i would rather take your half-eaten muffin that you sneezed on than your advice no exaggeration

I have a number of friends and acquaintances who will soon become parents for the first time.

The guys are this amazing and hilarious combination of casual and panicked.

I'm cool, I'm good, my baby's gonna be a playyyyaaaa--WAIT DID WE GET A CRIB?! JESUS CHRIST WE NEED A CRIB! THIS THING IS GONNA BLOW ANY FUCKING DAY NOW AND WHAT, IT'S JUST GONNA SLEEP ON THE GROUND?!?! LIKE A GOAT?!?!

The ladies are swoll up from the flo' up.

Tense and exhausted, excited and just-about-fucking-done, they are going to knife the next motherfucker who pipes up with one of his/her totally original and appropriate and in no way irritating comments at the grocery store.

No, ass hole, I am not smuggling a basketball.
No, it's not twins.
No, I'm not glowing.
No, I don't want to hear about your sister's emergency cesarean that resulted in baby brain damage, and
NO, we're not ready.
Are you ready?
To be on the news tonight?
Because if you're not, start walking. Did I stutter.

Irritating strangers don't shut up once you've pooped out a baby, I'm sorry to say. And neither does irritating, useless advice.

I'm sorry to say that the advice-giving population is 98% totally fucking useless.

Let's unpack it in one of those adorable clickbait top-five lists. Except I have six.

Top Six People Giving You Useless Baby Advice

1. Your friend with older kids who hasn't been a baby parent in years. 

She might wear hip yoga pants just like you, but her heart is as hard as a prison guard's. She's like, "(draw on cigar) HA. Please, babies are easy. Wait until he's MATILDA'S age. I'm the one with the hard life right now, honestly. Just let the baby cry. You'll live. Stop worrying about shit that doesn't matter."

She does know a lot about parenting. And she's right; babies are, in many ways, easy. They have basic needs with basic solutions. She doesn't mean to minimize your fears or anxieties. She is trying to tell you that you can do it, that this too shall pass, and that what feels like a high-stakes poker game is actually just penny slots. She doesn't mean to make you feel stupid or naive. She's just summited this particular peak already, and now she's climbing a brand-new mountain. Not to mention, babies in mirror appear easier than they actually were.

2. Your friend with older kids who gives practical advice that you won't find in parenting books.

So much baby advice from seasoned parents is great fucking advice. Their tips are absolutely true and effective, yet many first-time parents don't want to take it. Seasoned parents have the added element of exhaustion and perspective, so they take short cuts that first-timers aren't comfortable with.

Don't fuck around with a cold wash cloth. Just give the kid some Tylenol.
Four stories before bed? That's a lot of fucking stories. Take it from me. Do one. One short one.

I remember the first time I had the stomach flu with a 6-month-old Chicken, and my mom told me that sometimes you just have to put on a movie. I was like sure, some people might. Not me. I'm going to stagger around the house building a baby obstacle course to help encourage the growth of his gross motor skills. ENRICHMENT or DEATH. 

Today I'm like, fuck it. I'm sleepy. Let's just put on a movie.

It was good advice. I just wasn't ready to take it.

So at the time, despite its intrinsic value, yeah, that advice was useless.

3. Your friend with young babies who believes she's cracked the code to raising babies perfectly.

She clearly remembers what it means to wean from the swaddle, teething remedies, and the long march toward the promised land of sleeping through the night. But gosh, you know. Her baby ain't your baby. Her family ain't your family. Her choices aren't necessarily going to be your choices. I can't tell you how many of these conversations I had when Chicken was just a wee chick:

Me: We're just having such a hard time with naps, you know?
Her: Well, I assume you're co-sleeping.
Me: Actually, no... he sleeps worse and we sleep worse, so we never really co-slept.
Her: But he's in the room with you, right?
Me: He's in his room.
Her: (stares, eyebrows raised)
Me: But it's in the same house...

or

Me: Yoga has been saving my life.
Her: That sounds amazing... how do you get out of the house without the baby?
Me: I just pump so Ryan can give Chicken a bottle.
Her: Wow... How do you make time to pump?
Me: Well, if I don't have time, I just tell Ry to give him a bottle of formula.
Her: (stares, eyebrows raised)
Me: It's organic formula.

I'd like to make it clear that I am friends with these women and that I believe their hearts were in the right place. They just didn't do it like that. They were all geared up to help me solve the problem by offering me the solution that worked for them, and then I flipped the script on them. But the solutions they're offering? Staying tethered to my baby with tit out on demand? Co-sleeping when baby hated it and Ryan hated it and I hated it? Useless.

4. Well-meaning great-aunts, grandmas, practically-a-second-mothers, and kindly retired neighbor ladies who have about a decade of lost baby-rearing time erased from their memories. 

Dude, no way around it. They just do not fucking remember. Anything they say that isn't some version of, "I have no fucking idea, girl. That was 30 years ago," is a LIE. Not a mean lie. Just a blind-ass-guess-that-sounds-correct-ish lie.

The good news is that the advice they give is typically as vague and adorable as a Precious Moments blank-inside greeting card. Treasure every moment is a real chart-topper. So is sleep when the baby sleeps, and rub whiskey on his gums. Although I hear that whiskey thing is a keeper, actually.

5. Friends who are not yet parents.

"Okay, I'm not a parent? But I nannied for a summer in college?"

So they're pretty much trying to get stabbed whenever they open their mouths to tell you how you're doing something wrong, or about this one time the nanny kid threw a fit and they "just didn't tolerate it. It's simple."

Raising someone else's baby from 9-5 is not the fucking same as raising your own baby 24/7/365. Learn it quick and lock up that useless fucking advice. I'll let you know if I'm going to parakeet-sit for someone and need your tips on competent short-term caregiving.

(Wow. That came out meaner than I thought it would. I guess I have some issues.)

6. Strangers.

Strangers in parking lots, strangers in restaurants, strangers in public parks, and other breeds of ballsy stranger who have no fucking idea who you are, who your kid is, or why they have no fucking business talking to you about the most stressful and intimately critical work of your life. 

Don't talk to me about why my Ergo carrier is psychologically damaging my baby. Don't tell me he should be wearing socks, or shouldn't be wearing socks, or should be wearing organic socks. Get the fuck out of here. You're useless.

___

So now that you know that just about everyone is going to be useless, let me shine some light. Remember how I said that 98% of the advice-giving population is useless? Well, 98 isn't 100, is it?

Behold, the useful 2%.

Your partner, the only other person on earth who can begin to understand the bizarre, terrible, alien beauty that is the ecosystem of a new family.

Friends who will listen to you babble about your fears or conundrums and say, "wow, that sounds hard. How can I help?" With compassion, without judgement. With humor, without competition.

Bloggers. Well, not all bloggers. I'm thinking of one in particular.

And most important... (sorry, cue the Hallmark violins)

You have you.

You've got this.

This sounds like the biggest platitude in the advice arsenal, but it is inexorably true: trust your gut. Trust yourself. You're the mama now. You're the daddy now.

You're not perfect. Nobody is.
You're not ready. Nobody is.
But you're going to do great. Just trust your gut.

And that one blogger. She really knows her stuff.

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