The Great Game of Parenting

Sometimes I feel like motherhood is one giant witch hunt. In the great game of parenting, I am damned if I do. And I am damned if I don’t.

Wear your baby! LET THAT KID HAVE SOME INDEPENDENCE, WHY DON’T YOU?! Give your baby unrestricted access to your breast! ISN’T IT ABOUT TIME YOU STOPPED BEING SELFISH AND WEANED? A little rice cereal in a bottle at two months makes a world of difference! COMMERCIAL RICE CEREAL IS PRACTICALLY BABY POISON!

Babies love to be outside! YOU SHOULD KEEP THAT BABY AT HOME IN WEATHER LIKE THIS! Spare the rod and spoil the child, that’s what I always say! BABY GATES ARE CAGES, WHO WANTS TO IMPRISON THEIR CHILD? Keep your child away from television until they are at least three years old! TELEVISION IS NECESSARY FOR CULTURAL LITERACY!

That baby should be rear-facing as long as possible! THE CHILD ISN’T AN INFANT; TURN THAT CAR-SEAT AROUND! Diverse flavors as offered in commercial baby food are best for developing taste buds! IF YOU DON’T MAKE YOUR OWN BABY FOOD, YOU ARE EXPOSING HER TO HARMFUL SUBSTANCES! Create a set of blank keys for that baby; by having something ‘important,’ you’re building self-esteem! CHEWING ON KEYS CAN EQUAL LEAD POISONING!

And so it goes. On. And on. And on.

This is the single most challenging part of motherhood for me: the criticism. For the first time in my life, the decisions I make (both great and small) are constantly analyzed OUT LOUD by complete strangers.

Most of the time, I nod and smile. I reassure them that they are certainly helpful, NOT AGGRAVATING AT ALL!, and I promise to keep their advice in mind.

But every now and then, this grey demon of defensive anger rises up inside of me. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I scream inside my head. She is my baby! I am a careful and doting parent! You will NEVER love my child, cherish my child the way I do! I. AM. HER. MOTHER. And I am doing my very best every minute of every day so leave me alone.

Then I resolve to really hand the next well-meaning jerk a piece of my mind. I’m going to TELL THEM WHAT I THINK OF THEIR RUBBISHNESS, I think to myself.

That’s when it happens, of course. Someone taps my shoulder. “She’s so beautiful and you can just tell she’s well-loved.” I beam with pride. “But don’t you think she ought to be down for a mid-afternoon nap? She looks sleepy. You could even nap with her. It’s so good for a baby to sleep with a parent, after all.” I sigh.

Before I know it, I’m nodding and smiling. Maybe I’ll give someone a piece of my mind tomorrow.

How do you handle unsolicited parenting advice?


Published on: October 04, 2010
About the Author
Photo of Sarah Christensen

Sarah Christensen is the mother and photographer behind the popular blog, a website that candidly and humorously chronicles the ins and outs of contemporary parenthood.

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