What is it that happens to us after we have had kids, that gives us this compelling need to impart all of our knowledge on poor unsuspecting mothers to be? While I do hope I am not up there with the most obnoxious offenders, I must admit my guilt on this one for today. My dear friend, Anne, asked me to help her with her baby registry. We scheduled our highly anticipated field trip to Babies R Us, met for lunch and began our adventure down the aisles, purple registry book in one hand and scanner gun in the other.
I told myself beforehand to take a deep breath and remember how overwhelming this process was two years ago, and to allow her to make her choices without constant interjections of my own experience. Yes, she did ask for my help, but there is a fine line between offering personal thoughts when asked, and railroading an expectant mother’s ideas with know-it-all verbiage that means very little to those outside of the fog. While I tried my best to act as this gentle guide, I fear that I crossed the line on more than a few occasions. But, I had company.
Anne was picking up her chosen baby bottles, and while I did have my reservations about the type of nipple, I held back my thoughts, as neither of my children took bottles regularly and I am not the best to offer advice. But another mom walking by, interjected with her story of how her daughter hated those particular bottles and which ones she discovered to be the best . As she and I chirped annoyingly back and forth about trivial things like nipples, pacifier usage and breast milk storage bags, I looked at my friend as her cheeks flushed and her eyes glazed over. Oh my gosh. Lets back up.
Why does this happen so often? Why do we need to be heard concerning all of our maternal decisions? Better question, why do we want other women to follow our lead? Part of it is that we have been in the trenches and are dying to latch on to anyone who may bend an ear to our war stories. Have you ever made the mistake of asking a woman about her birth experience? But I think also, on some level, we think we can keep women from going through all of the trials and errors we went through. It took us 10 different bottles, but success! We unlocked the code and found the right one! (Psssssst…..the truth is, the baby just outgrew it’s immature digestive phase, but we like to think we are clever sleuths and figured it out.)
But, I believe it is a rite of passage to go through all of the rights and wrongs of being a new mom. Maybe, even if it was possible to create the perfect registry, like a golden ticket for entry into a post partum period of serenity and ease, we would actually be depriving our soon to be sisters of the tumultuous but beautiful journey.
So, after 2 and a half hours, I left my friend to take some time alone and walk around her new territory. I encouraged her to scan anything in the store that made her heart flutter with excitement over her tucked away bundle, and reminded her that later she could add and remove items as she wished. I am hoping she went back to those bottles she originally wanted, the swing I didn’t feel folded with enough ease, and that she went ahead and added the 15 hooded baby towels with the yellow and blue fish. Because really, can you have too many of those?