Seven Mother's Days ago, I got into an awkward.... uhmm...disagreement with my Mother-in-law after a well-meaning comment she made. My daughter was having a meltdown after I refused to bend to her will over ingesting yet another piece of candy or something and she pitched a fit. On Mother's Day. While she screamed bloody murder in a corner and I tried not to drink wine before noon, my mother-in-law turned to me and said, "You know, you don't believe me now, but one day, you're going to miss this."
Breathe, I told myself. You don't want to end up on the cover of The Sun.
"Maybe," I shot back, "but today is not that day!"
I could tell by the way my husband flinched that I maybe should have kept quiet. But come on! You know that's the sort of comment that could lead to matri-in-law-cide, right?
Unsolicited advice is the scourge of parenthood and, happily, I am not alone in my hatred of it. I had the chance to read an excerpt from the amazing comedian, Jim Gaffigan's new book, Dad is Fat, and aside from having the most perfect title, the section of the book that killed me the most was the passage that dealt with just these sort of "insightful" exchanges (which Gaffigan gets in spades, by the way, having fathered five children. Five!)
From the moment the baby bump shows, people view it as an open invitation to give unsolicited advice about everything baby-related: "Your wife shouldn't be walking up stairs!" "Looks like your wife is having a boy!" Then with the newborn: "Isn't your baby hot?" "Isn't your baby cold?" Or my favourite regarding a baby in a sling: "Can he breather in there?" No, he can't. And I plan to put you in there next.
Of course, "You're going to miss this!" is not typical advice. It's a confession from these parents with older children that they may not have taken enough time to appreciate the chaos. That's why when people tell me "You're going to miss this!" I always offer to let them take a trip down memory lane and come over and change some of Patrick's diapers at 4:00 AM or tell my three-year-old the same Scooby Doo story for five straight hours.
Brilliant. Where is advice like this when you need it, I ask?
Listen, I know that she meant well. And I assume that she was talking about my kids being young and not the conversation we were presently engaged in (as I wasn't going to miss getting unsolicited parenting advice). And I get it: I will miss them being cute and cuddly and generally sweet in all the things that they do. Hell, I already ready miss how easy it was to buy them clothes without being told that the ones I chose are "a bit lame. No offence, Mom." I suppose it's rather ironic that after all of the toddler meltdowns in the library, the grocery store and various parks throughout the metropolitan Toronto area that, someday, my kids be embarrassed by something as small as my musical choices. (BTW, Michael Jackson is still cool with the kids, right?)
But I will never miss the unsolicited advice. Never. I would rather spend eternity dropping my kid off a block from school without his friends having to see me driving in my pyjamas than have an old lady tell me in the line up at the grocery that my kid is too young to be eating a lollipop.
If lollies are a chocking hazard than fill your cart, lady. Now, that is advice that I can live with.....