Hey mama,

Listen up.

It’s the holiday season, a.k.a, the season of giving.

Giving thanks, giving presents . . . oh yeah, and giving germs. Lots of ‘em.

Flu, whooping cough, that scary three-letter word, RSV.

So now’s as good a time as any to remind you:

There’s a lot of sharing going around, but you don’t ever have to “share” your baby.

Your baby isn’t a souvenir to be passed around and “oohed” and “ahhed” over by everyone at the table.

You don’t have to hand her to every family member who claims, “But I’m AMAZING with kids!”

You can give him to someone to hold, then take him back whenever YOU want.

You can put her down and ask that nobody touch her, or you can hold her for however long you dang well please.

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You can tell people not to kiss your child, not to touch his face, or to admire from a distance. You can ask them to please wash their grubby hands. And then if they cough or sneeze or spit or wheeze or wipe their runny noses, you can ask them to please wash their hands again.

You can ask them not to come if they’re sick.

Or even if they aren’t.

You can say, “No, thank you,” when they suggest, “Here, I’ll give you a hand with him!”

You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

You don’t need to justify or prove anything.

You don’t have to do anything YOU don’t feel comfortable with, because YOU are the mom, and this is YOUR baby.

And guess what?

You DON’T have to share.

P.S. This photo is of my sister with my newborn son. Yes, I made her wear a mask, because a few days prior to her visit, she had dinner with my aunt, who came down with the flu.

Originally published on Shower Arguments

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Emily Solberg

Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom to two toddlers, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard along with the good. You can find more from her on her Facebook page, Shower Arguments.