Readers, I'm delighted to introduce our newest contributor, Lane! Lane (aka LCB) is not only wickedly funny, but...in her own words...
"I am currently...an intentionally unemployed social worker who is growing a human, following my husband's dream, trying to stay relevant, and practicing my mothering skills on two rescued dogs, Enid and Falcor."
If you, like me, can't get enough of Lane, check out her blog, the Overseas Trapeze.
As soon as you announce your pregnancy to your loved ones and the world, hot of on the heels of joyful congratulations comes unsolicited advice. Enough of my friends are now mothers that this onslaught of information was not completely unexpected. I realize that within people's love for us and excitement for the changes coming in our lives comes their natural urge to help in some way. And sharing stories, tips, warnings and encouragement is one way of providing that help before the baby arrives, when there isn't much tangible to do. I am a firm believer in the wisdom than can come with experience, so I have taken many of these offerings to heart. I'm no fool.
However, in between the sage words and the enlightened encouragement, it is impossible to miss the stories, tips and warnings that have a bit of a cynical edge, a negative tone. Perhaps it is when someone asks whether you hope to breastfeed/cloth diaper/co-sleep/stand on your head during labor, and upon hearing your answer gives you the 'Tisk, tisk, we'll see about that! I said I would do (insert activity), too, but it isn't realistic. Let me tell you how to do it right from the start.' Or perhaps the person in question doesn't even bother to make up a question so they have a pretext from which to launch their rant, they just cut to the chase (I actually appreciate this, if only for time-saving reasons). 'Don't even think about natural labor/epidural/c-sections! You are a fool if you do!' or maybe 'Don't expect to sleep with your husband for a month/six months/a year/until 2034! Your baby will be in your bed until it's good and ready, and it's cruel to consider otherwise!'
Even all this Schadenfreude is well-intentioned sharing, I'm sure. And the vast majority of all the parenting advice is actually really useful, very friendly, not presumptuous, and thoughtful. I find myself googling phrases or writing down brand names after many great conversations. But the above mentioned negativity leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the feeling that since the advisor has already gone through what I am experiencing they know better, know all, know I am just naive and deluded, know where I am going to make my mistakes. I want help, I don't know much about what I am going through, and I am glad I have an outlet for those fears. But please...don't ruin this for me.
Imagine if, when proclaiming your acceptance into the esteemed institution of higher learning that you chose to get you out of your one horse town, someone told you that university was not an oasis of interesting friends, freedom from parents, hilarious dorm antics and engaging intellectual pursuits but instead would include bouts of homesickness, some Ramen noodle induced weight gain, lackluster professors and a roommate with a Hello Kitty bedspread. You would have been seriously bummed out. It would, of course, all have been true, but what good is the experience if you can't discover it yourself? Imagine, upon announcing your engagement, all your married friends letting you know that your time on cloud nine is limited, because wedding bliss actually leads to fights over drawers left open and arguments about paying bills on time and pee on the toilet seat. Advise newlyweds about honeymoon destinations or life insurance agents or the virtues of a California King over a Queen sized bed, but let them fumble and fight and figure it out. Life is better that way, people learn that way, relationships grow stronger that way.
I feel similarly about pregnancy and the resulting journey into motherhood. I reserve the right to have preconceived notions about how I want to approach everything from my pregnancy diet to pain management during labor to circumcision to sleep schedules to potty training. And then I also reserve the right to change my mind if the situation presents differently than I had imagined. I reserve the right to be realistic but optimistic about every single aspect of the changes coming in my life, and then to be let down later on my own timing, of my own accord. I reserve the right to answer 'I don't know yet' to any question, at any time, and have that be the end of the discussion.
That being said...maternity jeans: medium or full panel? Breast pads: washable or disposable?