Opinions really don't mean sh**
You know the old saying that "opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink." I hate that expression, and don't really agree with it at all. I find more often than not that while everyone has an opinion, they don't all stink, they just don't always warrant a share. I came across a meme the other day that defined maturity as knowing what deserves your opinion and what doesn't and that was something that I could get behind. Why is it that we find ourselves so enthralled with sharing our opinion with others, and more often when it isn't solicited. When I became a mother I found that all mothers' before me had a lot to "offer" and they called it advice. To be honest with you, I found that it was them sharing their opinions on what will happen, what I should do, how I should do it, and why. There really were not a lot of mothers' who said to me "do you mind if I share something with you?" There were a few and most of them were social workers or therapists who understood the importance of what they were saying, and how it could be perceived.
I'm half Italian so I understand where I come from and how my culture impacts what is sad and how it has been tolerated for so long. You were always told what to do and how to do it, no one asked if they could tell you their experience. What I am learning as I navigate motherhood is that no one actually gives a shit about your opinion unless they have solicited it. If that is the case, it really is your advice they are seeking, not your opinion. I recently experienced this same situation vicariously and it really had me wondering why so many people, with so little experience during a pandemic had so much to say about a mother's decision of what to do with her child. No one has experienced COVID-19 before this year, so you don't have any experience to refer to when talking to a new mother about where she brings her child, why she is doing it, or that she is "taking this too seriously." The fact that anyone comments on a mother's decisions during this time is baffling to me. What leg do you have to stand on? What mother would knowingly put her child in danger to satisfy a need that someone else may have? No mother would do that. Our first and primal instinct is to protect our babies, not put them in harmful situations.
Someone once told me that while I birthed the baby, she belongs to the whole family. I agree 50/50 with that statement in the notion that everyone wants to see the baby and share in all of their events and milestones. However, it is also important to note that the baby is the creation of the mother and father, no one else, and that means that while you may have your opinion on what a mother chooses to do, you really have no say when it comes down to the final decision. If that is the case why do so many people still find it necessary to make these comments and openly share their opinions and frustrations with the mother's decisions?? Isn't motherhood hard enough to navigate? Don't we feel judged in everything that we are doing? The answer to that is "YES." Those first 6-9 months were the most crucial times of feeling this way, and when people uninvitingly insert themselves into our parenting that can be very dangerous for the relationship. If a new mother lacks supports and all she has is people telling her what to do, and that goes against her gut she can enter into post par tum
depression quickly, feeling inadequate to care for her baby. If she does have supports and you are so quick to offer up your opinion and your judgement, you may quickly find yourself exiled from her life, and depending on your role in her life, that could be detrimental for all of you involved.
Here is a little take away from this post: If you find yourself in a position where you are about to tell a new mother "how to do something" or "what you think she should do" start by saying "Hey, would you like my opinion/advice on the issue?" before automatically assuming she wants to hear, or even values what you have to say. The closer you are to the mother the more you should be respecting her space and evolution in decision making as a mother so keep that in mind too. Remember when you became a mom and heard everyone talking about what you were doing or not doing and how it made you feel. If you can't impact this new mother in a positive way, or if what you are going to say does not add value to her situation go have a seat somewhere else and keep your mouth shut. Your hot air and gossip is not appreciated, and honestly you are embarrassing yourself.