over a dozen people have already held her or what to hold her!" Some people...

  2. I love this post!! I walk with my kids everywhere, because I do not drive and dad works two jobs. We used to live in Washington, and 64 degrees was Summer for us! We always went out walking in the freezing cold, just bundled the kiddos up. I want to smack people when they say stuff like that. For the next baby, I want that onesie :)

  3. Glad you enjoyed the post, ladies! Seems like there will always be people who are experts on everyone else's children!

  4. I love when people say he's a girl about my little boy! They see hair and think he's a girl automatically. Hello! Do you see a bow? Even when he's wearing his "manly" outfits.

  5. I LOVE this! I can totally relate & laughed so hard! Thanks for writing down what we all think & feel. :) And that onesie is great!