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Ask the Expert (Please!)

You know the arechetypical stress dream where you discover that you have to take a final exam for a class you never went to all semester? It might have been because you could never find the room. Or perhaps you meant to drop the class and simply forgot. Whatever the case, there’s always an exam and a totally unprepared you. I have this dream often.

I’ve decided that new motherhood is the inverse of that dream. It’s like studying for months for an exam only to have it be canceled or to find out that you never signed up for the class in the first place. Not at first of course.

At first they hand you a helpless infant and you panic. When I was handed my son, I had held exactly one (1) newborn in my entire life. I knew nothing about baby care and considered it an act of criminal negligence on the part of the state that they let me take Simon home unsupervised.

Then the crash course began. There is nothing in the world like taking care of an infant for 18 weeks or so around the clock to teach you an awful lot about babies in a hurry. It’s the ultimate immersion class.

I think this is why new parents can be so strident about what parents-to-be should do and buy for their baby. After all, it took us 18 weeks to figure out which toys are really good, what we need for the nursery, what we don’t need for the nursery, which diaper system or carrier works the best, etc. And now that we have this hard-won knowledge, we are dying to apply it elsewhere.

I noticed this trend in other new moms when I was expecting, and now I find myself “helping” a few moms-to-be in the same way. I hear myself saying a lot of “You must do X” or “You have to have Y”. It’s obnoxious! I hated it when people told me what I had to do or have, but I can’t stop myself now. It’s a flat out compulsion, fueled in part by tendency to over-research everything and in part by my being terribly opinionated in the first place.

Right now my knowledge is possibly useful and relevant. In a few years, on the other hand, it will be out-of-date and possibly dangerous. So I’ve decided to indulge my compulsion for “help” now and risk being an irritant in exhange for stifling it down the road when I might be a hazard. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. He he he…

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