Take my advice - don’t give other mums any advice...

Fruit Shoot kid

Fruit Shoot kid - Credit: Archant

Having a baby is a time of happiness and celebration. But nothing prepares us for the parenting ‘advice’ and judgement. It should be illegal to say the following to a shattered mum when you bump into her in town, particularly if you do not know her:

Just you wait until he’s such and such an age...

You notice me enjoying sweet snuggles with my little one. Envious, you drop this bombshell. Surely there will be challenges ahead. This moment is not reflective of all the moments. When he’s nearly three he will likely be clinging to shop shelves, kicking and shrieking for Thomas trains until he turns red. That doesn’t mean I can’t cherish this cosy calm cuddle now.

Oh he’s poorly/hungry/grumpy

None of the above, nope. Not sick, starving or sad. How hateful it is when drained, I take a walk to help him sleep, and an unknown woman walks past. “Somebody is unhappy today!” Yes, you when I punch you in the face.

Is he warm/cool enough?

A natural follow on from the previous gem and as annoying. If the stranger thinks he’s an unhappy baby, it is obviously because he is the wrong temperature. The stranger reckons he could do with more or less clothing. Either he is too hot or chilly. My patience is waning as I explain that in the last 50 years, attitudes have changed and research shows it can be dangerous to wrap them up too warm. By God’s grace the stranger’s bundled-up babies made adulthood. Next time I see her, I will definitely say that.

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Have you taken him to the doctor?

Why have I not sought immediate medical expertise? Um, because babies teethe and Calpol helps. Have you seen a doctor about your intense impulse to dish out comment to random mothers in town? Maybe it is a personality disorder? Quick, call your GP! It could prove fatal - especially if you do not disappear soon.

When mine did that, I did this...

And you’re telling me that for what reason? You are not me. My child is not yours. This is now not then. We are two different people in separate lives. Generations apart. Be gone.

You look tired!

If you hadn’t slept for seven years, you would too. You look really old. Since we haven’t met before, it’s hard to say how much you have aged but as you felt the need to tell me how tired I look, I bet that you have aged far more unkindly than you would have desired. Growing old disgracefully by insulting strangers in shops has clearly done your face no favours. Maybe there is justice after all...

Fruit Shoot? Haven’t you heard? What will become of him?

There’s more sugar in a single Fruit Shoot than in all the Tesco supermarkets in Britain. If I dare to let my child drink one, I’ll end up with a toothless heroin addict psycho-killer with myself to blame. And those evil manufacturers who prey on small people accidentally turning them into murderous narcissists. Calm down, love - it’s only a Fruit Shoot. As she walked away, I could still hear her muttering: “And don’t even get me started on Capri-Sun.”

Basically don’t say anything or at least nothing controversial. Every day I do my absolute best and we are fine. If you would do it differently, that is OK. My kid my rules.

So read this. Cut it out and keep it in your purse perhaps. Heed it well, lady (because men never say these things): don’t say them. Don’t even think them.

But if you do, keep those nonsense thoughts in your brain and repeat after me: “She did not ask my advice. I am a stranger. I do not know this person, her history, situation or offspring. It is not making conversation because she is busy and not interested in my opinions or cliché-based wisdom.

“I am not Claire Rayner, Dear Deidre, Supernanny, Mary Berry, Mary Poppins, Mary Mother of Jesus or Dr Chris, Dr Miriam Stoppard or Dr Ranj. I am simply a woman with vocal cords and one perspective, which doesn’t matter to this exhausted shadow of a former self, who only came in to M&S to pick up a little pot of profiteroles as her life’s reward.”

And after you’ve remembered to say that generic widely applicable mantra to yourself, I will have run far away into the next female judge who has hopefully also read this article.