People like to say babies bring out the best in everyone. It is true that people love babies—well, especially when they are quiet and smiling in their stroller. I am always amazed at how much attention Mark is getting when we go out together and support I got from people around me is pretty awesome.
Yet, there are four types of people who are likely to drive you crazy after you had a baby…
The Baby Police
I met the “pregnancy police” when I was, well, pregnant. If you haven’t had the pleasure, picture well-meaning but tactless and misinformed strangers who feel they simply have to share their wisdom with you, even if you didn’t ask for anything. Actually, especially if you didn’t ask for anything.
The latest encounter: When Mark was only a couple of weeks old, we went to Chapters (a Canadian bookstore, aka my favourite place on earth). Mark was sleeping in the sling when a lady walked across the store towards us. She took a peek at Mark and proclaimed: “Oh, he looks hungry!” “Er… he ate before we left home,” I somehow felt the need to explain. “No, he looks hungry. Come on mommy, time to breastfeed!” She actually stood there for a couple of minutes, staring at us, as if I was going to breastfeed Mark right here, in the middle of the store, simply because she had decided that my kid was hungry. Luckily for her, I was still in the postpartum “dazed and confused” stage. A few weeks later and I would have bitten her pudgy hands petting Mark.
In a way, the sanctimommy belongs to the same breed as the baby police, except that she is above all a mother herself. And a very opinionated one, without any sense of humility—she is doing one hell of a good job, as she claims humourlessly. She breastfed on demand for three years (“formula is poison!”), didn’t have a single night of sleep since her kid was born because she checks up on him every half hour (“someone could snatch him off his bed!”), she makes her own toys out of 100% baby safe material (“can’t trust these Chinese toy factories!”) and she is already teaching her two-month-old basic how to play the piano. Yes, she is annoying because no matter how hard you try, you will never be good enough. She is the master of child rearing.
The latest encounter: Sanctimommies love to impart their precious wisdom online, especially on social networks such as Facebook or on forums such as Urban Baby (a seriously crazy community). She may look less than perfect in real life though, which is probably why she mostly provides advice when safe behind a computer screen.
Presumably, your in-laws are happy to have a grandkid. And they will demand to see him, which also mean seeing your in-laws more often until said kid is old enough to stay with them alone. In-laws are… well, in-laws, people you are not related to but with whom you have to be polite and civil for the sake of everyone around.
The latest encounter: Oh boy, where do I start…! My in-laws are lovely people, they mean well but they are clueless. Which is probably why they somehow think they are right. Their motto? “If it’s not broken, fix it anyway.” Which means that when Mark is happy, they are going to do something that will make him cry—wrapping him in layers of clothing, trying to feed him when he is not hungry, holding him when he just wants to be put down, etc. I keep on explaining them why it doesn’t work and how to make Mark happy but they don’t listen. What can I do?!
Retail Sales Clerks at Baby Stores
New parents are so easy to guilt trip it’s not even funny. This is probably why every clerk in every baby store has been trained to upsale using phrases like “for your baby’s safety [we recommend that $100 Ralph Lauren sweater]”, “for your little one, it is important that [you buy the most expensive baby bottle available]” or “for health reasons, we do not recommend you use the generic brand of diapers [you cheap bastards!]”.
The latest encounter: I stopped asking for advice in baby stores because clerks invariably try to sell you the most expensive options and will convince you that you absolutely need whatever miscellaneous gadget. I am sorry, but babies do not need wipes warmer (even in Canada), fancy diaper disposal systems or other gimmicks.
So, parents, ever met these folks?