From the moment I found out of was pregnant, I became the target for arrows of advice being shot out from every angle.
Some advice I could take in, and other advice absolutely mortified me. I couldn’t believe how negative people could be, I mean it is just a baby, how hard could it be!
1. Deliver vaginally or your child will suffer in a myriad of ways.
I did not have the choice with either of my kids. Despite my voluptuous size, my hips were too small to deliver naturally. But this did not seem to matter, because when I told people that I was booked in for a C-section the advice came rolling in!
From aunties telling me that my child would suffer from croup (which he does), to advice on how he would need to see a biokineticist (which he does) because he would not have been stretched out in the birth canal – I understand that vaginal birth is better, but my hips are too small!
I kept telling people that if this were the middle ages I would die in child birth, and it is like water off a ducks back as they go on to tell me another reason why a Caesarean is bad for my child. People mean well, but they do not listen well.
2. Die Krampies, Die Krampies (The cramps, the cramps.)
I know that first time mothers do not have all the answers, but sometimes we actually do want to figure them out by ourselves. I live in a very small town that is dominated by well meaning Afrikaans tannies (aunties) who are brimming to the top with advice.
When Jeremy was little he battled with colic, and this meant that he screamed, puked and suffered from reflux (probably from not being delivered vaginally I’m sure). I cannot tell you how I felt after a night of screaming, changing sheets and tear stained puffy eyes; but I can tell you that when I walk into town looking like a disheveled mess (aka new mother), I really do not want to hear you tell me what I already know.
“Yes thank you, I am aware that my child has the cramps. Feel free to take him for a couple hours; shove your breast in his mouth and let him puke all that human milk in your face”.
But what I really say is, “Really, wow thanks.” And I zone out as they begin to list all the ways that I can fix it – not one of which worked. We suffered through it and at age 4 he still battles with “Die Krampies” except now he just farts – still wanna take him for a couple hours?
3. Do not let that child fall asleep on your boob!
My mother, bless her heart, was never able to breastfeed and therefore has no idea how amazing it feels to nourish your child. And what is even more amazing, is when that child falls asleep on the breast and you fall asleep too. Snuggling with your child is such a special time!
Yes I made a rod for my own back because by age 1 Olivia had to suck on my mammaries just to fall asleep at night, but we got through it. I was never one of those mothers who could sit up and breastfeed at 2am whilst praying over my child.
Reality check – at 2am I am tired, I cannot keep my eyes open and if lying in my bed breastfeeding my child means we all fall asleep, then Eureka!
4. Parenting is a series of stages, and each stage gets progressively worse.
Yes thank you great aunt Diane, I know that it is a series of stages. But you are supposed to tell me that they are wonderful and invigorating, so that I feel like this journey is going to be worth the rollercoaster ride. But following it up with the grandslam words such as “and each stage gets progressively worse” really did not aid my post-natal blues.
Jeremy is currently punching his sister, Olivia is screaming and yes my blues have lasted 4 years longer than they should have, but what else do you expect with that kind of parenting advice. Mothers want to hear encouraging stories, not sentences of dismay from older moms that look forlorn. Good god woman, why don’t we all just jump off a bridge right now.
5. You think this is bad, wait till they are teenagers.
Hearing an older mom say these words absolutely gripes me. It grates my carrot in such a way that I actually just want to slap them across the face with a wet fish. I realise she has been to the show, gotten the t-shirt and is well seasoned, but really, can it be any harder! If this means that raising two pre-schoolers is easier than raising teenagers then point me to that bridge. What I really want to hear is that it gets easier with time and that kids are a blessing.
Perhaps South Africa is a little more negative in attitude than the rest of the world, but think twice before you tell that pregnant mother about a friend who just had a miscarriage. Or before you tell the overtired and strained mother than it is only going to become harder. And think especially hard before you tell the parent with the glazed eyes, black rings and fresh tufts of grey hair that teenagers are even worse – because deep down we know all of this. We do; we just do not want to hear it.
So be advised world, my wet floppy fish is out and ready to slap you across the face the next time I hear even a hint of bad parenting advice!