Mother Nature came knocking today and brought us a very cold and blustery day. She’s reminding me that yet another year has almost slipped through my fingers. It makes me reflect on so much and think about whether or not I was able to keep some things from passing by at warp speed.
I’m a grandmother now, and got to be a huge part of that little angel’s first Halloween yesterday. She spent half a day at my office and was definitely the belle of the monster’s ball. My cheeks still hurt from smiling all day as I watched her tug at everyone’s heart strings. I am definitely a proud gramma.
But I’m even more proud to be a mother. I look at that beautiful woman who blessed me with the title of “mom” and I am just as much in awe of her today as I was the moment that I first held her. Despite any of the hiccups that came with raising my child, the only thing that I would change (if I could) would be me. I wish that I had done a few things differently in raising her. What’s done is done, so I try not to reminisce on the negative, but instead revel in the incredible bond and friendship that I have with this young woman.
I stood back and watched her with all of my coworkers yesterday and I am definitely a proud mamma. My introverted little girl is blossoming into a well-spoken and gracious young woman. It’s not her nature, so she works very hard to be a people person. One of the things that I am most proud of is how she handles herself when society tries to tell her how to raise her child.
All parents have gone through it and we’ve read a million articles about the Nosey-Nellies and Neds—the well-meaning members of society that know how to raise your child better than you.
While my daughter was pregnant, I sat her down and gave her a warning about it so that she could do her best not to eat anyone alive when they offered their helpful tips (her star sign can tend to be a bit aggressive). My advice to her was:
“As a mother you will undoubtedly receive unsolicited feedback from now until the end of your days on how to raise your child. Please do your best to take it all with a grain of salt and know that you could be thirty-five and on your fourth child and they will still offer the advice. Try to smile, say thank-you, and put only what you need into your ‘shopping cart’ of motherhood.”
I was married at a young age and subsequently had my daughter at a young age as well. The internet didn’t exist, so I could not lean on Google to tell me how to raise my child. I had to actually—are you ready for this?—read books! I’ve tried to explain to my daughter that those are those strange things with floppy pieces of paper stuck together and letters all over them. She cocks her head and looks at me with a perplexed curiosity at this strange item that I keep referring to.
“Books? What are these strange things you keep talking about? Are they from one of those mythical tales that we hear about? Like unicorns, dragons or 8-track tapes?”
Okay, maybe that conversation never happened, but sometimes it feels that way. To be honest, I’m glad that Auntie Google is there to give her help when she needs it. But back to my point—shopping carts.
Two weeks ago we went to buy my granddaughter’s Halloween costume and decided not to take her in with her car seat and stroller because the store was very busy and crowded with Halloween stock. I was holding her so that my daughter could use both hands to hunt. As I stood there, a well-meaning lady in her sixties (complete with a very thick European accent) approached me and began oohing and ahhing over my granddaughter.
“How old is she?”
“Just over five and half months.”
“She’s so happy and so strong.”
“Yes, she’s always smiling and, yes, she’s very strong.”
“You know, you shouldn’t let her sit up for very long. She should be lying down.”
Insert stunned silence.
“Um yes, I know. She’s been in her car seat all day. I just took her out to bring her in here now.”
I’m a young grandmother, so people always assume that I am the baby’s mother, but I’m not that young looking. How does she know that this isn’t my seventh child? Why does she assume that I don’t know how to raise her? Why did I feel the need to justify myself to a complete stranger who will have no bearing on my life whatsoever past this brief exchange? Why didn’t I take my own sage advice? Why didn’t I just smile and say thank-you?
I do my best to live my life with a “shopping cart” mentality for almost everything. What that means is, when you’re at the grocery store, you don’t have to put everything in your cart—only what you need or want at that time. You can always go back for something else later. This applies to information, advice or opinions on politics, religion, finances, and, especially, child rearing. Take what won’t fit in your cart and put it up on your mental shelf for when you have space or a need for it later. It’s as simple as that.
After my run-in with the Baby Whisperer at the Halloween store, I guess my advice to my daughter (and my shopping cart method analogy) is sometimes easier said than done.
So as I stare out at the now-falling snow flakes, I reflect upon what I learned from my latest life experience.
- It’s okay to let a stranger toss an unwanted item into my shopping cart of life. I can afford it and it won’t kill me.
- I have more respect for my daughter for how she so graciously deals with unsolicited guidance.
And most importantly:
- I need to walk-the-walk instead of just talking-the-talk—I must work harder at heeding my own advice.
Whatever happened to the good ole days when I was eighteen and knew everything? I guess I just have to keep on learning.