One day when I was about sixteen years old, I was babysitting of my nephew, who was one year old more or less. We were at my dad’s house in Bridgeport, and it was spring in Chicago. I’d say it was 40-50 degrees. My dad wasn’t home, and we were out of milk and juice, and Big D needed some. So I bundled him all up in all his cold weather gear, put him into his stroller, and started walking to the little Mexican grocery two blocks away. As I walked past a house three doors down from my dad’s a little old lady ran out and shouted “You shouldn’t have that baby out in this weather, and you are way too young to be having babies anyhow! Where are your parents?” I was too weirded-out to answer and just kept walking, secure in the knowledge that: 1) it was not too cold to have a baby out in that weather as his mother had left me the stroller; 2) I was not too young to baby-sit; and 3) this was not my baby.
Boy is 2 months old. It is July in Chicago; 85 plus degrees. Boy is already suffering from heat rash. He is in an onesie and a diaper. I am carrying him in a snugglie. The child is sweating like mad. I walk past a neighbor woman that I don’t know, who says to me (in a baby voice) “Oh, Mommy I am so cold, put some socks on me.” I say, “Stop touching my kid.”
Flash forward again.
Girl is 6 months old. It is a warm spring day. We go to the park. Girl is wearing maroon pants with a fairy princess on the leg, a pink top that matches and a pink windbreaker (much to my dismay, she was given a lot of pink clothes). As she is swinging, another mom pushing her baby says, “How old is your little boy?” I say “SHE’S 6 months.” She says, “Oh, well sorry. You know you really need to have her ears pierced.” I say, “They’re not my ears to pierce”
As a mother, and clearly a babysitter, I have often been given advice from outside sources that was neither good, nor sought after. This advice has ranged from what I should eat while pregnant (Never ever spicy food! Always eat spicy food!) to how to get my kids to go to bed. People have told me what to name my kids (Gross, not Maizie! Why not revisit Maizie?) and what they should wear. I am sure these people have the best of intentions; however, I am the mother. I have spent way more time with my children than anyone else in the world, including the first nine months that no one else knew them. I have the ability and the fortitude to know what is best for them, and what is best for our family.
I also know that there will always be dissenters. If I have them in activities, I will be called a pageant mom only looking out for what I want, and not what my kids want. If I don’t have them in activities I will be accused of letting them sit about and be lazy. I know that my kids are happy and enjoying their childhood. When they are grown, they will be doing their very best to give their kids a childhood as similar to the one they had, just like I am doing. They’ll grow up knowing how to really swim, having interesting hobbies, and having an enriched life that includes doing kids’ stuff in addition to preparing for their future, because that is the effort that I am making for them.
It may keep me busy, but I signed on for the motherhood gig, but I do it to the fullest of my capabilities and try not to let the haters and busy-bodies get me down!
21 hours ago