I am in the land of ubermums. I am on holiday with relatives and have been meeting lots of mums whose main occupation seems to be giving me advice. I know they are trying to be helpful, but it has the effect, when you have had four children, of feeling like they are trying to undermine you or think you are basically a rubbish mother. Maybe I give off an aura of total incompetence. I seem to be coming across a fair number of women recently who constantly feel the need to pass on handy hints on all manner of things to do with children, eg, how to handle eczema, which GP to use, how to handle teething babies, etc, etc. I know about teething. I have lived through it four times. I don’t need any tips. I just want sympathy about the sleep deprivation.
The thing about these ubermums is that their ubermumdom is probably a mask for their own lack of confidence, but I want to say don’t do it by undermining mine. I mentioned in passing the teething thing to someone. Instead of just going ‘you poor thing’ or words to that effect she started going on about whether I had tried some teething powder thing which I had tried with daughter one with absolutely zilch impact and never tried again. Even when I said I had tried it before with no success, she didn’t give up.
In fact, I have to say that most conversations with her are a long string of her telling me what to do. Not only is this pointless as I hate being told what to do or even advised, but it is also incredibly boring. I do not want my entire life to be lived as if it were some sort of childhood training manual. This is why I opted out of the whole coffee morning with babies thing with daughter one after a few months of endless conversations about weaning and breastfeeding. After four children, I definitely don’t want to talk about weaning one more time. I just want to get on with it and talk about something, anything, else.
Perhaps they are not ubermums, but men disguised as mums! From your description, and from ‘psycho-insight’ articles I’ve read, these women are giving a classic male reponse. Eg. You mention teething, they respond with a typical male problem-solving speech, whereas you hope for and would have given, a female empathy response. On the bright side, women tend to revert to problem-solving response when they care a lot. That is how I am so well-up on this issue! My children moan that I never simply sympathise, I always wade in with advice and winning strategies when they tell me something. I only sympathise with people I’m less involved with.