I look young, though I’m a grown woman. I am married, I am an entrepreneur and I am an employee.
I have a story.
I have many successes, and I’ve gotten shit done.
And yet, I am your target for ridicule, in regards to my independent appendages- For all you know, I am a mother. And that fact alone makes me subject to you.
My motherhood makes you, the middle-aged woman, or you, the jokester Grandpa, feel entitled to make your voice heard. This makes you, the 40-year-old mom, or you, the 15-year-old teenager, feel you have a right to tell me how you’d do things.
My fertility makes you feel you have a soapbox upon which to stand, and to enlighten me with your ways of the world. Your having raised, or having not raised children, makes you feel I am obliged to hear you out.
And maybe your opinion is valid, and maybe I am struggling and maybe I could consider doing things differently.
But I didn’t ask.
When my body gave birth to my babies I was gifted with the right to parent them in the way I saw fit. The way that worked for me. The way that kept the majority of humans happy for the majority of the time.
When I birthed my babies I was given the privilege of raising them, and I did not, and do not intend on sharing that privilege with you, perfectly strange stranger.
Because you haven’t asked me, when I go to the grocery store, I don’t comment on how much effort you’ve put into the layering of your clothing, or gasp at the sight of your pale bare arms- I like to think you’re capable of knowing what’s best for you and your personal body temperature preference.
But yet you do that to me regarding my kids.
When I see you in the swimming pool, I don’t comment on your swimming performance, or how you could make it better. I don’t assume that because you’re not jumping your way into the pool that you’re falling behind the learning curve, or that you’re generally a timid person.
Though that’s what you’re telling me about my own children.
The ones I have grown from thin air and breathe my every breath with, the ones whose being I know so intimately that I voluntarily wipe their asses eight times a day. The ones whom I dry tears for. The ones I would die for.
I know them. I know their life because I live it.
Yet when I’m out in the world you tell me I must be on my way home because my children are up so late.
You tell me I must be mistaken when I order pasta for them instead of chicken nuggets and fries.
You tell me, repeatedly, I could be doing better. I could be doing it your better way.
You tell me how your kids went to school and how your kids brushed their teeth. You tell me how your future kids will be going to bed and how your future kids will be taught to be polite one hundred percent of the time.
And that’s all gravy for you.
But these are my kids, and I didn’t ask you.
That’s why I switched lanes away from you in the grocery store. That’s why I swam away from you, as you were mid-sentence, in the cold-ass public pool.
Much of the time when I’m getting unsolicited advice it smacks me down without any prompting or conversation whatsoever. Other times, I may have brought something up in a storytelling sort of way to fill you in on my life.
Though different scenarios, these two situations have one thing in common: I still haven’t asked you for your advice.
I’m young, and that either plays a role or it doesn’t. I know quite a few people, so I maybe met you before or I haven’t. I like talking sometimes, so I maybe started conversation or I didn’t. No matter the case, there are only about a handful of things appropriate to tell me out in public, and they are as follows:
a)Your children are beautiful. (Even if you’re a freak and you think they’re not).
b)You’re a superhero. (Even if I’m wearing pyjama pants and a plaid jacket, and I’ve forgotten my cape)
c) Parenthood is the hardest job in the world, isn’t it? (Because it is).
Just because my version of parenthood isn’t yours, doesn’t mean my narrative needs fixing. There are so many routes to get to a given destination, and the things you consider to be potholes are perhaps a very integral part of my journey, or perhaps, they’re the very markers keeping me on course.
Unless I’ve asked you, ‘How would you do things?’ refer to the list above if you must say anything at all.
Yes, you’re well intending, and yes, you have have a right to your opinions and yes, you were involved in the life of a kid once, and yes, I know you were a kid once, too.
But please, gossip about me and the way I do things with your friends who want to hear it.
But I didn’t ask.