Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advice on Advice

My life is Hiram, school, and pregnancy.

I could write about how much I love Hiram. I could write about how he makes my lunch every morning and now goes outside in the ONE DEGREE BUT FEELS LIKE -15 WITH THE WINDCHILL weather to scrape the snow off my car. I could write about how he is working so unbelievably hard or I could write about how tenderly he snuggles with me and gives me butterfly kisses with his eyelashes. But nobody wants to hear about that...

I'm also pretty sure nobody wants to hear about my job. I teach junior high and I teach math. One or both are usually unpleasant memories/subjects to the general public. (I enjoy my job.)

And then I've had some issues with talking about my pregnancy on here because I'm scared of receiving advice. And I'm not alone in this. I actually have a few other friends who are pregnant and haven't announced anything to friends/coworkers simply because they do not want advice.

That doesn't mean that I want to enter my motherhood ignorantly. I want advice.

I just want to ask for it first. 

So here's a semi-hypocritical post, because I'm going to share some simple advice on giving advice regarding pregnancy and parenthood:


1. Remember that pregnancy and parenthood are personal. Opinions are not objective. I personally love large families and have always wanted one of my own. I cannot wait to be a mother and consider motherhood a wonderful way to exercise the creativity and intelligence I have been blessed with and have worked on developing.

Goodness, I know others don't feel this way. I remember my mother being asked if "all those children came from the same father", and I clearly remember an elementary teacher mocking my parents for having (at the point) five kids. The comment took maybe three seconds to say, but it has stuck for over ten years and still kind of hurts.

Even though I view motherhood as a high calling, I have made a personal commitment never to ask a friend or colleague when or even if they are starting their own family. Choosing if or when to get pregnant is personal. If or when that works out is also personal. And so is how a parent raises his or her children. It's personal.

So be very very careful with your questions and comments. Please.


2. Give advice when it's asked for. A beautiful blessing of today's technology is the opportunity to research any topic for practically immediate answers. However, I feel like a result is the polarizing of opinions on everything. 

Pro-Abortion or Pro-Life? Breastfeed or bottle-feed? Circumcision or no? Medicated labor or natural birth? Vaccinations: beneficial or evil? Let's not start on education...

If I've learned anything from being an older sibling, it's to let others learn for themselves. I still struggle with that. I am a teacher. I think, I learn, and then I teach.

But deeper than my desire to teach (which is very, very deep) is my belief that we have an inherent ability and right to make our own decisions and form our own opinions. We all have agency. So we can each make decisions.

Let's each try a little harder to hold back our perspective on these topics unless it's asked for. Otherwise, let's allow others to exercise their agency and make an educated decision.


3. Remember that every situation/child is unique. One of the reasons I'm so looking forward to motherhood is the opportunity to figure out each of my children. My parents were excellent examples of meeting our individual needs. Parenting strategies that worked on me did not necessarily apply to Terra, and what worked with Terra didn't help Drake. So my parents focused on individual needs and we were each raised differently.

Parents raise children differently from family to family. Different discipline, different expectations, and different doctrine.

This isn't just applying to parenthood, though.

It can apply to whether or not a couple desires to get pregnant. I have been waiting to be a mother since I was maybe two years old... but that doesn't mean that every girl feels that way. Each couple may have different reasons and different priorities.

It can apply to whether or not a couple can get pregnant. Perhaps it appears that a couple is just waiting for the right time, maybe that's even what they have told you. But that doesn't mean that they haven't seen a doctor multiple times, or experienced multiple miscarriages.

It can apply to a pregnancy and how a mother can handle her health. I have two friends that have been extremely sick throughout their entire pregnancies. Personally, I have not even thrown up yet. It is much easier for me to stay hydrated and keep food down, but I've been so exhausted that even thinking about exercising after teaching a full day at school is overwhelming.

We need to remember that we don't know really what is happening in another's life. Only our own. So let's each try to refrain from making assumptions.


4. Refrain from commenting on a pregnant woman's body. Or any woman's body.

Even though I'm only 15 weeks and apparently "not showing", I am bigger. I had a mini breakdown a week or so ago after repeatedly hearing that I don't look any different.

My thoughts were, "I am different. I can't fit in skirts or pants that I used to wear. I can't suck in my tummy. I'm already uncomfortable with my size. And if you think I look the same then I must usually look fat."

Luckily, Hiram gives me all the love and confidence that I can't find on my own, so I am fine now.
But for a couple of days I started thinking of ways to lose weight (um, ... what?) and wanted to buy a completely new wardrobe so I wouldn't feel bad every time I put on an ill-fitting article.

I can only imagine it will get worse. Right now I want people to recognize my size. In about five months, I'll be tired of the comments and ready for things to go back to normal.

Tell us that we're beautiful. Ask us how we are. Compliment us on our cheerful attitude or hard-work despite the fact that our bodies are making other beings. All of those are more than welcome! :)


5. Thumper's Rule: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." Even if you don't think that a couple should be having a third child, tell them congratulations! Be happy for them! Support others in their choices.

Love them.


Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think. (This is me asking for advice.)

Update: Apparently comments aren't showing up. I'd still love your feedback. Feel free to email me by clicking on the email button above our picture.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't mind the advice so much as I did some of the comments or strangers touching my stomach (that's a bizarre one!) April said that someone once told her that she looked like a cartoon character because her size was so unusual (super thin, with a sticking out VERY far stomach) -- she was constantly asked if she was having twins or triplets and once was told that it looked like she was going to tip over. And then one woman in our McK ward who was really short (and as a result, rounder fully pregnant) had someone come up to her near the end and say (with the hand motions), "I'm a little teapot!" (yes, adding on the short and stout). Poor thing!

    Just remember what I told you when I saw you -- it's a really fun time because you can stick out your stomach as much as you want and it's the only time that that's considered "cute" in our society (unless you're a little kid :) ) . Have fun!