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Home > Family & Lifecycles > By Moms for Moms

By Moms, for Moms
Thanks, but no thanks

Special to
November 27, 2000

CHICAGO—Mothers in this country have a strange need for offering advice. Like having children gives some women a doctorate on the subject of mothering. I like to call them Dr. Moms. There have been at least one hundred times when I have smiled through gritted teeth and said "Thanks, but no thanks."

When my son was about 4 months old, and very apparently not sleeping through the night yet, my husband and I took him to the grocery store at a late evening hour. One older woman approached me and said, "Excuse me, young lady, but your child should be in bed!" Yet another rude woman approached us in the freezer aisle and added her two cents. She complained that our son should be wearing a warmer outfit for "this time of night". I was not aware that babies get colder after 9 p.m.

A "mommy" friend once commented to me that she hated it when Dr. Moms who have never even met your baby know exactly why he or she is crying. "Oh, she must be hungry." "No, wait, I think she needs a nap." Or better still, "I think he just wants a nice friendly stranger to hold him." I don't think so.

When a child is healthy there is an overwhelming plethora of advice, but when a child is sick, that is when Dr. Mom really gets her stethoscope warmed up. While on the elevator to my daughter's doctor visit a woman said, "Oh, that cough sounds terrible, she shouldn't be out in such bad weather."

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a real mothering dilemma over whether or not I wanted to breastfeed. Just being pregnant invited Dr. Mom into my own private decision. "Oh, you are pregnant?" a mother asked me one day at the nail salon. I would rub my obvious tummy and nod my head. "And, will you be breastfeeding?" she continued. "Um, I haven't really decided yet." As the words came out of my mouth I knew what I was in for. "Oh, well I breastfed my 3 kids till they were practically talking. They never got ill, they never missed school, they are so smart. I really attribute it all to that natural start in life." I wanted to finish my manicure and run out of the salon.

At a playgroup with my bottle fed son, I sat around while all the other Dr. Moms were commenting on how wonderful breastfeeding was for their children. "My daughter NEVER gets sick. The immunities in breastmilk, you know." She said. I sat next to another bottle feeder and she was wiping her son's runny nose. She was red faced. In the end my son is rarely sick. I did, however, breastfeed my second born and she was ill every other week with some cold or flu. So much for those Dr. Moms.

Why can't these women just realize that we Mom Newbies just want to live and learn? We don't want the advice of strangers and we certainly don't want unsolicited advice from Moms we know. Moms that I know and love whom offer advice threaten my ability to find things out for myself.

There are plenty of times that I will actually ask for advice from my own mother. For instance, just last week my one-year-old had an odd looking rash. "Mom, it's white bumps with red around it. No puss, just redness." She immediately responded, "Hives." Turns out, she was right on the money.

So, for all of you Dr. Moms out there, or for some well-meaning stranger just itching to say "Put some socks on that baby!" please refrain. We Mom Newbies will just respond, "Thanks, but no thanks."

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©, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission.

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