Friday, May 21, 2010

Other People's Voices

My late mother was a huge do-it-yourselfer. She worked on her own cars, knitted, sewed, gardened, built things out of wood with tools, all of that good stuff. (Of course, she didn't always finish the projects she set her mind to, but she could have.) She was pretty good at most of it.

The problem for me is this. Any time I want to pay someone to do something that she taught me how to do, I hear her voice in my head saying something like this, "Oh, don't waste your money. Any idiot can hem pants. Paying someone to do it is just stupid."

And I do know how to hem pants. I do a decent job of hemming pants. Given enough time, I'll hem the crap out of a pair of pants. Oops... sorry, I got carried away there. The point is, if my pants are too long, I can fix them. But in this new mommy game, I just don't have the time or inclination to sit down and do it. Since I've lost weight due to nursing and never sitting the heck down, I've had to buy some new pants, some of which are too freakin' long, and I've been struggling to find the time to pin and hem them. And then it occurred to me that, much though I loved my mom, I need to tell her voice in my head to shut up, and get the pants fixed by someone who has the time to do it, if I'm willing to pay them enough.

This same inner dialogue happens to me about choices I make as a parent-- I make a particular choice-- how long I think I'm going to breastfeed her, to go back to work or not, pacifier or no, TV or not-- and I can hear the voices of various people in my life responding and telling me what to do. Then I hear the voices of the so-called experts in my head, and I feel like I might go a bit nuttier. (If you were wondering, the authors of What to Expect the First Year sound like every bitchy sorority girl I knew in college.)

What it comes down to is that, like my mother's voice on the pants, I have to shut those voices down. They only leave me confused and exhausted. At the end of the day, what I have to remember is that we're all just doing the best we can with what we've got. I can't make myself crazy with this stuff. When it comes right down to it, the correct answer here is to do what works best for my family. The decision as to what that is will largely be based on intuition and common sense. "Experts," relatives, and the random people on the street or in stores who feel it is their right to give unsolicited advice, ultimately, can back off.

And, yes, I'm taking my pants to be hemmed. There's a place right next to the yarn shop. I think even Mom would have approved of that.

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