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I Love When Joe Shmoe Gives Parenting Advice

unwanted-parenting-advice-585I was lucky during my pregnancy in that, for the most part, people didn’t view my large belly as an open invitation to give me their birth horror stories or outdated advice. I’ve heard stories about rude comments from strangers, but I never experienced that, although I did notice people not-so-subtly gaping at my girth.

Since my daughter arrived, I’ve gotten unsolicited advice a couple of times from strangers. Once, when leaving a restaurant, I was loading a crying, hungry baby into her infant car seat. I was trying to focus on getting her properly restrained under pressure when a woman stopped on her way out the door. “She has gas,” she declared expertly before giving me step-by-step instructions on what I needed to do and exactly how I needed to do it to relieve the “gas.” I was so flabbergasted and preoccupied that I couldn’t even respond to the know-it-all that actually, it had been a few hours since she’d last eaten and she was getting hungry.

Cut to yesterday. I desperately wanted a cup of coffee and had no creamer on hand. So I packed Avery up in her Ergo baby carrier and headed to our corner store. Now, I have worn Avery on my chest numerous times in the carrier, but had only carried her once before on my back. After several minutes of acrobatics that could get me a spot in a circus sideshow, I got her adjusted, straps tightened. I checked her out in the mirror to make sure she looked comfortable and headed out the door.

Coffee in hand, I went to pay at the store. The lady behind the counter tells me that the baby doesn’t look “comfortable.” I’m thinking, oh, crap, I must not have gotten her in it very good! Until she says, “The strap is in her face, and her legs look too wide.” I knew her legs were totally fine (especially after looking at this particular photo!), but on our way to the pharmacy down the street, I checked our reflection in several storefronts to be sure—all was fine, baby was happy. Then, checking out at the pharmacy, the cashier says, “Are you sure she’s comfortable?”

One random person commenting? Could be a fluke. Two people questioning me in one day? I figured something must be wrong that I couldn’t see, so I walked home quick-fast-in-a-hurry and did a mirror check. All was fine; baby was still happy as a clam. But I was bummed out, feeling like I’d been a bad parent.

I of course want to do what’s best for my baby, which is why I went to great lengths to make sure she was comfortable (even holding up a hand mirror at the pharmacy to check on her). Had she been fussing or squirming, I wouldn’t have played the I’m-right/mom-martyr game; I would have adjusted her so she’d be comfortable.

So, who knows. Maybe Avery had on her “I’m about to poop” face; maybe these women had never seen a baby carrier before; maybe they just wanted to be nosy. Whatever the reason for the two-banger Tuesday, I’m going to try not to let it make me super paranoid the next time out. Or let it make me feel like my mommy skills are lacking because, after all, everyone’s parenting style is different and aren’t we all just doing the best we can?

How do you moms handle unsolicited baby advice or comments? What’s the worst unsolicited advice you’ve ever gotten? —Erin

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