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Hi, all. Did ya miss

Hi, all. Did ya miss me? Well, I survived the illness around here and more to the point so did the boys. I know I've been lax in my blogging, but I'm back on the blogwagon...or whatever.
So I had a busy weekend, with three, count 'em three parties. Friday was a baby shower for a cousin, Saturday was a surprise birthday party for an old friend (I can call her old now, she's 30) and then there was the obligatory Super Bowl party today.
Babies everywhere.
Of course, you expect a baby at a baby shower. At this baby shower there was the baby of honor, two other babies, and one pregnant woman. At the birthday party there were two babies (including the birthday girl's two month old daughter - I had no idea she'd had a baby. It's been a while since we've gotten together), and two pregnant women. Many many ultrasound pictures.
Then there was the super bowl party, with some of the dearest people I know. Two of them are pregnant, but they're both old hands at this baby stuff.
Now, the thing about pregnant women and new mothers is the drive to talk about your baby. This is fine, this is normal. Lord knows I did it. Ahem. Some would suggest I still do prattle a bit on the subject of certain wee boys. But new moms are just starting the journey of figuring it out. Some are well read and confident, some are bewildered and questioning. But most of them want to talk about it.
I love talking about baby stuff. I love babies. And new moms are just adorable. But I've come to feel a bit wary about entering these discussions. They're simply fraught with landmines.
I've run across some great blog entries lately about the "mommy wars." This one at Strong Coffee, for instance (read the post titled "My Parenting Pet Peeve"). They point out the ridiculousness of mothers attacking one another over their parenting choices. I've been on the receiving end of that sort of righteous indignation, and it's not a good thing. There is so much parenting guilt out there it drives me nuts. Personally, I blame the "parenting experts," who have undermined parents' confidence by acting as though there are rules every parent must follow in order to be a good parent. We've bought into the stories about "Six Things You Must NEVER Say to Your Child" and it causes an atmosphere of guilt and anxiety. Add on top of that the proclivity toward competitive parenting (my six month old is sitting unassisted. Yours?), and it gets ugly.
But truth be told, the well said objections to the "mommy wars" cause me a twinge of guilt. Because I don't attack other women, but oh my I think it. I've spent many years now sincerely working to understand this job of motherhood and what works for my kids. I've made mistakes I regret sorrowfully, and I've figured out solutions that make me smile just a bit at the tidiness of them. I care about the subject, and it's hard for me when I see a fellow mom doing something that I have come to believe is a mistake.
But I usually don't voice my opinions, because like I said, there are a lot of landmines out there. So while I was biting my tongue this weekend I had a lot of opportunity to muse on why this was so emotional.
I remember when Tre was a newborn and I would take him out into the world. I was simply besotted with my child. I remember saying in all seriousness, "I just don't know why people walking down the street don't burst into tears when they see him, he's just so beautiful." I had it bad.
And I heard a lot of advice from a lot of people. Cover his head. Take that sweater off, he's too warm. You should never put socks on a baby's feet; they'll cut off the circulation to his toes. I remember one woman walked up to me as I held Tre. He was sucking on a pacifier. He used to work at his pacifier with such a serious expression and steady pace that we called it "putting him on binky duty." Anyhow, she marched up to me and snapped, "Get that thing out of his mouth. I just HATE to see babies with those disgusting things in their mouths."
I was taken aback. Not just by her, but by all the people who felt they needed to give me advice. Was I that inept of a mother? Could they recognize my complete inability to raise a child? Were they right about the sock thing?
I thought about it a lot. I only had one child then, so although I thought my days were unbelievably busy, I still had time to think.
And the conclusion I came to is that the advice of strangers is a compliment of sorts. Not to me, but to my son. We all go around with unexpressed opinions about the people around us. Whether it's the smell of the guy next to us in the elevator or the way the woman ahead of us in the parking lot is driving. There are things we notice in the people around us and would change if it were up to us. But we don't go around telling people these things. I may be certain that the woman in line ahead of me at the supermarket should rethink the gold lame pants. But I'm not going to grab her by the elbow and set her straight. Because it would hurt her feelings, and ultimately what do I care what she wears?
But babies...ah, we care about babies. So whether it's our business or not, and whether it will be well received or not, people tend to speak up when they think they see a baby that's not being treated right. Because those babies are just so precious.
What I have to admit to myself is that my desire to lecture some hapless new mom comes from that itch in my arms for the wobbly heft of a newborn.
So what I think I'll try to do when I feel that urge to pass along my unsolicited parenting wisdom to some mother is to say what I really mean.
"Your baby is just so precious. Good luck"


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