Have you ever been in a situation in which a family member, say, your aunt, happens to be around you and your baby & asks you a question that sounds like she isn’t sure you have fully considered the safety of your baby prior to doing whatever you’re doing (and you know that you have)? I’m not picking on aunts out there. However, I am speaking more so of female family than male, simply because we (females) tend to believe we are the authority on baby-knowledge. Maybe we are the authority on all baby-knowledge, and maybe it’s just instinct built on centuries of experience & keeping our species alive. Personally, however, I can admit I do not know all there is to know about babies, otherwise I believe I would be a trillionaire with the authoritative parental guide published in all languages of the world! Nonetheless, I must say that I have paid conscious attention to both of my girls, and there isn’t anything I can think about having done, that didn’t have their safety and overall well-being as high priority. So presence or lack of all baby-knowledge, keeping them safe and well has not been an issue.
If this has happened to you, what did you do when this aunt questioned you, and maybe even gave you that I-am-not-meddling-but-are-you-sure-you-know-what-you-are-doing look? How did you feel? Did you have a moment to think about her intentions? Did you get defensive?
Out of the last twelve years, today is the first day I actually think about this thoroughly. As I was asked these questions and reacted however I did at the time (I will explain), I would remind myself that these women must have meant well and I shouldn’t be bothered with the questions. Maybe a family member may have spoken out of disbelief in my mothering skills, but I don’t like to make negative assumptions. So this year, today to be precise, I thought about the many incidents in which an aunt, sister, mom, mother-in-law, or cousin questioned me as I was handling my baby. I have been asked questions the like of: if the bath water was warm enough, but not too hot; if the baby should be sleeping on her stomach; if the baby is OK playing with a toy I just gave her; and my least favorite questions: if the baby is hungry and is she fussy because she hasn’t eaten.
Honestly, most of these questions seemed so unnecessary at the time, because of course I had considered as many factors and consequences as possible before any of the situations mentioned above! Of course I had! Didn’t they know this? They must know that I wouldn’t let my baby get too cold or burn in the bath tub; or that I wouldn’t let her play with a toy that I know she will put in her mouth, that I thought would be a choking hazard. Yes, I got defensive the majority of the time, because I figured I had loved and birthed this babe, so why were they questioning me? I realize today, more than any of the times in the past 12 years, that the reason they asked me questions, timidly, openly, aggressively, passively, jokingly, seriously… was love. My aunts, mothers, sisters, friends, and cousins all asked me about the little babe because they loved the baby and me. They were comfortable with me. They cared about our well-being and had to speak their hearts and minds on matters that seemed even a tad-bit unsafe to them. Some people say that raising a child is done best when the whole village gets involved. Well, all these family members (friends too) are the village. Questions, in my opinion, are just one facet of communication, and as babies aren’t able to speak for themselves in a way we fully understand, who else should ask questions about the babies’ safety if not the people around us who love us?
Thank you for reading, and I hope you too, like I, find it in yourself to accept the questions… not defensively, but with love; to have faith in your mothering; and to search for more & more baby-knowledge.
PS: I didn’t find the word ‘Trillionaire’ in the dictionary, but I am pretty sure an authoritative book on mothering & parenting would make more than a 1000 billion dollars!