Okay, I have been mother to the coolest person in the world for almost seven months. Six months, three weeks, and one day to be exact. Approximately 1, 248 hours. More than 74, 880 minutes. I am her primary caregiver. I feed her, change her, comfort her, play with her, teach her, take her to and from daycare, and then I start all over again. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is very helpful, but when the crying starts, I’m the first one on the scene.
As we’ve traipsed through these joyous days of watching my little baby become the amazing person she is, we’ve dealt with the NICU, four allergic reactions, two colds, and one flu (how many of you were expecting a partridge in a pear tree?). We’ve experienced, rolling, crawling, three teeth, lots of talking, and one word. Add in experiencing all of this in the presence of three dogs who “only want to help,” and you’ve got yourself a busy household.
Accompanying all of this is a myriad of helpful-minded people with advice, suggestions, and even a handful of reprimands. I actually welcome all of this. I am in the bittersweet position of living far away from almost everyone, so I can hear the advice and suggestions, learn from it, but not necessarily follow it. I have one aunt in particular who almost always knows of something knew they’ve discovered that will poison a baby that I really should rid my household and the greater Dallas area of immediately, but she comes with the saving grace of being very funny and admitting her own neuroses.
My mother and grandmother also come with their own little barrel of advice, but luckily there was another baby born in my family only five years ago, so they’ve learned a trick or two. Lesson Number One: Always precede your suggestion with, “Do you want me to tell you what I did in that situation?” That and about a thousand miles of interstate between us makes for a harmonious relationship.*
We’ve also got daycare teachers, innocent-minded friends, random ladies in the grocery store, other parents at daycare, and older women at church who are all busy paving that road with their good intentions of help. Help, of course, coming in the verbal form of advice. I take all of this, I use some of it, and the rest I offer to my husband as the funny part of our “What did you do today” conversation. (Really, who puts pepper in a baby’s bottle to help with sinus problems?)
So here is my question to other mothers and women at large: when am I no longer new? Okay, so I haven’t had a second baby, and my daughter is only almost seven months old. For the moment, I understand that I’m still new. But when does that stop? When does advice begin coming to me through the happy-dappy filter of being an intermediate parent? More importantly, when will people stop writing off my preferences for my baby as the overbearing insecurities of a “new” parent?
Yes, I really do want my daughter to wear a onesie AND pajamas to bed. No, that won’t change for a while. No, I won’t let my daughter come to your house. Yes, it is because you smoke indoors. Yes, I really do insist on having the fire department install the carseat base every.single.time. Yes, I am going to go so far as to say that a 6’2″ man weighing in at over 250 lbs. whose job entails lifting large, heavy things including other people from burning buildings on a regular basis is likely to be significantly stronger than me.
Sorry, folks, I’m overprotective by nature. It’s in my genes. I’m twenty-five years old and the days of my mother offering to hold my hand in the parking lot have yet to come to an end.
I’m just saying.
*This is where I would like to note that I do miss my mother all the time, and I do feel badly that she does not get to spend more time with her favorite (read: only) grandbaby. She really is an excellent granny, and we would probably get along very well if we lived closer together. Hi Mom!