When you become a parent, you open yourself up to unsolicited advice in a way you probably have not experienced before. Actually, it happens when you start showing with your first pregnancy and doesn't end, apparently, no matter how many children you have. It is a odd phenomena that just by procreating total strangers will now feel like they have every right, no not just the right, but the obligation to give you "words of wisdom". Many times these strangers may not even have children of their own, but everyone is an expert.
Lately, it hasn't been the complete strangers, but the pseudo-grandmothers in our lives. I've mentioned before that our children have no grandmothers (one great-grandmother) and we are lucky to have various friends/neighbors who like to take on a bit of this role. One of these people is the owner of a Thai restaurant we frequent. It is a small restaurant and the owner and her husband cook all the food. She takes care of us and makes sure everything is free from animal products. She notices what the kids like and has created a dish just for them. She added more vegetables to the dish after watching them eat some of mine. She remembers what everyone orders and how spicy they like their food. She starts cooking the food for the boys as soon as we walk in. She is very sweet and well-meaning and my friend Jenny says it is a compliment that she gives me advice, but some days I'd rather not be so deserving of maternal wisdom.
While I'm pregnant with Josie:
Owner: How is the pregnancy going?
Me: Great, I love being pregnant. (Truthfully, I felt great.)
Owner: You look tired, you should get more rest.
Me: I'm fine, I don't feel tired, I guess I did stay up a bit last night, but...(I trail off as she looks at me and nods this "knowing" nod which seems to say I am clearly not telling the truth and I am lacking sleep and the pregnancy is tough on me)
Owner: You are getting soo big! When is the baby coming?
Me: Not for a couple more months. I have gained a little more weight than I did with Parker, but not as much as I did with Dema. Every pregnancy is different.
Owner: Maybe you shouldn't eat so much.
Me: Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to take this home (putting down my fork).
Owner: The baby will be here soon?
Me: Yes, any time now! We'll bring her in after she's born.
Owner: (her voice in almost a whisper as she sits down closer to me) This is a bad time of year to bring a baby out. Do not take the baby out. One of my children was born this time of year and I took him out...he got sick...it is too windy this time of year. Keep the baby inside until Spring.
Me: Okay. (Thinking...Spring? Are you crazy? I can't stay inside until Spring! I took Josie to her first meeting before she was a week old...Spring...please!)
Josie was born and although we felt like going for Thai, I was a little worried about taking her to the restaurant for fear I'd get a lecture.
Owner: Oh, what a beautiful baby! You shouldn't have her out. How was the birth.
Me: It was wonderful, she was born at home. (Ignoring the comment that I shouldn't have her out.)
Owner: No hospital? (Shaking head, walking away.)
Owner: Don't you think she should have more clothes on, it is cold outside.
Me: I put her inside my coat, like this (showing her my babywearing coat). She doesn't need to be so bundled up. (Isn't babywearing a tradition in Thailand just like most countries?)
Owner: It is very cold. (Clearly not approving of my coat arrangement.) Too cold for babies.
Owner: She has such big cheeks!
Me: Yes, she is growing big (I'm not a bigger is better type person, but most people are so I decide to play this one up) and healthy!
Owner: Do you think you are feeding her too much? (Not so much a question as a statement.)
Me: No, I don't think I could...she just nurses, I don't give her solid foods yet...I can't over-feed her breast milk. (Thinking to myself, how could she eat too much, she is less than 3 months old!)
We went to the restaurant the other day after we were all sick (except Josie!) and Dema (who is her favorite) chatted with her for a while. She went off with Dema (as she usually does and she finds him special treats like mangoes, bananas, soy milk, juice boxes, etc.) and came back holding a container of something and Dema smelled like medicine. She explained that Dema was stuffed up and that putting a few drops of this liquid on his clothes would help him breathe. She had already put some on his shirt and here was some for me to take home. She added that it was all okay to use and wouldn't cause any allergies. There is no English writing on the container so I have no idea what is in it. But, she gave it to me with such love and concern I felt this intense urge too hug her. Sure, I feel like she questions my parenting at every turn, but it truly is out of love and caring for me and my family.