All my life, I’ve been the kind of person that gets unsolicited advice. It’s as though there’s a sign on my face: HELP WANTED – person to advise me to check those moles on my face. And, just thought you should know that leggings aren’t pants.
In the first grade, Charlotte Pinkerton advised me that Barbies don’t play, “Rejected Barbie makes the now overweight Ken regret his decision, by riding independently in front of his house on her new Palomino, Julia.” I wondered why my playmate thought I needed advice. Was it me?
In High School, I was informed by Gina Petros that my oversize flannels were not “grunge” but “mannish.” I immediately imagined how she’d run into me years later as a professional singer, known for stinging vocals and signature flannels. Again, I wondered why the unsolicited consult. Was it me?
Flash forward in time. I am pregnant. The sign on my face now reads: OBVIOUSLY UNFIT MOTHER SEEKS FREE ADVICE.
Here are a few of the free advice gems I received:
- Drink a green smoothie every day, sure they’re five dollars, but isn’t the life of your child worth five dollars? – You’re not gaining enough weight; You have a baby Kate Moss inside of you.
- You’re gaining too much weight, you don’t want to be on bed rest, like my mother’s sister, who ended up never regaining her original figure and took up needlepoint.
- You shouldn’t get your hair highlighted; it causes birth defects.
- You should get your hair highlighted, you look tired. And by tired, I mean gross.
- Put some socks on your baby. He’s freezing.
- Take those socks off your baby. He’s feverish.
- Clip your son’s nails, he looks like Lil’ Kim.
- Don’t clip his nails, put mittens on him, so he can feel like he won a prize in a wintertime storybook contest.
- Use organic cleaners, or your son will spend his life in a bubble.
- Don’t use organic cleaners, you will get the type of black mold that only exists in Czechoslovakia during wartime.
- Breastfeed your baby so that he can be more intelligent and rosy-cheeked than other babies.
- Don’t breastfeed in public; it’s obscene and braggy.
- Sleep train your baby, or he will end up a spoiled adult, who naps on the clock at his McDonald’s job.
- Don’t sleep train your baby, because it creates separation anxiety, and that’s what happened to the Unibomber when he was a baby.
Again, I wondered. Is it me?
The underlying message of free advice is: YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!
Here’s the rub. I don’t. And I don’t want to.
If you knew all the answers ahead of time, wouldn’t that spoil all the fun? I want to figure it out as I go along. I want to make mistakes.
I want to be the first to use a menu as a breastfeeding cover or find out that my child learns best when I sing it to him in a Motown voice.
TO ALL THE MOMMIES SUFFERING FROM A BARRAGE OF FREE ADVICE AND WONDERING HOW TO RESPOND TRY THIS ONE:
“Thanks for the tip, but I can’t fully process ’cause of all the vodka I had this morning before I breastfed. I would stay to hear more advice, but I’m late for hours of screen time and I need time to lay out my child’s non-organic grapes and tower of extra sugary pop-tarts.”
As for me, if anyone wants to contact me with advice, I’ll be wearing a flannel, getting highlights, and creating a plot to pointedly ride my Palomino, Julia, in front of your house.
Our next recos: New Mom Guilt: Why You’re Not Failing as a Mother