Two more sleeps until we leave for a tropical vacation. I have been dreaming about this five day trip for 120 days.
We are taking V. Which I’m admittedly nervous about, because, lovable as she is…she’s not very relaxing. But C or I are usually chasing her by ourselves, and at least there will be two of us there, plus family members. Here’s hoping.
I need a recharge.
My friend Elizabeth came over today, and we were discussing yesterday’s post. And just the touchiness in general about advice coming from in-laws (or really, advice coming from anyone).
As we talked, I identified that there are only a couple of people left in my life who I am not 100% purely myself with. And these are the people who are usually giving unsolicited parenting advice, to which I don’t have the guts to say, “Thank you so much, and we are doing just fine.”
They’re not always giving advice. Sometimes, it’s just the way things feel in a conversation that can make me clam up. For one thing, I’m very cognizant of the flow of conversation between people. When they ask how other people are doing, do they mean it? Are they only waiting for another opportunity to insert a story of theirs into the conversation?
I can smell judgment like I was a dog trained to sniff it out. And I really notice people with whom conversation can never get deep. It’s like…I can sense when they don’t care enough. (I actually think we all can, but we learn to ignore it and to second guess ourselves.) And that makes me very hesitant to open up with them. Which is troubling, because what they probably really need is the feedback that they make people feel that way.
“I wonder what it is,” I said to Elizabeth. “Why I can’t be fully myself. Is it because I respect them, and don’t want them to think I’m difficult? Is it that I don’t actually feel connected enough to them to want to have a deep relationship, and so when they give advice, I just say ‘Mmhmm, mmhmm,’ and try to brush past it? What is it?”
“I don’t know girl,” she said, “and I’m the wrong person to ask.” (She also has some tricky extended relationships in her life. Thank god I’m not alone in this.)
What does it mean when we don’t allow ourselves to be fully seen?
Is it that we’re afraid that we’re unlovable?
Do we not trust the person in front of us? Have they not earned our vulnerability?
Is it not worth the effort to explain ourselves?
Do they not care enough, and on some level, we know that?
I feel like there’s a little tiny terrarium inside of me that says “Parenting” on it. And inside this little glass vessel are these teeny tiny little delicate plants, in a bed of superfine moss. As gentle as can be. If you sneeze too hard, you will disturb this thing.
Those are my feelings about my daughter. They are precious, they are sweet, they are soft.
And here someone comes with their big and loud advice, toting research and years to readiness and children’s potential, asking how I am but not listening to the answer, suggesting that I switch careers because my job isn’t a real job, and I just want to be like, Hey, that’s great, but can you take that somewhere else? I’m over here having these delicate feelings about my child and our bond and the trust that I’m fostering between us, and my life and the things I care about. So please, just go do that somewhere else. Thank you.