I once read a quote about all parenting advice you once had, going out the window once you actually had kids. I wish for the sake of this entry I could remember the quote, or who wrote it, but I’m not the most organized person on a good day. Anyway, I found this to be particularly amusing as Mike and I had many discussions throughout the years of how we'll parent. Not only that, but most (if not all) ended with the incredibly naive assumption that everything will go according to plan. While I have applied some of our theories (like tricking Isla into thinking applesauce is the junkiest junk-food around), most are laughable now that I look back. For instance, I remember saying that I would never tiptoe around when the kids are asleep. After all, how would they avoid becoming light sleepers if they didn't get used to someone vacuuming beside their heads during a nap? Mike agreed with me on this one – that is until Isla was born. Isla, though wonderful right from the moment of conception, was not an easy baby. WHEN she would finally fall asleep, Mike and I would transform into ninjas, terrified to make even the slightest sound which might wake her. Not that she had ever demonstrated that she was a light sleeper; it was just too risky to test her limitations. So each and every time she would fall asleep, there we were, trying desperately to not make a sound beyond inhaling and exhaling. Of course, much like when you’re trying to hurry and only end up slowing yourself down, staying quiet is virtually impossible. It’s times like these I would accidentally knock the broom over and, in a desperate attempt to catch it before it clangs onto the tile, end up kicking it mid-air and, like a javelin, it would end up firing into the glass door. That scenario has taken place several times, I swear. You would think I'd learn to stop trying to sweep during "quiet time", but I rarely learn from my mistakes. It's a wonder the door is still in tact.
Then there’s Sophie (anyone with a baby knows exactly who I’m talking about). She’s a little rubber giraffe equipped with an internal squeaker; extremely popular with the infant demographic. I don’t know she how does it, but Sophie always manages to find her way onto my chair or under my feet. When I inevitably sit or stand on her, she screams her little head off for the duration it takes for her to fill back up with air. It’s anything but quiet and always seems to happen when I’m tiptoeing around the house during the much anticipated (by me) afternoon nap. Anyway, that was a bit of tangent. The point is I didn’t realize know how difficult it would be once there was actually a sleeping child upstairs to carry on as if there weren’t one. Since nap-time is really the only time I can get anything done, I try my hardest not to disrupt the kids. Of course now that I have two, the whole concept is out the window. Isla won’t sleep in the afternoon and, bless her little heart, instead sings at the top of her lungs until I come and get her. Since her room is beside Sam’s, I’ve had to stagger their naps. Can’t win 'em all, I guess. Much like the "sleep when they sleep" theory; if you're a mother and have managed to followed this advice, I'm thoroughly impressed. Trust me, I've tried; but the anxiety of waking up to 17 loads of laundry keeps me from achieving the much-needed rest. In spite of this I still find myself passing this same advice on to others. I just make sure to include how impossible it is, and it seems to ease a bit of the associated pressure. It's almost become sarcastic advice, sharing a category with such gems as “make sure your kids don't watch TV until they're two". HA! Clearly the genius who thought that one up did not have kids at the time. If not for the delightfully captivating antics of Mickey and friends, I would never shower.
While unsolicited advice comes from a sincere place (I would hope), it can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming for mothers – especially new mothers. There’s this fear that we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing, but really who knows what is right and wrong? My advice to new mothers, unsolicited I suppose, is that they should do what feels right. Every baby is different, just as every mother is different. Also try to remember not to take out your frustration on the poor soul who offered their two cents. After all, they’re just trying to help. Unless of course it’s that friend; you know the one I’m talking about. We all seem to have one and probably by age 30 have weeded her out of the circle. She’s the one who apparently just can't help herself and, probably due to a combination of insecurity and a lack of self-awareness, seems to always be in passive-aggressive-critic mode. She’s the one who will mention, in a light tone to suggest a joke (but you know it’s not) the calorie count of the glass of wine you’re trying to enjoy. Rule of thumb: when it comes to wine, back off! Everyone knows those calories don’t count. Like chocolate, sometimes you just need a glass of wine. And by sometimes, I mean most times. They are calories for the soul and not meant to be counted. Don’t listen to that friend; she probably has no idea how she comes across and would be devastated if you shared with her your internal commentary while she states, time and again, what's on her mind. In her defence, she may suffer from that self-declared ‘missing filter’ syndrome I mentioned in a previous blog (although I still think that’s basically just a polite way of saying “I’m ignorant”). Regardless of the reasons why, this friend is exhausting and everything feels like a competition. She probably calls you fat, without actually calling you fat, on a daily basis. She likely implies you’re a crappy mother, and that she’s better than you in every way. My advice if you haven’t yet weeded her out: do so immediately. People like that will give you an ulcer and, trust me, if you’re a mother you don’t have time for stomach ailments. Life is too short.
While we're on the topic of 'unsolicited advice', in spite of my brief tangent, I have to offer one tidbit I wish someone had given me: do not choose lottery numbers. Mike and I did this several years ago, with some minor variations to reflect the birthdays of our children. Now that we have these "winning numbers" (which have proven to actually be losing numbers), I can't pass by the lottery kiosk at the grocery store without having heart palpitations. You see, I’m not much of a gambler and I rarely buy lottery tickets. Unfortunately now since I chose these numbers, if they win I will obviously have to drive my car off of a bridge. Of course I'm not being serious because life is about so much more than money; but can you imagine your numbers winning on the day you didn't buy a ticket? Unless you're going to subscribe and play each time; do not torture yourself with the "OMG I hope my numbers didn't win" weekly panic attack. It’s the worst. The lotto 649 commercials don’t help as I would love to quit my job (I love being a paramedic, but not that much) and live on a private tropical island. Talk about a mind “F”.