Did I mention I used to be a diplomat? It’s something that seems so far away even though there are signifiers in the house that remind me of exotic places and people, lunches with rock stars and prestigious neighbors (I still have the latter two – my wife is an excellent lunch companion and my neighbor always returns my shovel). The major difference now that I’ve given up world travel for libraries is that I’m less likely to choose pretty language over fact.
Most of the time, this elicits either uncomfortable sidling away or “Ooh, I love that you’re so frank!” Here is a picture of that ratio.
To be clear, I still adhere to some social grace. I’m not cruel and I don’t believe in telling the whole truth or, sometimes, even most of it. I spend a lot of time at “refreshingly blunt” (actual words once actually said to me by an actual person) and next to no time at “telling you what you want to hear” (Never actually said by anyone because hearing me do this is like spotting a unicorn. A UNICORN BEING RIDDEN BY A MERMAID.)
This parenting thing is fraught with lingual land mines. Breastfeed or bottle. Cloth or disposable. I don’t even have to say any more do I? You completely understand. It seems that no matter what your decision is, someone has very strong opinions about it. Furthermore, they’d like to tell you all about it. Often, they’re another parent, someone who should know better.
Recently we had dinner with due-at-the-same-time work colleagues. It was a lovely evening but one in which I spent prepared to launch diplomacy initiatives at any moment. Sure, we’re doing some things similarly (D is digging stumps occasionally while her counterpart tries to shovel snow). But we’re also doing things differently (finding out the sex of the baby, etc.) Just like circumcision, this is one of those sticky wickets. For those of you that don’t plan to find out, how many times have you heard BEST SURPRISE EVER? And often, the speaker’s tone implies that anything else is a half as good decision. I’m sure for those of you that didn’t find out, you had an equal number of folks proclaim your choice THE BEST DECISION EVER.
I spend more time than I’d like couching my parenting decisions in a diplomatic cloud of mediocrity. It’s amazing that people who wouldn’t dream of telling you that fuchsia is not your best color don’t hold their tongue when it comes to parenting choices. So in case it isn’t clear – I totally support your choices. I think you are the BEST PARENT EVER and I’ll bet you think the same of me. We’re super terrific. Yay us!