One of the toughest things about parenting is that you are always surrounded by advice.
Note that I chose the words "toughest" and "surrounded" intentionally. Both of them.
Sometimes the advice is given: solicited and not.
People, seeing that you are one-handing a stroller, tackling an exuberant doesn't-realize-she-is-only-two-year-old, and keeping your "I WANT TO YELL" voice to just a "HOLY CRAP THIS IS MY FRUSTRATED" voice when you remind the four year old that he does, indeed, know how to put on his shoes. No he didn't forget how. No, it doesn't hurt his arms. Yes, indeed, sir, you need to do it yourself. (As does your sister, but that's another story).
Yes, we've tried charts and stickers.
We've encourage independence, we've coddled.
We've rewarded, we've taken away.
We've basically taken all your parenting advice,
And the advice of the guy across the street that is totally opposite? We've taken his too.
And the baby? Yes, I'm giving him a bottle, no, don't worry about my milk supply (ps: nunya). Yes, he's big. Yes, he has neck cheese. No, he's never going to be able to roll with that gigantic head.
Those people, have coaching opinions.
And then the surrounding.
The times that you google "postpartum hair loss", and "milk supply" and "social skills and 'four year old'" and "is xyz developmentally appropriate" and "when does abc end and jlk begin, and holy crap, who told me about pqr"?
The internet. It has ALL the advice.
And this make-you-crazy advice I've freaking subjected myself to.
Because you know what? We aren't actually breaking these babies and kids. They are fairly well-adjusted, kind most of the time, eat a vegetable or two, and are capable (if not willing) of putting on their own shoes.
And then comes that day when you are taking a lovely walk at the Arboretum with an equally lovely first time Mom, and she gives the parenting advice that makes you stop in your tracks.
Someone told her, this lovely, zen, Irish first time mama, "treat your first like he's your third".
I'll say it again
"Treat your first like he's your third".
And the freaking AHA light goes off.
There's a reason that I laugh that those new Luvs commercials.
I hate cheesy Mom commercial, but these? They nail them.
I have handed the baby to near strangers with a "can you just hold him for a second" while I find my keys/wallet/bag/phone. (Maybe not the mechanic, but yes near strangers who don't know my last name and only ocassionally pronounce my first name correctly.)
I've parked him with awesome school staff when I run upstairs to get the kid at school.
I let him cry for 5 minutes (secret: sometimes ten), so I can get a shower.
I'm actually breastfeeding this time around because I'm not all crazy in my head and for some reason it's working. And I'm also feeding formula bottles too because I'm not all crazy in my head and for some reason it is working.
And I'm not surreptitiously mixing those formula bottles in the car because of fear of judgy judy.
I'm choosing the "fast" bottles over the slower ones for those middle of the night feeds, because, ya'll, I'm tired!
I'm counting oatmeal cookies as oatmeal when trying to work on my milk supply.
I'm allocating tomatoes as vegetable servings for the big kids,
I moved the baby to his room already because I know I need to sleep to be a good parent.
I'm investing heavily in the Costco prepared foods aisle.
I'm wiping spit ups on my sleeve, the baby's blanket... basically whatever is available.
I'm greatly congratulating myself on the days I shower BEFORE school drop off. But also not getting a darn on those days that the jammie-pants-that-you-call-yoga-pants-to-feel-better-about-it are worn all day.
My most hit upon (non-infertility) related posts on this blog are about how parenting is hard. (See: "Zazoo" http://palmettobaby.blogspot.com/2011/10/zazoo.html , and "It Gets Better" http://palmettobaby.blogspot.com/2011/10/it-gets-better.html
The lesson learned?
TALK ABOUT HOW HARD IT IS... and then let it go, and find your "third kid" place.
So let's not make each other crazy. Let's give some good old practical advice like my wise Irish friend.
Worry about the things that matter. All the other things will fall into place.
What you got?
James is listening. And ya'll?
He's not suffering.
Not even a little.