Friday, October 06, 2006

Why Do I Care So Much What Other People Think?

I really hate it that I take in so deeply what people say sometimes. Especially family. You know how it is. Well, maybe you don't. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only freak who can't just tell people to DEAL with me and my choices. Or at least just get myself not take their comments so personally.

Lately due to conversations with various folks, and on some issues from conversations over time, I feel like lots of people disapprove of my mothering ways, all the way from prenatal care and birth choices to potty training and discipline. Of course that's true - no two people do these things exactly alike, and everyone has their own opinion. But what I don't get is why it's so very important for people, especially people in older generations (yes, I'm griping about my own mother), to point out very finger-shakingly exactly where Sweet Pea has issues and tell me what I should do about it.

Besides the fact that I KNOW where we have issues, all kids are different, parents make different parenting choices from the way they were raised, and, perhaps most importantly, Sweet Pea is THREE YEARS old. So you're freakin' nuts if you think she is going to have perfect table manners. And I don't necessarily believe that my siblings and I were all potty trained by 18 months, but even if we were, it wasn't because we were ready. I have a much more laid-back approach to these things than the way they were done back in the day, and y'know what? THAT'S OKAY.

I'm kvetching about this because I'm frustrated to notice that after my mom calls and gives me pointers ("She really should be using the potty by now;" "She needs to eat at the table for every meal," etc.), which, by the way, I didn't ask for, I find that I am much harder on Sweet Pea. I get very short with her and feel as if I'm a failure as a mother because MY mother isn't happy with her progress.

When in fact, Sweet Pea is a good girl. She has a thing lately about dragging everything out forever, but she can be pushed and steered when need be with a minimum of crying, and over all she minds decently, and she is a happy, nice (except for the bug-squishing tendency) girl who loves her mommy and "her" baby (poor Daddy - but I really believe that if he were around more she would tell him that she loves him too).

At least Slipshod's mom is nice about this stuff. She points out Sweet Pea's goodness and accomplishments and says that we should be proud of our little muchkin.

But my point was, WHY do I even let this crap bother me so much? I hate that I take it in so easily and doubt myself so easily, when if I really sit down and think about it I know that the choices I've made for my daughter and how to raise her are right for us. There are definitely areas where I'm flailing, but isn't that true of every parent? I never give myself enough credit. Every so often I have to remind myself that besides what I already said about knowing that my choices are right for us, nobody else lives with us - nobody else actually knows the way we interact daily. So basically, when they're offering very specific advice, they're talking out their asses. I've gotta remember that. Maybe I'd be able to laugh it off more easily and not let it sink in if I use that "imagine them in their underwear" trick - only in this case, if I imagine butts with eyes. Okay, that's gross. But it sure would make me think about taking unsolicited advice so deeply to heart!

Oh, and for the record, if you're one of those folks who thinks that because I believe in homebirth I think everyone else should, you're wrong. I do think it is unfortunate that a very large portion of American society is completely oblivious to the option of homebirth. I also believe that a mother must choose the birthing place option that makes her feel the safest and most comfortable. If that's in a hospital, so be it. Birth center? Right on. If you don't feel like you're safe, you're probably not going to have the experience you're hoping for.


Christina said...

I know how you feel. My mom is always harping on me that Cordy should be sitting at the table to eat, should be interested in potty training and should be using a spoon and fork by now. She doesn't, and isn't in a rush to. I'm thrilled that we haven't hit the "I'll do it on my own" phase yet, truthfully.

I think it's just a different generation. They did things their way, and expect us to do the same.

Stahl family said...

I've missed you Caroline! Welcome back to the land of the living! Now, settle in and let me know when I can come see you! :)

Nevermind your mother either! Your babies are only going to be little right now in this moment. Savor their idiosyncrasies (did I spell that right?) because life will beat it out of them soon enough. (OK..that might be a little depressing) But there is plenty of time for proper table manners and peeing in the potty. AND you don't get to give birth very often in our short lives, so have the experience YOU want!

Dana said...

This is so very dejavu for me. My mom is the SAME WAY. I never do anything right in her eyes regarding Dawson.

I just don't get it. Some of the things she tells me to do are so outdated and crazy, I often wonder how she raised four children.

When my mom nags at me, I take it personal, too. It's different with my mother-in- law. She's a dream! she neever butts in or nags. My husband thinks it's because we're more civil to in-laws because we don't want to overstep the boundaries. With our own parents there are no boundaries.

I think we just need to let some of this stuff go in one ear and out the other, but it's so much easier said than done! I'll be the first to admit it!