Listen, let me give you some advice on advice …

4:37 AM


I am such a hypocrite I can barely stand it.

Anyone who cares for children knows how annoying advice can be. When you’re pregnant you’re constantly told what to (or what not to) eat, wear, do and smell.

When you’ve got a newborn you’re constantly told how to (or how not to) feed, dress and soothe them. Presumably by the time they’re teenagers you’re telling them what to (or what not to) wear, listen to and ingest.

When I was first pregnant I got very prickly whenever anyone tried to tell me what I couldn’t eat or what aromatherapy candles I shouldn’t burn. Stupidly, I even got my aching back up over someone telling me I shouldn’t be cleaning the house!

In those first few weeks of motherhood I was smacked unkindly in the face with a crying baby who was constantly at me to generally put his every need before my own. Given my exhausted over-emotional state, I hid myself away from the world because I sensed that if one person gave me any unsolicited advice I would probably bludgeon them to death with a sawn off breast pump … had I the energy.

In fact, I even wrote a book for other new mums who were equally at the end of their tethers and who were probably confused and daunted by all the opinionated, conflicting - or even lack of – guidance slung their way.

Mums Are Wonderful! was my way of cutting to the heart of what new mums needed to hear to merely get through the day without jumping off the balcony … as opposed to what would help them get nominated for mother of the year.

My focus was, “Other people’s advice sucks. You don’t need to listen to anyone else. Just yourself. And me.”

How hypocritical is that?

But why stop there. Recently, a few of my close gal pals have started joining the Motherhood sect and guess who’s been there to lubricate the path to the delivery room with her pearls of wisdom? Yep, that’s right: yours truly, madly, Yoda-ly.

By the way, do you know the type of advice I hated most when I was pregnant the first time? The little gems that were unsubtle warnings about how dire your life is going to become once that little bundle of joy is popped out.

Comments like, “Make sure you get plenty of sleep now because you’ll never sleep a full night’s sleep again after the baby comes.” Or, “You guys better go out lots now because you won’t get to spend quality time together alone soon.” And “Labour pain is horrific. They don’t just ‘pop out’, you know!”

So, of course when the latest of my friends got knocked up and confided that she was relieved she was living close to the baby’s grandmother so they can leave the baby overnight occasionally and have a lie in, you know what I said, “Doesn’t matter. You’ll still wake early thinking about the baby anyway. Sorry.”

Despite sounding very far from sorry and in fact, quite smug, my enthusiasm over my friend’s pregnancy is actually a product of genuine excitement.

Because as much as I bitch and moan and scream like a fish wife at my kids, there is something inexplicably wonderful about the whole thing.

Well, it’s a theory.

Or maybe being a mum is just so intense that us women, being the emotional, nurturing, bonding treasures that we are, need to share our maternal experiences.

A few weeks back, my aforementioned friend emailed me a number of questions about pregnancy, hospital and preparation for a newborn. I responded quickly with rich and wordy emails to help educate her on the journey ahead. The more questions she asked, the more I responded with sage, tribal elder style pontification.

After a while, even in my fervour it struck me just how much I was getting off on talking about myself and my experiences. So, I sent her a belated disclaimer:

BTW – these are all just my experiences and ideas. Yours will most likely be v. diff to mine … but I luv sharing them and if they help you out, that’s just a bonus! xox

We women love to exchange stories about our experiences. All the other members of my mothers’ group and I have told and retold our labour and delivery stories almost continually for over 4 years now. And I’m guessing these conversations will continue indefinitely. We all pretend we’ve never heard them before and take great pleasure in reliving every excruciating detail again and again.

Unsolicited, insensitive advice-giving can be the absolute worst. It can make someone feel resentful or scared or it can cause bad blood between two people. However, hearing about other peoples’ experiences and their strategies for coping and thriving - free from doctrine or dogma - can be just what the gynaecologist ordered.

So in the spirit of living, learning and sharing I asked a whole range of people what was the best piece of advice they ever received (about anything). Their answers follow.

And, I would love to hear from you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? And/or what’s the best piece of advice (about anything) you could give? (leave a comment or email me)



WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?

Life can only be understood backwards, but you have to live it forwards.

When one door closes, another one soon opens.

Build a bridge. Get over it.

Always go with your gut instinct.If you want anything done right, do it yourself.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

If you don’t succeed the first time, try again.

There’s no such thing as can’t.

There’s no time like the present.

If it is to be, it’s up to me.

It’s not timing the market, its time in the market.

After touching this chilli, don’t rub your fanny. (Don’t ask!)

Opinions are like … (ahem) bellybuttons … everyone has one.

Life is what happens when you're waiting for life to happen.

No man is worth your tears and the one who is wont make you cry.

Engage the brain before you engage the mouth. Or …

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

Odds on; look on. Don’t run up stairs. Never eat meat pies on Mondays. (This one’s curtesy of my late grandfather. I never really understood them when I was a kid, but I kind of like them now).

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