The Advice Column

gooseI am feeling very protective of my family recently. There have been times in the last few months where I’ve almost said something snarky on return of a comment made about (or for) one of my boys, my extended family – or even the dogs. Typically I let things glide on past without getting too irritated, but perhaps this ridiculous weather has had an affect on me.

Mama Bear is roaring out of me. I’m the annoying mother goose protecting her nest. If you know me at all, I do try to avoid conflict at most costs, but my heart is bursting with pride for my peeps, and I feel the need to protect.

I know that most of the time, people:

1) Do mean well, usually. They are just trying to make conversation.
2) Are not trying to pick a fight.
3) Enjoy sharing their experiences and what they accomplished. Who doesn’t?
4) Might be jealous or seriously curious/concerned.
5) Don’t know what they are saying or don’t fully understand the situation.

I realize that having a family and getting older provide opportunities for mostly well-meaning people to give unsolicited advice. And there are plenty of times that I need and appreciate and seek advice. But, this seems different. It’s like, seriously, I’m becoming Mother Hen.

Here’s an example. Jokingly, it’s been told to me that Wes is frequently sick. “Germy” was actually the word used. He’s a toddler. He’s around kids that touch each other and their faces often. It shouldn’t be, but this is a hot button for me. I guess it makes me feel like person(s) joking either thinks of me as an unprepared mother of bad hygiene, that it’s unfortunate Wes has to attend daycare where all the germs gather or that Wes himself is just a silly kid with poor immunity. Listen, folks. Mothers – and all women, really – have a bad habit of thinking themselves inadequate. Poking fun or offering advice sometimes rubs us the wrong way because it fuels the fire already burning.

I’ve been on the opposite side of the conversation, too. A few years ago, I bought an item off craigslist that happened to be listed by a former coworker. He had just adopted two beautiful children from the Democratic Republic of Congo – a boy and a girl of same age. When I went to the house to complete the sale, I got to meet the children, just a few months younger than Wes. I was so taken with them and asked all kinds of questions about the adoption process, including, “Are they brother and sister?” He respectfully responded, “They ARE brother and sister, yes.” Pause. It sank in. “No, they are not biologically from the same birth parents, but they are my children and therefore, siblings.” It stung. I instantly felt awful for being that person – uneducated and assuming. I apologized, and he was kind enough to understand my inquisitive nature.

I think that experience made me more aware of my conversations with people – new parents, those with a diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and other difficult subjects. It’s fine to be curious and interested in others’ lives, and I’m sure the party is happy to share information, but my point is to be aware of what you’re asking or commenting on. Phrase it in a way that makes it flatly honest and not disrespectful.

In the meantime, I will work on my hot buttons and how to keep my cool. 🙂

Posted: February 16th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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