Sunday, May 7, 2017

Swallowing Your Pride

I don't think there is a person in the world who likes to be told that they are wrong.

I mean, maybe I'm wrong (don't feel like you need to tell me), but unless I've actually asked, it feels like a huge blow to my ego to have someone come up to me and say "umm...actually..."

I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's because that, since I'm an adult now, I need to feel like I'm somewhat in control, and getting confirmation that I don't quite know what I'm doing hurts. Whenever I have a random brain fart and make a comical mistake, I always joke around with "yeah, and I'm the one responsible for my teaching my kids." But those are silly mistakes that I know I make, just off the cuff. And when you can laugh at yourself, it isn't so bad.

But let me tell you, there was no more humiliating moment than when I was pulled aside by a few of my daughter's teachers and told that I handled an interpersonal situation incorrectly. When I get embarrassed, I get really defensive, and I had to bite my tongue, swallow my pride, and just nod and say "thank you for letting me know."

For years, I told every single new mom that the best product I'd ever used with the Rock and Play sleeper. I used it as a bassinet for both girls. The angle was perfect for their reflux, the coziness was great for keeping them feeling secure, and I could slide the sleeper from room to room without waking them. I loved it and I wanted to share that love with every new mom.

Then one of them told me I was lucky that my daughter's escaped all the horrors. In the years since my girls graduated from this sleeper, the AAP has actually come out against letting babies sleep in it. It can promote flat head syndrome, it poses a risk of chin to chest asphyxiation, and it's not a firm surface.

I was humiliated again. Not only I had just completely admitted to using it - a lot - I was also admitting to spreading my incorrect information to multiple new moms. I went from "experienced advice giver" to "crappy mom showed up by a pregnant woman ten years her junior". Hard to swallow, especially with the lame "oh...well, it was different five years ago" excuse.

I feel like moms are particularly sensitive to this. We know we have these huge responsibilities, we already feel insecure, and we certainly don't need any validation that, actually, we're doing everything wrong, just as we feared. So when we are called on something, we get defensive. We lash out. And sometimes, we double down on the mistake, just to prove to ourselves that we've got this. It happens with baby stuff, and car seat safety, and educational requirements, and childcare laws, and all kinds of stuff.

But here's the thing. As much as I hate it, as much as I relive the conversation as I'm falling asleep and feel a fresh wash a shame every time, I'm glad that someone felt confident enough to, politely, let me know.

Goes without saying that if you are smug, or rude, or condescending, you are a huge part of the reason that people hate hearing corrections, and, I hope you realize, karma IS, in fact, going to get you eventually.

If I'm using a buckle wrong, I can fix it. If recommendations have changed, I want to know.

Even if it hurts to swallow that pride sometimes.
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