This is in no way scientific, but I'm convinced that new mothers are magnets for unsolicited advice. Some advice may be thoughtful and effective, but the majority of it usually isn't and ends up being more hurtful than helpful. While there are some people who can get away with saying things with a little more frequency than others (hi mom), I'd say that even unrequested guidance from well-meaning family members isn't all it's cracked up to be. That's why there's no denying the things every mom thinks when her own mom gives her unsolicited advice is a mix of gratitude and, well, some internal eye-rolling. I mean, there's nothing like your own mother impeding on your "mom game," right?
In the end I guess it's the people who are closest to you and know you best that feel the most comfortable offering you their "secret pearls of wisdom," although strangers on the internet really don't have that big a hang up in the advice department, either. While I appreciate friends and family members, and especially my own mother, wanting to help me navigate motherhood as best I can, I'm also too exhausted to really sift through everything people think I should or shouldn't be doing and then somehow apply it to my unique family situation. So while some advice is welcomed, it's also completely overwhelming and taxing. Plus, I waited my entire adolescent life to be out on my own in the "real world," making my own decisions. So, you know, like, back up mom. Jeez.
In the end, I know my mother (and every other family member and friend and even kind stranger) are just trying to help. My mom has been there and "done that," and while my baby is not the same as the babies she has raised, she wants to see me succeed as a mother, and she wants to see her grandchild happy and healthy and thriving. Still, that doesn't keep me from thinking the following things when my mother tries to "help" me parent:
"Wait, Am I Really Doing Something Wrong?"
When you don't ask for help and your mom just arbitrarily decides to offer you some anyway, it's pretty common to start doubting yourself and your abilities. Like, am I really messing up that bad? Do I look so lost that people are just on a whim offering their services?
Plus, I want my mother to think I'm a good mom, and when she hands out unsolicited advice like it's candy, I can't help but assume that she thinks I'm failing. Ugh.
"Now, Hold Up. Just Because You Did Something One Way Doesn't Mean My Way Won't Work."
Times change, and so do parenting practices. I mean, it seems like every few months new mothers are told to change the position their baby sleeps in at night. Co-sleeping was frowned upon when my mother was a new mom, but now it's relatively accepted. Things change, and while a certain parenting technique might have worked for my mother in the past, doesn't mean it's tried and true and will automatically work for me and my baby. Nope.
"I Didn't Ask for Your Advice Or Your Opinion"
Harsh, I know, but I can only handle so much before I bring out the sass.
"Hold On. Is This What You Do When You Babysit My Kid?"
I can only assume that my mother thinks I need to do a certain thing a certain way because she's done it before, and not just with her own children, but with my child, too. I know that my rules aren't always followed when grandma is watching the baby. I'm onto you, mother.
"Is This How You Raised Me? Because, Well, Now Things Are Starting To Make Sense..."
I'm not pointing blame here, mom, but I can see how your specific child rearing decisions are making things that I think and feel in my adult life very, very understandable right now. Hmmm.
"That Actually Works? Yeah, I Don't Believe You."
There's no way this ridiculous thing you're suggesting works. "Sleep when the baby sleeps?" Ha. Get out of here with that nonsense.
"Alright, Now It's Time To Stop"
Mom gets a certain amount of my time and respect because, well, she's my mom and she's not a toxic human being. I love my mother, so I'll listen to her a little longer than I'd listen to, you know, anyone else.
Still, we all have a limit. I'll be polite and I'll be patient but, eventually, mom is just going to need to learn when to back up. In order for any new mother to feel confident in her abilities, people (especially the people who love her most) need to learn how to give her space so she can figure things out for herself.
"Oh. Well, OK. Maybe You Have A Point."
So, that thing my mom suggested that I totally rolled my eyes at? Yeah, it actually works. Go figure. Sometimes, it's best to learn how to put your pride aside and give someone's suggestion a good old fashioned try. In the end, you might be surprised and, if you were right and they were wrong, you always get to say "I told you so." I mean, that's fun, right?
"I Guess I Should Apologize"
When mom is right and her unsolicited advice really did work, it doesn't take me long to realize that I owe her an apology. I mean, here I was, silently condemning her and wishing she would just be quiet, and now I'm reaping the rewards of her suggestion. So, yeah, I'm sorry.
"I Guess Mom Really Does Know Best. Ugh."
More often than not, it's my mom who gets to say, "I told you so." But, hey, that usually means the baby is sleeping, so I'll take it.