When I was pregnant with my first child, I got no shortage of advice. From other moms. From random strangers. From the mother-in-law who should not be giving any advice about raising children to anyone.
It’s not that they didn’t mean well, because of course everyone always means well when they tell you that babies actually like to sleep on their side not their back, and propped up, but not with a pillow because that’s dangerous and—what, your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet?
Can’t we just talk about the weather?
So after having my first, and then a few more, I vowed to never be that mom who would just give someone advice that she didn’t ask for. And really, even if she did ask for it I’d hesitate, and then I’d start with something like, “Take this with a grain of salt…” or, “You know you and your kids best, but here’s what worked for me...”
And, even then, it would have nothing to do with sleep or how long to breast-feed or which cloth diapers are the best.
Because we all figure that stuff out and, really, it doesn’t completely affect our livelihood in the long run. Pampers, Huggies, bottles, breast-feeding ... we all ask the questions about our babies, but what we should really be asking—what we should really want to know—is how we take care of ourselves.
We need moms who think like us and live like us and just get it.
But even asking that seems selfish when you’ve got a little parasite hanging on you 24 hours a day.
You say, HOW COULD YOU CALL YOUR CHILD A PARASITE? And I say that they’re cute and lovable and I’d lay down flat in front of a train for them without batting an eyelash, but they suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. You won’t even know they’re doing it until one day you wake up and you can’t breathe and you’re sad for no reason, and you just want someone to put her arm around you and tell you it’s going to be OK.
That’s your tribe.
That’s what we moms need most. And that’s exactly the advice I’d give.
There are tons of cool products and services and gadgets and gear (heck, with four kids I know all of them), and they will help. I couldn’t have survived without my breast pump. And that amazing swaddling blanket that actually got my baby to sleep. The sling? I’d have died without my sling.
But, at the end of the day, we need each other. We need moms who think like us and live like us and just get it. You can text them or call them or look at them and they understand like it’s some sort of mind-meld situation where no actual words are exchanged but they reach out to you and you know it’s going to be all right.
And even if you can’t look at them in the face, there’s the thing called THE INTERNET. There’s Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, where you can share photos of your child covered in your favorite blush, and you’ll get likes and comments telling you that they’ve been there.
Maybe they’ll even share their own crazy photos and you can laugh together. Even if you’re across the country. Even they can’t physically scoop you (or your kids) up so you can cry alone in your coffee (or your vodka).