“Thanks for correcting my parenting,” said no mom, EVER.

perfect motherWhat is it about that mom who thinks she holds the golden key to raising a perfect human? And why does said mom need to spread her wisdom to every  mother of every child she comes in contact with? (yes, I do realize I might be living in a glass house here, but I’m a trained expert, remember?)

Old and young moms everywhere tell me it drives them completely bonkers when other mothers offer unsolicited advice, and yet you can hardly take a trip to the supermarket without overhearing someone in line offering up a tidbit like, “I used to (fill in the blank) too, but Suzie just got more and more (fill in the blank.2). You really need to try (fill in the blank.3).”

Somehow, the whole thing brings back memories of middle school and mean girls and how the rest of us wear our insecurity on our sleeve like a neon sign. Especially when it comes to mothering. In our determination to do it all perfectly, we allow ourselves to be targets for those opinionated, stuck-up, popular girls who have now morphed into the mothers who have it all together and show up at the playground impeccably dressed and groomed, with home-made organic snacks and spotless kiddos. At least that’s how it feels.

It starts immediately after the delivery room and continues until … well, I can’t really speak to when it ends, since I’m still fielding advice about how I should be mapping out the futures of my twenty-somethings.

“How many teeth does Violet have? None? Oh, my 4-month-old has 7 molars and is chewing up tri-tip like you wouldn’t believe. We add calcium supplements to her breast milk.”

“Have you applied to The Elite Preschool yet? You know they have a 5-year waiting list, don’t you?”

“You mean Hector hasn’t finished reading the first Harry Potter? Isn’t he already 6? Charles had finished the series by that age. Maybe you could use a tutor?”

“Oh, that SAT prep course. Tiffany’s taking Genius Makers, but then she’s got her heart set on Stanford.”

And don’t even get me started on the blurted-out exclamations, rude whispers and gratuitous eye rolling in response to every other child’s less-than-perfect behavior. Yikes. It’s enough to make us flawed mothers want to crawl under a rock

But the real question is, can you be made to feel inadequate without your consent? Can the bullies pass judgement on your parenting skills without an invitation? No, of course not. All it takes is a small change in attitude … a trade-in on that voice in your head that whispers, you’re not good enough.

Easy? No. Liberating, empowering and life-transforming? YES!

Hey, Mama! That little guy over there — the one with snot pouring out of his nose wearing the Superman cape for the third day and counting, who crept stealthily into your bed in the middle of the night and wailed uncontrollably when threatened with a lifetime of no more Legos if he didn’t return to his toddler bed? That’s your guy and no one — NO ONE — knows him better than you. No one knows how to make him laugh and soothe his hurts and answer his endless questions and just plain love him better than you do.

Seize your power. Own it. And know where to get real, informed help (not from the know-it-alls) when you need it. Trust your mommy gut. Repeat after me … TRUST YOUR MOMMY GUT!

And no matter what you do, don’t be that mom. One day it will be tempting to engage in payback. The opportunity will arise, and you’ll think, who’s the super mommy now, sucka?? But resist the pull, because karma is a b*tch. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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