So I was thinking about something yesterday. I know, stop the press! Why does it seem that the people who have the least knowledge or experience on a certain subject seem to be the people who offer the most advice on said subject? For example, everyone seems to be an "expert" on children and parenting. There is always someone, somewhere willing to tell anyone who will listen why his/her way is the best way. I’m all for helpful advice, especially from people who are in the exact same boat. However, what grates me is that people who don’t have children or who have limited experience around children seem to be the ones most often offering criticism on parenting and behavior and/or advice on parenting, whether it be potty training, discipline, sleep schedules, feeding schedules, etc. They act like they are somehow in the know because they once spoke to a child or their buddy has a child. Until you are in the trenches you really have no idea.
The other day I was sitting by the pool next to a new mother who had a 6-week-old baby. She and I were casually chitchatting about our kids, nothing real earth shattering. Basically commiserating about the lack of sleep and constant state of exhaustion being a parent entails. This other young woman (late 20’s/early 30’s) sitting on the other side of my new buddy joins the conversation, which was all well and good until she starts going on and on about parents (too lenient) and discipline (should be whipped with belts and wooden spoons) and when she’d start solids (4 weeks) and how she’d potty train (make them sit there until they go, whether they are developmentally ready or not) and how she’d never tolerate this, but would tolerate that, yada yada yada. To the untrained ear some might agree with a fraction of what she spewed. (Most of it appeared ignorant to me). However, any MOTHER knew she was full of shit…an imposter. Finally after the 10th time of her telling the new young mother that her child would sleep better if she started him on solids (despite the American Academy of Pediatrics advising that you don’t start solids until 6 MONTHS, not 6 WEEKS) this new young mother did what I wish every mother would do when being bombarded with unwelcome advice. She turned and looked at her and said in her sweetest voice, "Oh, is that what you did with your children?" She stammered, "Oh, no I don’t have any children. I hang out with my best friend’s little girl though…." Miss Buttinsky started to say something more until the sweet new mother interrupted her and said, "Well, until you do have children and have the opportunity to try out all your little theories and philosophies or until you become my pediatrician I think I’ll stick to the advice of what actual doctors recommend or what I feel is best for MY baby." I shot my margarita through my nose, I swear. It was the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. After she regained her composure and left I resumed my conversation with my new friend at which point she said, "I’m usually not that much of a bitch, but I couldn’t take it anymore."
Which brings me back to my point. Motherhood is all about trial and error. You try something. If it works you do it again; if it doesn’t you pitch it. The point is you won’t know until you have children of your own. It’s not the same with the neighbor kid or your friend’s kid or even your nieces and nephews. The dynamic of the relationship can never replicate that of mother and child. There are so many claiming to be experts on these subjects and many of these "experts" don’t have any legitimate experience. Even more irritating is that many of these people offering this advise don’t even claim to be experts yet they still somehow feel like their advice and suggestions merit an audience with women who actually have children.
I always have all of these clever, witty replies in my head ready to use if such advice is ever bestowed upon me. I imagine how the conversation will go and how my witty repartee will stop them dead in their tracks and slinking off with their tail between their legs. Unfortunately for me it always seem to happen to someone I know or some random person that I happen to overhear. Why can’t it happen to me, damn it!