I never knew how opinionated people could be until I had a baby. Actually it starts well before you have the baby, when you are pregnant.
I remember all sorts of people I vaguely knew or didn’t know offering up their opinions. When I was in my seventh month, so many strangers started swearing up and down I would pop out my baby at any second because I was so big. Or that I must be carrying more than one.
Turns out I was carrying enough water for twins, thanks very much, and my little monkey was born at a healthy eight pounds 11 ounces and only one week early. My mother warned me this would happen. After all she had four children and went through it four times.
I remember one summer when I was about nine years old, my mom invested in a wrist harness (which I thought was cool because it was multi-coloured and stretchy) for my second youngest brother because he was Houdini in diapers.
That kid would take off running and just disappear — which I imagine would be remarkably alarming for my mother as she also was trying to watch myself and my two other brothers.
So she got two of these things (now there are more updated and cuter versions of these harnesses) and put one on each of her wrists and one on each on my two youngest brothers wrists. My baby brother was only about a year younger than Houdini and my mom knew it was just a matter of time before he would be following the other escape artist around.
It was then I noticed the looks. People looked at my mother like she was committing some horrible crimes against humanity. I remember someone actually came up to my mother and told her, "Those are children, not dogs."
I wish I had been the 30-something me at that time and not the nine-year-old me.
She stopped using them after that day and luckily my brothers never got into too much trouble, but I do remember helping her chase after them frantically a number of times.
I also remember how many comments I overheard about how many children my mother had. Or when one of us was having a fit and the looks that were shot her way.
My poor mom. But she handled it all gracefully and from what I saw, let it all roll off her shoulders. I try to be like my mom when I’m raising my own daughter.
I get those comments, too. Not about having so many children, but not having enough.
It amazes me how something so personal as raising your child seems to be a subject that is open to public speculation and discussion.
I don’t like discussing my reproductive plans with people I barely know. Or with whom I know for that matter, but people ask anyway.
When I tell them "One’s good," then I get a few people that stop there but others who go much farther and say they feel sorry for my daughter because she has no one to play with.
I play with her and so does the better half.
Or I get lots of those looks —you know, the ones parents get when their child is throwing a fit for some reason or another.
My child, for example, loves to throw a fit at the grocery store when there is a book or movie she wants that I refuse to get for her.
She gets looks of sympathy. I get looks of "horrible parent."
I try to be graceful like my mother was and let them roll off my shoulder.
Parenting is the toughest job out there and I may not being doing it to everyone else’s liking
But I am doing my best for my child and that’s all that matters.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 14, 2012