Food Spoils and Encouragement Never Goes out of Style

Saturday, March 28, 2015
As a mom, I’ve been bombarded with advice and commentary from well-meaning friends, family, and strangers. After baby number two was born, I started hearing “you’ve got your hands full” and now with four children, I hear that line more often. There’s also the occasional “you know you’re going to spoil that baby,” “crying is good for her,” “she has to learn sometime,” and “if you didn’t carry her all the time, she’d sleep through the night.” I can’t think of another time in life when advice and commentary is so abundant. Parenting is a tough job, and I’ve come to realize that those commenting are well meaning. Those comments however do not fit in the category of warm and fuzzy, especially when you are sleep deprived and feeling inadequate. The takeaway from these experiences has left me with a lesson I hope to remember as I age out of the new mom phase of life. That lesson is: Encouragement Never Goes out of Style.

Twenty years from now, I will forget about the extra laundry, the spit up in my hair, the frustration with breast feeding, and the overwhelming self-doubt. I will hopefully look at a new mom and tell her how great she looks instead of commenting about how full her hands are or how much time she hasn’t got. When I am invited to visit a new mom, I will call ahead offering to bring drugstore and grocery items so she doesn’t have to leave home (or get out of her bathrobe). When I arrive, I will bear meals ready to pop in the oven and instead of offering to hold the new baby, I will fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, and vacuum. I’ll assure her about baby’s weight, compliment her on what a great job she is doing, and not once will I contradict her parenting style.

I have chosen to raise my family using ‘Attachment Parenting’ methods, but I do not think the other methods are wrong or other mothers are making mistakes. I have chosen a parenting style that works best with our family. I babywear, cloth diaper, and don’t use formula. This doesn’t make me right and you wrong. I don’t want to hear how carrying my baby is going to spoil her. She doesn’t always smell magical, but she’s never smelled like that Tupperware container of molding broccoli…now that broccoli…that’s spoiled! My baby is not.

Andre with Crystal
If I want to strike up a conversation with a new mother, I will ask how old her baby is instead of if he or she sleeps through the night (because if you don’t know…most of us are up every hour or two and when you ask if our littles are sleeping through the night we basically want to kick you in the knee caps because you have just implied we must be doing something wrong because we are just thankful when they sleep long enough to let us shower and shave a partial leg). I will tell her how cute her baby is or I’ll offer to carry something for her instead of stating “You’ve got your hands full.”

I can’t change the well-meaning comments that sometimes cut like a dagger. For now I just smile
politely. These sleep deprived, showerless days are really just a small part of life as we know it. They’ll be behind us soon enough. We will remember the giggles, the chubby baby thighs, and friends who dropped by with coffee and kind words. We won’t remember the frustration, self-doubt, or the 3am feedings that left us too exhausted to find matching socks. Hopefully we will remember how it felt to be encouraged by friends, family and strangers and we will pass along that warm fuzzy feeling instead of the advice and commentary.

Thanks for listening, but now it’s your turn! What is the nicest thing someone did for you when you were a new parent? What are some ideas you can pass along to those of us hoping to visit a new parent? AND/OR What is the oddest thing someone said to you about your parenting?

Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 7, Andre 6, Breccan 16 months, and Delphine 1 month), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at:

Special thanks for Olivia Brey of Oh! Photography for the great photos you see above as well as for her friendship, special delivery coffee, and warm meals that have warmed the heart of this entire family!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Gorgeous photos! My lawyer's girlfriend just had her first baby and I've made meals for them and brought them care packages. Since I've never had kids, I really didn't know what she needed, so I just asked! She said "food" and specifically Thai, curries, and basmati rice. Since those are my specialties, I've been making her a meal with plenty of leftovers once a week, and now her baby is getting curry-flavored milk. LOL I think maybe people don't know what to do or say, and in that case it never hurts to ask, "What can I do for you?"

Crystal Otto said...

You're spot on and I wish I lived closer to you!!!! You're amazing!

Margo Dill said...

I had a special circumstance too because Katie was in the NICU for a month, but people started giving us gift cards for restaurants around the hospital so we could leave for an hour to go eat. This was actually important although I never wanted to leave. But getting out for an hour actually refreshes you and gets you ready to go back with a positive attitude.

Crystal Otto said...

Great suggestion! I struggle with what would be appropriate in that type of situation. Thanks for sharing!

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