Perhaps the only thing I actively disliked about being a new mother was the unsolicited advice that I had to deal with. Often I welcomed it – there were tips on how I could simplify my life by doing things differently, home remedies to deal with common ailments, and general advice on things I never even knew had to be done.
My biggest problem with the hoards of advice thrown in my direction was that being largely self taught in the act of motherhood, I did not feel confident enough to dismiss any advice without trying it out at least once. And even when it was not conflicting advice, the sheer volume was what overwhelmed me.
I resolved NEVER to become the kind of ‘aunty’ I’d feared. I would never offer advice unless someone expressly sought it. And even when I did, I would caveat it saying that it was something that had worked for me, but that I did not claim it to be the gospel truth.
Why then did I walk up to a perfect stranger today, and tell her that she should never let down the safety latch of the pram. In the three-month old baby, I could see all the signs of someone who would manage to turn herself over any day now. I knew that the next step for the baby would be pushing herself forward using the back of the pram as the support. I knew the baby, though pre-mobile, could fall out of the pram. But in my haste to convey the urgency, I think I became just the kind of ‘aunty’ who’s advice would be ignored by all but the most pliable mothers.
The mother is never going to take my advice – I could see it in the rigidity of her body while I was speaking to her. I just hope that in her desire to ignore me, she doesn’t blind herself to the tell-tale signs that point unerringly to danger.
Could I have achieved my purpose if I had been more oblique?