What is it about becoming a mother than means that suddenly you know everything about everything, and you are always right?
Because somehow this seems to be a magical process that happens to many women. They squeeze a baby out of their body and suddenly they become an expert on many things that they weren't an expert on just months previously. (And as I understand it, if the baby is squeezed specifically out of your vagina, that adds even more expertise.)
About a year ago, I wrote a post on Mothers in Medicine how at times, I am just a giant ball of stress, notably during the process of picking my kids up and getting them home. I wrote:
"I don't like stress. Stress stresses me out. While I adore my kids more than anything, it would be so nice to be able to take one shower without someone busting in on me and asking when I'll be done. It would be nice to spend a whole day in bed getting to do whatever I want to do. Something like that feels selfish, even decadent, to me now."
The responses, in general, were pretty supportive. But naturally, moms know best. So I got a couple that weren't quite as supportive with some "helpful advice." Such as, "Can't you use a bit of discipline? It sounds like she's spoiled."
Actually, I think my daughter being upset because every single day for the last two years, I've had a snack for her on the way home and this time I've failed to provide one is a pretty reasonable response for a small child. But thanks for that helpful advice, mama.
But my absolute favorite was this one: "Just an FYI, the baby shouldn't be wearing a coat at all in the car seat. You can't get it tight enough with the coat on."
CLEARLY, when you're stressed to the breaking point, the answer is to take all your kids' coats off in the freezing snow before buckling them in. That is something that obviously every mother does and it's not totally insane at all. Great, helpful advice that I was obviously just asking for. Thanks, mama.
Recently, a woman was publicly criticizing me online for my response to that particular comment to that post. She wrote:
"...She wrote about how difficult it was to buckle her daughter into the carseat because the daughter’s winter coat was so huge. Someone pointed out that it’s unsafe to buckle a carseat over a jacket and she’d solve her problem and keep her daughter safe by taking the jacket off.
She went ballistic.
I then posted a comment about how the carseat info was correct and I was shocked she responded with such vitriol. My comment was deleted."
First, for the record, I'm not a moderator for Mothers in Medicine, so I can't delete comments there and I'm innocent of that offense (it likely had links in it that got it filtered as spam). Second, I didn't write about "how difficult it was to buckle [my] daughter into the carseat because the daughter’s winter coat was so huge." I wrote about how my life is stressful. But certain mothers felt that they knew best and just had to weigh in, no matter how obnoxious it made them sound. No, I wasn't nice in my response. But I just freaking warned everyone in my post that I was really stressed out. If someone puts up a sign saying there are lions behind this door, you probably shouldn't open the door and tell the lions they're buckling their kids in wrong.
When I pointed out to this women how her comment made me feel, her response was, "I understand having a rotten day. But, please don't let your rotten day put your children in danger."
Because clearly, it's not about being right. It's that she was just sooooo worried about my poor little kids. People who give unwanted advice to other parents are really just compassionate souls worried about the poor kids.
Not that it's anyone's business, but my daughter has a compressible jacket that's "carseat safe." I told her this and she kindly retracted her comments and announced to the website where she'd been bashing me, "She assures me that her children are safe in special car seat safe jackets."
And everyone was so relieved. Because now Fizzy's kids are safe. Which is what everyone was just terrified about. Shit, they probably couldn't even sleep at night. It wasn't about being right at all. Or else nobody commented or cared.
I'm a mom so that means I apparently know everything. So here's some really wise advice:
Do not give other mothers unwanted advice about their kids just because you think you know better than they do. Ever. That's right, ever. They are doing a good job raising their kids. Your advice isn't going to do anything except raise their blood pressure.