Monday, April 20, 2009

I can do it all myself!

From the day a woman sees the two pink lines on a positive pregnancy test, it starts. Unsolicited advice. Also known as “assvice” (a personal favorite description of mine). For some odd reason, everyone from the grocery store clerk, the mailman, the strange old lady gassing up her car to your Aunt Edna will give you any and all advice they can come up with on how to raise your own child.

“Don’t hold them too much. You’ll spoil them.”

“Make sure to start feeding them rice cereal in the bottle when they are born so they start sleeping through the night.”

“Put some socks on that baby! It’s 80 degrees out and his feet will get cold!”

Then there’s the parenting choice debates: Formula feeding versus breast feeding, to cry it out or not, to vaccinate or not, to sleep on their back or their stomach – really, the list is almost endless.

I never understood why everyone else cared so much about how I (or any other mother for that matter) took care of my children. Why was it anyone else’s business? Why did people think I was so incapable of figuring it out on my own? This was the aspect that bothered me the most. I am a figure-it-out-on-my-own kind of person. I have always been that way and I will be this way forever. I readily admit that Google is one my life essentials next to air, food and coffee. I hate to ask for help and you know if I do ask, then I must really need it. I think most everyone that I associate with knows this about me and while they still offer help, they are not offended when I turn it down. Well, most of them anyway.

Everyone with the exception of my Mother-in-law.

Mothering techniques have evolved over the years. When my husband and I were babies, there were no such things as car seats, outlet covers or properly spaced crib slats and nobody dared to question the advice of their pediatrician. Everyone just did as they were told, no ifs, ands or buts. New mothers depended heavily on their own mothers, their mother-in-laws and their grandmothers (if they were still alive). The “it takes a village” philosophy was strong. And then? We entered the age of information.

Technology changed everything, even motherhood. We became connected to medical websites, parenting circles grew and we found mothers all over the world experiencing the same challenges with their children of the same age. We are able to find the most up-to-date information on how to raise our children at the click of the mouse and the old child-rearing advice passed down from generation to generation fell by the wayside (like giving a baby Karo syrup for constipation). I think technological evolution has hurt some feelings. At least it has in our family, anyway.

While the “assvice” still comes from random people and I just blankly smile and nod while trying my best not to blurt out “mind your own business” (which has actually happened before – another story for another time), the fact that I don’t follow what has been done for generations, or acted like a helpless child when trying to care for my babies has ruffled some feathers. My “I can do it on my own” (or “I can do it all myself!” as my older son likes to say) attitude combined with being born in the age of information has not been the ideal combo for those who expected to be apart of the “information from the village”. I think a lot of moms in this generation may be in the same situation. Technology has changed not only the way we mother, but the way we relate to older generations in regard to parenting.

My feeling is that older generations take offense to technology and the evolution of motherhood because it may seem like they were doing it wrong years ago when nobody knew any better. There may have been certain expectations of involvement that aren’t being met or communicated about. At any rate, the internet has become the divider in some families. Somehow, being self-reliant has become an insult and disrespectful.

I think it would help if people thought about motherhood like any other relationship. It’s going to change. It’s going to get better. When you get married, your relationship changes and evolves over the years. When you grow up with siblings, your relationships change as you mature. Motherhood is just like that and when you add different personalities or ways of doing things and the decade that we live in now – it’s not your mother’s way of doing things.


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