the expert...

I wasn’t going to write about this on here, at first, but I feel like I have to get it out in writing. Writing has always helped me to get feelings out and is one of the reasons I love to blog.

Lately I have been having problems with people I consider friends and family, even close friends, who have really made me upset when it comes to the topic of raising children.

Don’t get me wrong; I greatly value people’s advice and especially value those who have helped me when I have asked for it. I am beyond thankful for those who have given me some great tips and ideas, or recommended a good book to read, or have said “Breastfeeding is tough at first, but don’t worry, you can do it!”

However, it seems that when you are the one pregnant, everyone else who has had a child turns into “the expert.” I’m sorry, but if you are a first time parent of a 6 month old, you are no expert at raising children. The only person I would consider a “know-it-all” when it comes to babies/kids is Michelle Duggar. Yet I am quite sure even she would tell you that every child is a different story, like her little Josie who was born extremely premature.

I know people say they can’t help giving their opinions on something, but I find that hard to believe. I’ve never told a friend how I think they should raise their child, though I pray for those friends who are not raising their children in a home full of God’s love, peace, and joy. I would never send anyone, at all, a text message telling them I didn’t like the name they had chosen for their child. Nor would I walk up to a random stranger in the baby section of a store and tell them what brand of burp cloths to use. I would never tell a friend of a friend, one whom I’ve never met, what kind of stroller, diaper, car seat, bathtub, washcloth, or anything else, to use. I guess I just have a bit more class than that, and I try my hardest to respect others’ ideas and opinions about children, even if I don’t agree.

I’m not sure why the fact that I have chosen to breastfeed and use cloth diapers (though not all the time) has suddenly made some think I am a liberal, feminist, “Save the Whales,” hippie-like, mama-to-be. I think breastfeeding is the most natural and wonderful gift that God gave to mothers to take care of their children. Besides, I am not rich – I cannot afford formula just because “breastfeeding is weird.” Second, I know an incredible amount of wonderful, Christian women who use/have used cloth diapers and have not gone overboard on environmental issues.

I’ve also been told that I am moody and hormonal because these things have made me upset. I’m also moody, according to some, because I don’t believe every old wives’ tale about having a boy or girl (I know plenty of people with morning sickness who had boys, and plenty of people whose belly poked straight out that had girls). I think that even if I wasn’t pregnant, this is something that would bother me. And it honestly does hurt that any friend would say something like this at all.

Right now, I am not enjoying being pregnant because I feel alone, except for my fantastic, sweetheart of a husband. I am longing for some loving friends who have the guts to admit they don’t know everything about raising a baby, that their child is not perfect, and that even if you raise a child in the most structured, calm, Christian home, not everything is going to go according to your expectations or plans.

I long for a friend who is willing to walk beside me during this time, not one who points their finger and says “Do it my way.”

I am praying God will send me a fellow Mommy who loves the Lord and wants her children to know Him, without making me feel as though I might do something wrong and prevent my children from knowing Christ.

I hope that after our precious baby is born, he or she keeps me humble. I hope that I don’t ever think that I am a perfect mother or that I have all the answers. I hope that if and when my child chooses The Way, Truth, and Life, I don’t take the glory because of how I raised him or her. I pray every day that God will give me the strength to provide everything my child needs while keeping Him at the center of it all.


Kathryn said...

Wow what a great post! I so agree with you, and have had similar problems! The best advice I got was this: Everyone is going to try and give you their own advice, but YOU have to do what is best for you and your baby. Basically take what you front from them, but do what you need to do. Hope things get better!

Stacia said...

I was actually going to post some advice on breastfeeding the other day but decided that just becuase this or that did or didn't work for me doesn't me you shouldn't try it and see if it works for you. For now I will say that I applaued you for breastfeeding; I did it with both my girls and loved it.
As for cloth diapers, you go girl! I know me and just couldn't go that route but I'm happy that their are women out there who can.
My girls are 7 and 5 and I know that I don't know everything, in fact I have been praying ALOT for God to guide me with my oldest when it comes to things like school and friends and even what and when to say something to her about sex! Becuase I don't know everything I tend to wait for other mothers to ask for my advcie instead of just blurting out my two cents.
You'll be a great mother and if you do have any questions I'll be glad to help you!
God bless

Sara said...

thanks Kathryn and Stacia!

Dana-from chaos to Grace said...

I breastfed all 3 of my children and I LOVED it! No, in the beginning it wasn't easy, but it was always some dumb thing I was doing wrong and when I fixed it, everything was PERFECT! I was a LONG nurser too which people always had to make comments about.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first, I had a lady tell me to STOP drinking all liquids, then I'll get dehydrated and go into labor. Umm. What? Why don't I just get hit by a bus? LOL How does that HELP me? He wasn't even DUE for another month!

This is MY friendly advice to you, the new mother: smile and nod. Then do whatever you want to do. Everything has their own trial and error period, it's what new mothers do, it's our "thing". We research, we pray, and then we do whatever we feel is BEST for our own children. And ya know what? If it doesn't work, then we just TRY something else. You'll be fine.

And if all that stuff makes you a liberal hippie, no one told me! HAHA I'm totally conservative and just wanted what was best for MY baby. And all 3 have turned out beautifully.

My only REAL advice: date night (even if that means bringing baby along to be nursed LOL) and take LOTS of pictures of your babies!

Aprille said...

hey girl...I keep forgetting to check your blog! Anyway...glad you are staying away from facebook for a while even though I miss you tons. If you ever need a friend just text me 270-319-2392. :)

Kelly Lawson said...

Hey girl. Hang in there. Try to remember the intention behind most of what people share-- chances are, they love being a mom, and may be sad that their baby days are over. They love that they've been able to maneuver their way through mommyhood and just want to share their wisdom. They may be trying to relive their baby days through you-- things they thought were great, things they wished they'd done differently, etc. It can get exhausting to hear opinion after opinion over and over again. Just try to remember that MOST of the time it comes from a place where they just want to share in your excitement. Some people are just worse than others at keeping their excitement coming from a good place!

You are going to be a great mom. You and Paul will find what works best for YOUR family and you will thrive in it!

Knowing how to graciously "accept" unsolicited advice and establish our family boundaries has been the hardest part of parenting. But we're really settled into it now and I hardly ever find myself worrying about what other people say. There's hope, Sara!

Anonymous said...

:( I sincerely hope that I wasn't one of the "experts" because Lord knows I still need help! ;)
I'm here for you as always. I can't breastfeed so I can understand how the comments hurt. I get that every time some asks why I don't... Or when I see the billboards saying how great it is. I would have loved to, though.
Even now with Ben being my 2nd kiddo I still get advice. Just the other day I was getting some new nipples for his bottles and I had a lady (who had no kids with her) tell me that I shouldn't use that brand for one reason or another... I just pretended I couldn't hear her. (Mostly because I wasn't in the best of moods and was afraid the words coming out of my mouth wouldn't be very Christian.) But I've rambled on enough. You have my cell number which is with me 90% of the time. If you need me, I'm here! :)

Sara said...

Stephanie, you were not even close to trying to be an "expert"! you are always so sweet and kind and i've never heard a rude thing come out of your mouth (on FB or anywhere else!)...it's only been a few people who have behaved this way toward me, and at least one of them has apologized...what happened on FB was only a small part of everything...the emails and text messages i've gotten are ridiculous! anyway, you should NEVER let anyone make you feel bad about not being able to breastfeed; your babies are healthy, and from what i have seen, extremely happy! :) i will call you soon! <3

Mother of Danger and Jubilation said...

I've been thinking about how to respond to this for a while, since I was one of the people who left some advice on your post on Facebook about what baby stuff is necessary/not necessary, and I wasn't sure if I was one of the people who hurt you, but if I was, it definitely wasn't my intention.

Anyway, I've been struggling with strong feelings of inadequacy as a parent, pretty much since the babies were born, but increasing the past few weeks for a variety of reasons. I breastfed my son exclusively for 3 months, and he was underweight the entire time. I went and saw lactation consultants, read all the information I could find about it, but I still just could not produce enough. When the lactation consultant finally suggested I start using formula after he lost weight one week, I was devastated...I think that started the whole thing. When my daughter was born, I breastfed for less than a week. My husband was deploying, and I just couldn't deal with the stress of both things without serious mental and emotional consequences. Talk about guilt...I was personally responsible for NOT giving my daughter the best start in life.

I thought I was over all that, but now my son, 27 months old, is incredibly strong-willed. We try to be consistent with discipline and firm with him, but anytime we go anywhere, he is the worst behaved child in the room. Over two years old, and he doesn't talk...I have friends with one year olds who talk more than he does. And my one year old seems to be following in his footsteps, I'm lucky if she says "dada."

Anyway, all this to say, you won't be a perfect parent, despite good intentions. I'm fairly convinced that ALL mothers deal with feelings of inadequacy (though maybe not to the degree I do), and they make up for that by being "the expert" to all other new mothers. You know, makes us feel like we are actually good moms, and that we do have something to share and something to prove that we aren't total failures.

Maybe I'm just feeling cynical. Maybe it's not that at all. I don't know.

Sara said...

Carly, i am going to say the same thing to you as i did Stephanie...you have NEVER been rude to me or come across as a know it all - you are one of my favorite people from CMW and i think you are an AWESOME awesome Mom!!! your comments did not make you seem like you were trying to be an expert about anything, and your words were not rude and did not make me feel upset AT ALL! i would never in a million years say that if you did not breastfeed, you were a bad Mom...i think that you have given Sammy and Jubee the BEST life you possibly can, and the way you have taken care of them through all the junk you've been through, especially as a military wife, is beyond most women's abilities! i am proud of you and i love seeing the updates of the kids on FB!!! and i love ya, too :)

Barbee said...

Hey sweet friend, well I was just checking up on you to see how things were going and read your post. I agree with Kelly, most people are just trying to help...usually. But I also agree that it starts to take a toll on you. When I was pregnant people used to always say to me,"aren't you so tired of being pregnant?" or after he was born, "don't you just wish he could go back in your belly?" what are you kidding me?? I loved being pregnant, and I love having my sweet boy! I think most people project what they felt during their pregnancy/birth whatever, on you and assume that everyone feels that way.
If you can try to let it roll off your back and do what you know is best for you and lovie! Just trust that God gives you the knowledge and discernment that you need to be a wonderful mother! And, Don't worry there are tons of breastfeeding-cloth diaper-moms out there so you aren't alone! I wanted to do cloth diapers, but J didn't want to mess with the poop! :) So I am actually jealous that you are using cloth diapers...so there!
Love you! hang in there!