Saturday 21 April 2018

Diary of a working mum: Unsolicited advice is part and parcel of being a parent

Irish Independent magazine editor Yvonne Hogan.
Pictures James Horan/Collins
Irish Independent magazine editor Yvonne Hogan. Pictures James Horan/Collins

Yvonne Hogan

You gotta love the unsolicited advice that you get as a parent. Three times this week I have been advised on the timing of my 'next' baby:

"Are you going to go again soon?" a nice old lady I am just about on nodding terms with asked me in the supermarket. "You should. It is much easier when they are close in age. And it's nice for them to have a little friend."

"You don't want her to be getting lonely now" a colleague remarked, after enquiring about the wellbeing of my daughter.

And my favourite, which came courtesy of a friend of a friend: "Don't leave it too long. You were late starting as it is and you don't want to be up to your neck in nappies in your mid 40s." Ouch!

To be honest, I don't particularly mind people sticking their noses into my business. I grew up in Cork, so I am used to it and I am a nosey old thing myself, given to having conversations with strangers.

And I do get a kick out of some of the assumptions people make.

A friend of mine was telling me recently of a colleague of hers, a big career woman who loves her job and didn't get around to having her child until a decade or so into her marriage. She was lucky enough to get pregnant pretty much straight away but nothing could convince her extended family that she hadn't been silently and stoically undergoing fertility treatment for years and that her career was but a consolation. "A miracle baby" they would say in hushed tones whenever the subject of the child came up. "They were waiting 10 years. A miracle baby."

But sometimes, it can be annoying. Particularly when someone asks a question or makes a suggestion that hits a nerve. In the past two weeks I have been irked/angered/almost reduced to tears by: Do you not miss her when you are at work? Can you not go part-time? Why don't you do a load of batch cooking at the weekends and freeze it? Would you not get a nice woman to come to the house instead of putting her in that creche with all the germs? It's such a lovely age, do you not miss being with her when she is changing so quickly?

Unsolicited advice is part and parcel of being a parent. People like to tell other people what to do and when you have a child you cannot avoid other people. Be it school, creche, childminder, playground or library, a child will drag you into the community no matter how misanthropic you may wish to be. You literally cannot mind your own business. Because a child is everybody's business. And I suppose that's the way it should be.

Follow Yvonne on Twitter @YvonneHogan



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