Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Advice and consent

People who know me have, more than once, told me that I am ridiculously independent. I have trouble asking for help, for one thing. This is something I have gotten better at out of sheer necessity since I became pregnant, and even more so now that I'm a parent (and a single parent, at that-— help is essential), but I'm still not great at it. I probably never will be.

I'm better at listening to, and taking, advice. While I will stand in the middle of a melting chunk of ice and insist that I AM FINE AND DO NOT NEED HELP, I am the first to admit that I don't know everything, and I like hearing other people's opinions and ideas on things. (So offer me advice how I should get off the ice. Don't offer, God forbid, to help!)

Except, apparently, from my mother.

Some of it is in the delivery, and other people who've heard my mother give advice to me have agreed with me that her delivery is... not necessarily helpful, or easy to accept. (Validation! I love me some validation.) Her incessantly negative opinions of, and advice relative to, bre.astfeeding in the first few weeks following Elle's birth was exhausting and frustrating. I'm still angry about it, to be honest, and rightly or wrongly I attribute some of my difficulties with bfeeding to the stress it caused.

However, that said, I'm sure she has plenty of good information to offer. She did a pretty good job raising me, after all. But for whatever reason, the hair on the back of my neck just goes right up and I can feel myself digging in whenever she starts offering her thoughts on anything to do with Elle.

(Sample: She called smack in the middle of one time when Elle screamed for 2.5 hours for no apparent reason. Mom: “What's wrong?” Me, exhausted: “I don't know. She's just screaming her head off.” Mom: “Is she wet?” Why, thank GOD you asked, mother! My baby daughter has been inconsolable for over an hour and I never even thought to check her diaper! Thank goodness you called with your wise counsel! Seriously, I just looked at the phone and didn't know how to respond.)

It's a shame, because if I was more open to her counsel, I'm sure I'd benefit from it. I'm just not.

My babysitter L, on the other hand, can say pretty much the same thing—- but I listen to her. She's got a son in college and has been watching kids for 15+ years, so she has a good base of experience to draw from. Her advice has been very practical and down-to-earth. I'm also reassured that she notices things about Elle and mentions them to me, so she's clearly paying attention and engaged, which I like a lot.

So I don’t have trouble with accepting advice from motherly figures. Just my mother.

Good to know.

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