Too often people beat me over the head with their opinions, disguised as facts. I have a few good friends, and a wonderful husband, who are accepting and non-judgmental; who embrace the concept of "live and let live", just as I do. Many others - most notably, my family - are quite the opposite. It is only recently that I've realized their browbeating lectures are about opinions, not facts. And that as such, my disagreeing with them doesn't make me a bad, ignorant, or naive person.
Here are phrases you use when you respectfully discuss your opinions:
"What worked for me was ..."
"In my experience ..."
"The best solution for our family was ..."
"I found that for me personally ..."
Here are phrases you use when you discuss your opinions, cleverly disguised as facts:
"The thing is ..."
"That's not the way it works, how it works is ..."
"Here's the deal ..."
"You need to ..."
I firmly believe that every family is different. I know I've never done this (labour, parenting) before, but neither has anyone else been through my specific experience or parented my child. Can we all just admit that there's no one right way? Can we all just accept that everyone's going to do things differently, and if we absolutely must offer advice and opinions, be upfront about their subjective nature rather than presenting them as facts?
I know I'm more sensitive than most, and take things to heart more than I should. That's how I am, and I accept that. I cherish the friends I have who are also accepting and understanding, who allow me the space and safety to be who I am without saying (even to themselves) "That's not how I would do things!" I strive to be as accepting and non-judgmental as they are.
Another thing that makes me crazy is when people assume that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I get brushed off like this all the time, especially on the decision Chris and I have made to have only one child. Our decision was based on several immutable facts: finances; our ages; environmental impact; the challenges that pregnancy put me through; and the cold ugly fact that we believe we'll be much better able to parent the way we want to if we keep the parent-to-kid ratio in our favour. With the possible exception of winning the lottery, none of these factors are going to change in two years. But when I tell people we're only having one, they say, "Oh, wait two years, you'll feel differently." Yes, I may feel differently. But that is the key. Feel differently. Not think differently. I think a decision based on logic and rational thinking is more valuable than one based on emotion and whimsy. It's entirely likely that in two years, I will long for another child. But does that change any of our reasons for sticking with one? No. Why do people assume I am incapable of making decisions with a longer shelf life than two years? No one says, "Oh, in two years you'll really regret having a kid." They trust me to have figured out this decision correctly, so why not the corresponding one?
Anyway, enough with the ranting and the rhetorical questions. Obviously, I once again have people telling me how to live my life, how to birth my child, and how to raise her. Furthermore, because I am extra-sensitive to this kind of stuff the people in question would probably be bewildered to learn that this is how I experience their indubitably well-intentioned guidance. I am going to have to grow a much thicker skin to survive the trial by fire that is motherhood.