Two of my friends who live in Seattle both had babies within the past month. I’ve been stalking them on facebook looking for pictures of their beautiful new kids and hoping for updates. And when those updates come—either in public posts or in more intimate, private emails—I have tried to completely bite my tongue.
I really want to tell both these women about MY experiences with my first when I went through everything they went through. They both had unplanned C-sections. I had two unplanned C-sections!! Surely I’ve got some expertise to lend.
They both were over 35 when they gave birth; so was I (with Silas)!
They are both going through the epic learning curve of becoming a mom. Guess what—I did that, too!
Fortunately for our friendship I’ve been good about keeping my enthusiasm under wraps because I remember hating the people who offered WAY too much unsolicited advice at the beginning of my motherhood journey. While I am sure they meant well, at the time I presumed they were projecting onto me in some unfair way. I wasn’t interested in the lessons they could teach me; I wanted to absorb my experience as it was, unadulterated by their interpretations of their own journeys into motherhood.
These days I am much more open to advice because, frankly, I need it. I also don’t feel as shell-shocked, blissed out, overwhelmed, and overjoyed as I did in those early days of motherhood.
Which is right where my friends are.
And that’s why I recently introduced them via email, not knowing whether or not they’ll hit it off or if they even live close to one another. I’ve heard Seattle is a big city. But even though they’re complete strangers right now, they may end up being more important to one another at this phase of their lives than I could ever be.
As I told them: sometimes all a new mom really needs is to know she’s not in this alone, that there is someone going through what she’s going through almost in real time, i.e.: not what your friend with 10-year-old twins or a 4-year-old preschooler remembers about those early weeks. A comrade in arms, so to speak, who is as tired and sore and reeling and in love as you are. That’s who you want to listen to your highs and lows and, possibly, even offer advice.
The rest of us are looking back through rose-colored lenses—or scratchy ones with nothing positive to say—and might not be able to relate to the swirling reality of your new life. We may be able to offer some compassion, words of wisdom, and love, and that’s super important.
But new moms really ought to find another new mom with a baby close to your baby’s age because they two might really be able to relate to one another. And that’s huge when you’re getting to know your newborn and adjusting to life as a mom.
I SO stand by this (unsolicited) advice.