Advice, Insomina, and Rachael Ray

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I wrote a post many moons ago, before Emerson was a twinkle in my eye, where I gave advice to new moms on what to wear. I got mega flack from it. Angry mothers emailed me, left comments, even stopped me on the street to tell me I have no idea what I was talking about. If I am not a mother, I can’t possibly understand what a mother deals with.

I apologized to the moms, but I felt the feedback was a tad harsh. I had dealt with a busy schedule, a job that left me messy and stained at the end of the day, I had friends who were mothers, I had been a personal shopper for new mothers. Heck, I even did some reading on the subject before writing the post!

This weekend I wasn’t feeling well, I ended up waking at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I watched some random crap on OnDemand, and then switched to the OWN network and caught an episode of the Rachael Ray show. A mother of several children was asking for advice regarding how to fly as a family without the rest of the plane hating their guts. Her children were sweet, but they would fight and scream and get bored and antsy. Rachael began her advice, comparing this mother’s situation to when Rachael flies with her dog.

I now understood why those moms went off on me for my fashion post.

rant about rachael ray twitter
A mother with insomnia and a Twitter account… a dangerous combination

Rachael Ray turned me into one of those irate moms emailing me over my clueless fashion post. It’s not like those without children can’t “get” it. It’s that no mother will appreciate parenting advice when it comes not only from someone who doesn’t have children, but someone who makes it sound as though having a pampered pit bull is the same as having three children under the age of 10.

I realized the issue with my post wasn’t about the advice – I defend it and when I became a mom still found my suggestions helpful. The problem with my post was my tone, my attitude, the way my words pretty much said, “Stop making excuses and get yourself a new shirt, you tacky woman.” How Rachael Ray may have had decent suggestions for this mom, but they were missed because that mom was probably like me, seeing red after hearing how you should wear your kids out, like how Rachael lets Isaboo run around the yard a few times before getting in her crate.

Once I became a mom, I felt the whole world seemed to have advice for me or was judging me. Judging my choice to breastfeed, judging my choice to go back to work, judging how I carried my baby, how I dressed me baby, and how I dressed myself. Geez Louise, I just tore a human being out of my body two months ago, I’m glad the two of us are alive, I really don’t have space in my brain right now for a coordinated and clean ensemble. Since then, I try to remember to not give advice on a topic I know nothing about. Clothing is only one part of the puzzle, but the person in those clothes is the most important piece.

So thanks Rachael Ray, for reminding me about the most important aspect of advice – the person who is asking for it. And my suggestion to you? How about a Mom blogger as a guest correspondent for parenting segments?

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  1. This was an awesome post.

    I’m 23 and I’m a pre-pharmacy student/avid gamer with a 17 month-old boy who was born prematurely and needs extra attention.

    People who aren’t in my position trying to give advice about things I deal with and how I deal with those things really makes me upset. I like when people I can relate to give advice, like you. I know some people mean well, but sometimes advice is more hurtful than helpful.

    Please keep writing this blog, I love all your posts and I can relate to struggling to look nice with a child, even though your daughter is older than my son.

    P.S. I also blog about my experiences hoping to find others like me out there. 🙂

  2. To me, the weird thing is the lack of expertise. If she’d asked Rachel about, for example, healthy lunchbox ideas for kids, I think Rachel would easily be able to offer good suggestions. One doesn’t need to be a parent for that. Same thing with a stylist/fashion blogger offering style and dressing pointers – it’s your speciality to help different types of people dress. You don’t necessary have to be a mother to offer ideas on how to dress a post-partum body.

    1. Well any talk show host doesn’t know everything about everything, but most talk shows have an expert come in and do a quick 5-minute piece about that subject. Having her do the advice was a poor decision for what you stated – lack of expertise. I guess her producers want to show her as a lifestyle expert instead of cooking expert? I wouldn’t blink at advice on her giving advice on how to set a table for a holiday, organize your closet, create a monthly budget, but parenting and comparing it to something not like parenting gave me the rages 🙂

  3. Guess what? Back then when you did not have Emerson and I had 3 small children and NO CLUE I did find your advice helpful, very helpful actually, and I am very grateful for that. Maybe it is because I had no clue even when I had no babies and plenty of time to take care of myself,but would not know where to start and, or especially, what would have looked good on me and would have made me feel great about myself in no time. Possibly those women that before motherhood were accustomed to taking care of their body and image all of a sudden found themselves in a completely new world for which they had to learn new strategies could get irritated by the advice of someone who is not a mom yet. Keep up the good work! I wanted to write to you after the post in which you justify your income from this blog: hey, it is completely deserved, your advice IS worth money and I am glad that you can monetize your knowledge (as I said, some of us have/used to have NO CLUE) and that one of you can stay home with your daughter.

    1. Probably because she wanted to be on TV. Her new talk show is so random, I think we all know she’s only expert in food and maybe dogs but she’s now some sort of lifestyle expert offering tips on organization, home decor, fashion and even parenting. Mega fail.

    2. Consider the source. She’s got no kids so her dog is her frame of reference.
      Anyway, letting your kids run around in the terminal before getting on a flight isn’t a bad idea. It’s way better than making everybody happy by getting them a Starbucks while they wait.
      Lots of times they’ve been strapped into car seats on the way to the airport. They need something physical to do.

      1. Well a decent talk show host I would think would do her homework. And it was clear that she did – she shared a portable DVD player among other distractions. And I fully agree letting the kids run around is a good idea, but it’s how she phrased it, well I let Isaboo race around the yard until she wears herself out and then pops her in the crate… it just was so clear that someone told her the suggestions and she added her spin to make it Rachael and the whole thing was a big FAIL. 🙂

        1. Ok, I will play defender to RR. She & I go way back (haha, well, I have been watching her for years and she is really sweet in person) but seriously, her talk show has been on for a VERY long time (2007) and she often has experts on to give advice on subjects like parenting, etc., things she says she admittedly doesn’t know much about. The episode that you are referencing must be an older one because usually she will bring in either a psychologist or parenting experts to commiserate on such subjects.

          I also must be so out of the loop when it comes to advice from non parents because I don’t think I’ve ever gotten mad about this sort of thing as a mom… at least not yet. I’m sure I have time though. ha!

          and I will say this much- I can’t even imagine people getting pissed at you over giving fashion advice pre-Emerson or post- you are always super diplomatic give thoughtful suggestions!

  4. I have to wonder why a mother of three was asking Rachael Ray for advice in the first place. I mean, advice about cooking quick meals, sure, but not about how to fly with three children.

  5. This post really hit home for me. I stopped myself last week from writing a post on Facebook about some of my opinions about some of the ways that kids are being raised in our society today. I decided not to post it. I became concerned that since I’m not a parent, I have no business judging people on their parenting. Being an opinionated person, it was a good personal lesson in reflection. We all have our opinions and that’s normal but those opinions should sometimes be kept to ourselves.

      1. I have to respectfully disagree with that statement. I don’t have any children of my own but I do have children in my life that I am very close to and feel responsible for. Just because I don’t have a child doesn’t mean that I can’t and shouldn’t have a positive influence in their growth and development. That influence should never interfere with their parents. However, we all, regardless of whether we have children or not are responsible for being positive role models and influences in the raising of children. Some of the most important people in my life, those who had tremendous impact on me in a positive way, were not my parents and didn’t have children.

        1. I’m sorry! I should have added a sarcastic wink to my comment! I have no children either. But what I’ve found in the last 10 or 15 years is that if you don’t have kids, many people believe that you have nothing valuable to say. And that hurts, because I feel like I should be able to say ‘Poor baby looks tired’ or ‘what worked with me when I was 5 years old was XYZ’ without Mama thinking I’m judging her parenting. Mary Poppins would find a tough crowd these days.

          1. I am really happy how this exchange turned out. I agree with both of you that you don’t need to be a parent to be a caring, supportive, and influential person in a child’s life. I’d be honored to have both of you in my village and would welcome your advice and assistance! <3

          2. No apologies needed. Sarcasm isn’t exactly evident on the web. 🙂 I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been given the same looks, mostly by people I know casually or by a helicopter parent. Luckily the people who know me well don’t do that (at least not to my face). So many people are super sensitive that you are criticizing them instead of just believing that you are trying to help or be friendly.

          3. I just wanted to add another perspective. If my son and I were at the point of a “poor baby looks tired” comment from a stranger, you would probably be stating the obvious and it wouldn’t actually be helpful to me and would probably make me feel like you thought I was completely incompetent/ignorant of the whole mothering my child thing. If I know my child is tired and close to meltdown mode, I’m already trying my best to get the heck outta Dodge. A cheerful, un-annoyed smile would feel more supportive to me. This is a stranger to stranger perspective. If we know each other and/or are engaged in an actual conversation, I would be much more open to unsolicited advice. I think that because there seems to be so much judgement of parenting decisions coming from all different avenues today that parents often feel like all comments are derogatory and are therefore defensive as an instinctive reflex.

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