The work that I do is rewarding, challenging, and much like Autism itself, ever changing. I spend most of my days researching information so that I can stay up to date on the latest Autism research as well as what services are currently being offered for the ASD population. I try to stay up to date with what’s going on in the State House regarding the budget and Autism. I do this so that I can be best prepared to tell parents and individuals what they ought to do when they call requesting information. I do my best to make sure that I have provided people with the best information possible so that they can do what is best for their family and their situation. After all, people are trusting me with their families wants and needs. The least that I can do is fully listen to them and offer any advice I can give…. Right?
You’d think, or at least I’d think, that this would be the way it works in all aspects of life. If I have a question, there’s someone that I can call to get advice from. That person can be a family member, a friend, or an agency that has expertise in the area in question. The easier the issue the more resources I would have when looking for an answer. It wasn’t until very recently, that I realized how willing everyone is to tell me what I ought to do.
This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. My husband and I bought our first house. Shortly thereafter we found out that we were expecting our first baby girl. We lost my mother who couldn’t win her 19-year battle with cancer. And on March 18, my sweet baby girl came into the world. With so many highs and lows I have never felt more out of control.
There have been a number of times that I found myself seeking out professional advice. With my house it was: Is the wall we want to knock down a weight bearing wall? Why isn’t the radiator in the bedroom working? During my pregnancy, every decision I made now wasn’t just a decision for me and my health, but the life I was growing. So that brought on a whole new topic of questions: Is it safe to eat _____? Can I still ride my horse? When my mom’s health was worsening, I was asking questions about her: Is this the end? Is she comfortable? Can she hear me?
And then, when our baby was born there was a plethora of new questions I had. The difference with this situation is that I didn’t/don’t have to reach out to a professional. It seems like everyone has so much advice, even on questions I didn’t even know I had! I have never heard the phrase “you ought to” more so than in the past four months. I know that the people giving me this unsolicited advice don’t mean any harm by it, but all of these “ought-isms” definitely leave me questioning everything. You could ask 5 people the same question and get 5 very different answers. I’ve been told that I ought to leave her sleeping in our room until she’s 6 months. Then I’ve been told that I ought to get her used to sleeping in her own crib in her own room as soon as possible. I’ve been told that I ought to start her on fruits and vegetables at 4 months, but I’ve also been told that I ought to wait until she’s 6-9 months. I’ve been told that I ought to put on sunscreen when we go outside, but I’ve been told I ought to wait until she’s at least 6 months to use it. I could go on and on with the different things I’ve been told that I ought to try or do. I was even told by a nurse in the hospital that I “ought to shorten the spelling of her name. It has too many letters.” (My babies name is Ellianna. The nurse that said this was Rosemary. THEY BOTH HAVE 8 LETTERS!!!).
For The most part, I appreciate the advice that I’ve been given. It’s usually from moms that have lived and breathed motherhood already and the advice they are giving truly comes from a good place. But this has definitely taught me a new skill that I didn’t even know I needed in every aspect of life be it parenting, my professional work, or even just being a friend. I need to listen more and wait for the person to ask for advice. Sometimes when someone calls to talk, they just want that person on the other end of the line to listen and to reassure them that they are doing a fine job. They don’t want or need any ought-isms. I need to remember that. Going forward, in conversations I’m going to do my best in giving the assurance that people need and the advice that they want, when they want it.