JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Guilty as charged

March 6th, 2004 · 1 Comment

This week I’ve been doing some painful reading. I’ve been recognizing myself in what I’ve read: Hey, I’ve thought that! I’ve said that. I’ve done that. Oh. Oops.

One place where I’ve received some correction has been dooce’s My Unsolicited Advice:

Throughout the nine months of my pregnancy Jon and I were warned constantly by other parents to enjoy sleeping while we could. Many of our friends even suggested that we stock up on sleep, as if it were something you could seal in a Ziploc bag and toss into the freezer, something you could warm up in the microwave and mix with a little creamer on the nights when the baby refuses to sleep. I’d really like to smack those parents right about now because not only was that particular piece of advice unsolicited, it also wasn’t helpful at all. You can’t store sleep in your jowls for the long winter ahead, so just stop patronizing soon-to-be parents with that absurd suggestion. Just say what you mean, which is Your life is going to be miserable and I will take great pleasure in seeing you squirm.

Yes, that’s me. The one offering unsolicited advice to those with pregnant bellies. Yes, I’ve recommended “stocking up on sleep”. To my third-trimester friends, I’ve said: “sleep while you can”. Guilty as charged. Ouch. I’m sorry.

Whenever a friend is pregnant, it’s all I can do to button my lips and keep myself from spilling out my wealth of advice. I have to control my desires to pack up a big box of books, creams and various necessities and send it in the mail. Me, the Mom Who Knows Everything. Well, I don’t know everything. There’s quite a bit I’ve never experienced. Like a C-section. Or colic. Or, say, a boy baby.

But I feel such a compulsion to share what I learned, what I wish others had told me, what I would have done differently if I could do it all over. I think about those moments in the middle of the night when I asked, “why didn’t anyone tell me about this?” The vow I made to spare all and any other pregnant moms from suffering the same fate. From making the same mistakes I made.

It’s the pain – and the pride – in me that make me want to babble on about baby preparations. As if I could prepare another mom for what is about to happen to her. Each mother has her own story. Her own lessons to learn. While I believe in childbirth classes and books, I believe in learning and preparing, I also now realize that each mom has her own lessons. It’s an individualized education, not a mass experience, this university of maternity.

Joy and pain are what we have in common as mothers. But nearly everything else can be different. Some moms can feed their babies as if they were born cows, milk machines, while others struggle and wrestle. Some moms heal quickly, pushing a cart around Costco on their way home from the hospital, while other moms have trouble walking for weeks.

So who am I to assume my advice is needed? I’m happy to offer if asked. But in the meantime, I’ll keep quiet. I’ll let moms learn their own lessons. It’s part of the process. It’s part of becoming a mom: mistakes, midnight moments and all.

Tags: motherhood

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 tania // Mar 7, 2004 at 9:14 pm

    what are you talking about? it’s our right as mothers to share and carry on the stories and traditions! i loved my unsolicited advice ( except from family : ) i thrived on other’s experience, i would never had survived without them! but that’s me i guess 🙂