I recently read an awesome blog on HuffPost Parents about a proposed New Years Resolution for mommas “to be less offended in 2016.” The blog pokes fun of how parents today can be quick to ward off unsolicited comments as out of line, when most of the time such commentary is well-intended.
I’ve already experienced a glimpse of this tension as I enter my third trimester. I get emails providing advice on “how to keep strangers away from your belly,” which makes me giggle that there are whole articles dedicated to such a topic. And when it comes to “real talk” with other moms, there always seems to be a disclaimer of sorts, “I know you may not want unsolicited advice, but if I may …”
It’s ironic, because the unspoken support network that exists between mothers is fierce. Yet, there’s this sense of tip toeing around each other when it comes to navigating birthing plans and parenting preferences.
It got me thinking – are new moms really all that sensitive?
Today, we are constantly sharing our thoughts on social media, and blogging has equipped us with publishing power that previously only existed in the hands of media. This means that our circles have multiplied, and our most basic conversations have globalized.
Pre-digital era, mothers didn’t have this continuous “buzz” pinging them with round-the-clock information, discussions and debates. They simply had their friends, family and neighbors who were on-call to support them when needed. This new “digital motherhood” as I like to call it opens the doors for more perspectives, and, the larger your circle, the more likely your ideals will clash with others.
I think a positive of this is that moms today are actually building a thicker skin and greater level of tolerance toward the various approaches to motherhood out there, which are now being shared and debated more than ever. But I also think there is a such thing as over sharing – letting all of the discussions inundate our lives – which leaves mommies fatigued by all of the baby talk, and ultimately, defensive rather than tolerant.
Cutting through this noise and striking a balance between information gathering and information overload was my biggest challenge in the first trimester. Those first 12 weeks were honestly overwhelming, uncomfortable and surreal. I began getting swarmed with to-do lists, warnings and advice. It would start the second I woke up, with my pregnancy app waking me to inform me of all the ugly symptoms I’d likely experience, to which it wanted me to document so that it could make fancy charts.
Between that and the new string of emails covering topics I didn’t even know I needed to read about, targeted baby ads taking over my newsfeed, and online parenting columns tempting me with their pressing headlines – Ten things you MUST know about giving birth that NO ONE else tells you – I hit a digital mommy breakdown somewhere around the beginning of my second trimester.
I just needed to unplug, and I bought the good old-fashioned “What to expect when you’re expecting” book as I let my daily logs slide on my pregnancy app. I decided to start living through my pregnancy, rather than trying to anticipate it. And when I did this, I gained confidence in my own intuition, making for more enjoyable discussions both online and offline about my coming little miracle.
So my answer is both “yes” and “no.” We’re more sensitive because we have to re-define our personal boundaries in today’s new digital era where everything about motherhood is in the spotlight, and often, being criticized. At the same time, I argue that this makes us stronger, because we have to make our own choices and stick by them through an immense amount of noise and pressure today.
I hate seeing people walk on eggshells around my big belly, hesitating with what to say and how to say it. But I also understand the very real fatigue that comes from simply too much baby talk these days.
Mommas, this all comes down to us at the end of the day. Cut through the noise and find trust in your own decisions. Conflicting pieces of advice are inevitable, whether they come online or offline, but if we remain confident in our choices then all the baby talk is just that – baby talk.