We all have seen them. At the playdate with half of her nursery and a pack-and-play, just in case. She likely has told you multiple times her plans for teaching her child to read before age three and her foul-proof method for potty-training within 8 hours. She has a solution for every potential problem, ever, and has memorized the recipes for every homemade baby food puree on the world wide web. Did I mention her baby is 3 months old?
Did I mention that this mom was me?
Overcome by insecurity and desperate to convince everyone I wasn’t a complete and total failure, I became a researching autodidact. I spouted off random facts about child development and casually added to the conversations quotes from parenting books I had read.
I WAS THE WORST.
But, because of my experience and because of who I am now (slightly less psychotic), I can look back in gratitude on the gracious seasoned mothers around me who nodded and offered warm smiles in exchange for my soliloquy on the virtues of teaching toddlers empathy. Knowing that, now I vow to extend kindness to those seemingly over-confident (ahem, annoying) newbie mamas around. How do I do this?
- Affirm them in areas they are nailing it. If I notice a newbie mama has painted her nails, I commend her for looking so cute while managing a house with a new baby. If she has kept up on the latest sleep recommendations by the APA, I praise her for being so diligent to stay on top of information in keeping her child safe. She is doing her best and an awkward eyeroll is highly unnecessary.
- I did have a few “Doomsday” moms that liked to tell me all of my ideals for my children would never work once they became mobile, or became a toddler, or once we added more children (whatever season was just ahead). I just wanted to be heard. It wasn’t helpful to have someone crush my ideas just because I was annoying them.
- Only offer advice if she asks. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, unsolicited advice comes off as judgment 99% of the time. Maybe you tried that exact potty training method for which she is an evangelist and it was the worst experience imaginable. But, unless she asks you for advice, keep your two cents to yourself. Sure, mention you tried it. But no need in assuming she’s unwise or that her experience will be like yours.
In conclusion, be kind. Try and remember those days of uncertainty as a newbie mama yourself. And, be a friend.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.