Psst, know what? You are not obligated to defend your parenting decisions.

I’ll explain parenting decisions to my children, sometimes, because I believe that rationality begets rationality. I’ll explain to my husband, sometimes, if he asks.

But at other times, the phrase, “because I’m the Mama” needs to stand alone. And that’s OK.

My dear friend, a gorgeous perfect Mama, has a gorgeous perfect toddler. This means it’s her stage of life to run the Helpful Stranger Advice Gauntlet.

I can offer only this consolation: eventually your children grow up to a point where they aren’t all that interesting to Helpful Strangers.

At risk of sounding smug, it’s been a long time since someone asked my child, “Where are your socks, honey?” In the grocery store. To my child, who was eight months old. While I was standing right freakin’ there.

Gosh, I guess my infant plain forgot her socks. Thank you for caring. I’m so glad you said something. I’ll be sure to remind her about that now.

It’s been a long time since someone asked me, “Why isn’t she in kindergarten yet?”

Because I felt she needed another year. Thank you for caring. I’m so glad you said something. I’ll be sure to second-guess myself about that now.

It’s been a long time since a Helpful Stranger started a conversation with me (or my child, as if I was invisible) about sunscreen (presence or absence of), gluten (I shouldn’t), dairy (ditto), a jacket (absence of), carseats (I hope your Mommy picked a good one), and/or nursing (duration of), that last being a particular doozy:

Other Mama: “She’s sooo precious!  And are you still nursing?”

Me (without thinking): “Good grief, no, she’s almost three.”

Other Mama (coldly): “Mine’s four, and I’m still nursing her.”

It’s taken me years to fully grasp that, while I am sorry she felt offended, I didn’t start that conversation.

Over eight years, the only useful incident of Helpful Stranger advice I can recall is the woman who gently expressed concern that Dragon Girl was doing baby Parkour in the shopping cart while my back was turned. Good to know, right?

Plus, as a special-needs teacher, this woman actually had worked with children who had fallen out of shopping carts onto their heads and sustained brain damage. She said that she’s taken on a personal mission to prevent this 100% preventable injury, and she hoped I would not take offense.

That one, yes, fair enough. (I was rattled enough that I’m sharing it here, right?)

But that’s one. In eight years.

So, dear friend, to tide you over until your gorgeous perfect child becomes less interesting to well-meaning meddlers:

It’s OK: Today’s Takeaways

  • You know your child better than you know anyone in the universe (including, possibly, yourself by this time).
  • You know perfectly well if your child is lacking food, sleep, attention, or clothing.
  • Every now and then, yes, children will get scuffed and sunburned. Arms break. Teeth go missing. Stairs and coffee tables and trees and monkey bars and sleds all will have their day.
  • You’ll own all of that, if the time comes. Nobody will own it like you will.
  • But, at all times, you’re the Mama.
  • And that, plus perhaps a sociable “thank you for caring,” is all you need to say.