Advice Is Hard To Swallow!
Q. For various reasons, I’ve chosen not to breast feed my baby. But some friends and even my mother-in-law keep hounding me about my decision. Help!
A. Welcome to motherhood. There’s just something about a pregnant woman or a mother of a young child that is like a magnet for criticism and unwanted guidance. It’s a green light for people to unleash all of their pent-up judgments and outdated advice. And so often it’s the people who have never had children themselves doling it out, which is like Donald Trump giving hair advice to Vidal Sassoon.
The beauty of being a new mother is that it is your baby and you do not owe any of these people any kind of explanation. But sometimes coming up with a beefy excuse helps to set
tle the matter indefinitely. Now really go for it here: Maybe you can’t breast feed because you have no nipples (birth defect) or that you have had your breast milk analyzed and it is toxic (Japan) or that those are not your breasts at all (so sad)... Whatever you come up with, as long as it stings, it should do the trick. Merely mentioning any of these key phrases should stop breast feeding talk dead in its tracks: methamphetamines, electro-shock therapy or mad cow disease.
And just so you know, this is only the beginning. You will be forced to defend every decision you make regarding your children at one time or another, which is why we all know our pharmacists by their first names.
There’s always an aunt or cousin or neighbor who knows better than you what you should do with your children. “Soy milk, you say? Gonna give them brittle bones and make your poor baby girl start her period when she’s four! Pacifier? He’s gonna have to wear a headgear for seven years and get plastic poisoning. Outside with bare feet? That baby is gonna catch pneumonia!”
Now I do have to admit that some advice may be helpful. My very own grandmother told me to give my colicky newborn a little whiskey to help “quiet her down.” I don’t know about the baby, but it worked like a charm on me.
Bottom line? Your life, your kid. Let them go screw up their own children — you’re busy screwing up yours.
Jeanne Martin is a freelance writer and graphic designer by day, one sarcastic mother of two by dusk and completely unqualified to write this advice column at any time.