My attitude on platitudes

Hi! I’m Amber and I’m filling in for the day while Kelli takes some time to become a gentlelady and scholar. I normally blog about pure chaos over at Today I’m sharing some of that here at No. 7. I hope you enjoy. It took me a while to figure out how to work the word nipple into a guest post.

I can barely spell the word segue and I’m definitely not skilled at them. So, lets just get right to it. Shall we?

A few years ago, I received an email from a friend. She found herself unexpectedly pregnant and, being that we were in our early twenties and  I was the only person she knew with children, she wanted my best parenting advice. This shouldn’t be a problem. It was simply one friend to another asking for some insight into the world of motherhood, only, I do not give parenting advice.

This is one of the few rules in my life that I never break or even bend simply because nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare one for the deafening, sticky, pungent, disorienting mess that is your life post-birth and I refuse to add to the chorus of parenting platitudes.

I was confident that she would receive a plethora of unsolicited advice over the coming years, most of which she would do herself a favor to promptly ignore.

After all, what had the many comments on and suggested activities for my breasts really done to ease the chaos of the moment my milk let down and began drenching the squirming newborn in my lap who much preferred to scream in place of nursing? Breast is best! “What a pearl of wisdom,” I thought as I smeared an entire tube of lanolin on my cracked and bleeding nipples “or, you know, utterly devoid of usefulness.”

Then there were those who urged me not to rush to the side of my crying baby. Didn’t I know I would spoil him? “Holy crap!” I thought. “You mean to tell me these things go rotten?” Though they certainly smell that way at times, I find no merit in the idea that comforting a crying infant leads to raising a brat. All children must pass through the ages of two and three at which point they morph into cold, calculating monsters and when that time came I was thankful for all those warm and fuzzy memories when my cuddling brought them reassurance. It was these moments I recalled fondly when my two year old scaled an end table and hurled a shoe at my head for preparing her juice in the wrong color sippy cup.

I could fill the world’s dullest book with all the advice on my child’s diet. It must be organic, hormone and high fructose corn syrup free, all natural, no preservatives! Feeding your children anything less is nothing short of child abuse. Can someone tell me what the mandatory minimum prison sentence is for feeding your kid a diet which consists entirely of Nutrigrain bars because, as it turns out, mine would rather starve than ingest anything else.

Given the vast wealth of knowledge bestowed upon me from the moment the bump in my sweater announced my impending status as mommy, I was surprised at the number of things my colleagues, relatives, and fellow grocery shoppers omitted from their parenting pep talks.

For instance, not one person informed me that a time would come when I would look back fondly on the days of using the bathroom without an audience and I’m certain no one alerted me to the fact that my toddler, ever eager to imitate those around her, would attempt to stealth wipe me as I sat unsuspecting on the toilet mid-stream.

No one counseled me on the proper damage control of those ‘kids say the darndest things’ moments either. What exactly does one do when their son makes the rounds at the family reunion personally identifying each relative as a “penis haver or a buh-gina haver?” or when they point at the full-figured woman pushing her child on the swings next to yours and say “Wow, mom, look how big that lady’s belly is. Is there a baby inside of her?”

What with all the advice on potty training (buy them a book on the topic, have them aim at cheerios, reward them with stickers/M&Ms/dollar tree toys), I went into that thinking I was practically a licensed professional. However, it seems the masses left out the part where it would be necessary to travel with a trunk filled with extra pants every where we went, that I would never remove the scent from our car created by urine-soaked car seats baked in the summer heat, and that our entire house would need to be re-carpeted by the time the ordeal was over.

So, what advice could I offer my dear friend who had reached out to me, nervous and unsure of her unanticipated and rapidly approaching major life change? What knowledge could I bestow upon her despite my grudge against the endless supply of parental how-to’s?

My advice was simple. Survive.

It’s all any of us can hope for really.