Tuesday, July 16, 2013

From a Novice

I just read a blog post that gives some very good advice to "experienced moms". (Seriously, stop right here, click on "blog post", & go read it.) Here's one part that really resonated with me:  "The next time you're tempted to write off a friend's parenting stage or struggle, listen empathetically without relating or comparing her problems to your own."  I can tell you, from a new mother's point of view, I have found this to be needed advice. Especially the italicized portion above. And not even just when a new mom is struggling. I personally haven't received a lot of understanding or support from some of my "mom" friends since Emma came along. Because of that, here are some other tips that this new mom would like to pass along (plus it's good to have this written down to remind myself, lest I forget):

-Everyone parents differently, so please don't judge or look down on me for not doing it like you.

-Every child achieves milestones at different rates, so don't freak me out by saying (with furrowed brow & worried voice), "She hasn't done ____ yet?"  (That's one reason I loved What To Expect the First Year so much, because each chapter starts out saying this.)

-Remember, sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. Just with a change in your tone, the same words can either encourage or discourage me. 

-Every child has a different temperament, so don't say with certainty that she's going to do or be like this. That may have been your experience with your child, but it may not happen that way for us.

-Building on the last few points, remember that I'm not in competition with you, nor is my child in competition with yours. So there's no need to "relate or compare" your situation & children to mine.

-Every mom has a different temperament, so I may not be comfortable with the same things you are. Please don't belittle me or make me feel odd.

-Everything about motherhood is wondrous & new to me, & I'm going to want to learn a lot for myself. Sometimes I'll come to you for sage advice, but most of the time I'll want you to be my friend, not my guide.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've had many wonderful interactions with my "mom friends". We've traded "my child did this" stories & "has he done this?" or "how do you deal with this?" conversations. We've had a lot of fun & laughter. But I have also come up against a lot more judgement than I expected, & it's hurt a couple of friendships because I didn't want to walk away from yet another conversation feeling like I'm doing it all wrong, so I stopped pursuing the relationship. So, I guess that's the reason I'm writing this post, because none of us really wants it to be like that, & the good news is it doesn't have to be.