When I was a little girl, I was really skinny. And because I loved swimming and used to stay in the pool for hours on end (this was, clearly, before I found out about harmful UV rays!), I was also terribly tanned. In fact, I once went to a kopitiam to buy a drink and was told by the stall owner that she had wanted to speak Malay to me because she didn’t think I was Chinese.
So picture this: a tiny girl, with sticks for limbs and brown as a monkey.
Needless to say, I grew up with a lot of unnecessary comments coming to me from all quarters. People would tease me for being thin, ask if I was eating, wonder if I were suffering from an illness, and call me a “malnourished African refugee”. Suffice to say, I hated it. It was mean and sometimes cruel. But of course, they never realised just how hurtful it was to say such things to a child.
My mother, too, had to endure similar comments, except hers was in the region of “are you starving your child?”. It was strange, too, because I was so different from my normal-sized sister. She brought me to see several doctors in hopes of finding out what was wrong with me, only to be told: “As long as she is healthy and happy, she is fine. Leave her alone.”
And just like that, she decided she would ignore the naysayers and get on with our lives.
Now that I am a mother, I have come to realise that we are so easily swayed by others’ words. Of course, that is only because we love and care for our child so deeply. When Aidan was in the phase of only taking short naps, I was constantly fretting, because everyone around me was telling me that I was doing it wrong. I know there were those who blamed breastfeeding (he wasn’t full!) and me (I don’t know how to raise a child!). We went to see THREE pediatricians who told me three different things: that he was HUNGRY, that he was OVERFEEDING and therefore had REFLUX, and that it was my fault because I didn’t set a routine for him.
In the end, we just have to go with the flow and trust our instincts. It’s hard to block out rude and intrusive comments, especially when they come from family, but we just have to remind ourselves that the child is ours, not theirs.
And ultimately, EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT.
I still worry, of course. Even though A has now grown to take longer naps, there are other things to obsess over. His lack of interest in self-feeding, his poo (too often or too watery or too hard or too few times…you get the drift), his multiple night wakings, his delay in hitting the physical milestones, his lack of teeth. We are always hit by comments on why he is/isn’t doing something.
But we have come to realise that it is futile to worry. Simply because babies evolve and things change. If we were to fret over every single little detail and listen to every piece of advice, we would go mad.
So we just do.
We roll up our sleeves and get on with the programme.
We just do the best we can.
And as long as my little man is growing and thriving and clearly a happy little chappy, we are doing it right.
6 thoughts on “Every mother’s kryptonite”
You were the most gorgeous little child! You are so right – he’s your son, nobody knows him like you. E.’s now two years old and I have to say: it gets easier, meaning that I’m more confident in my/our opinion. But again you are so right: there’s just so much to worry about out there! 🙂
Amen to that! And you are doing an awesome job you… I’m forever getting comments on David’s size. And his hair. And his small appetite (now) when he used to eat huge portions in his pre-toddler days… heh heh.
these days, i just nod and think to myself, “whatever man! these are my kids.”
Yup, it’s hard not to let comments get to you, esp when they are from close quarters. My take on all this is here – http://littlebluebottle.blogspot.sg/2012/09/how-motherhood-has-changed-me.html
Ultimately, the fact that our kid has no serious health condition is a great boon already…
it’s so much easier to deal with when you know the person is an outsider and just being “kaypoh”.. but when the person is family and actually wants to mean well by giving “advice”, it can be hard to actually express it to tell them to leave you alone to parent. big hugs, chin up and I believe to that as long as the child is happy and healthy, you are doing a great job 🙂
Ai @ Sakura Haruka
I get it too! They’d ask how old my younger daughter is and then pause for a moment and say “But she’s really small for an 8-month old, isn’t she?” I’ve learnt to just smile and ignore. It’s true – mums know best. Keep calm, ignore, and carry on 🙂 You’re doing great