If there's one diplomatically tricky part of having a baby, it's dealing with unsolicited parenting advice. Friends, family, people in the checkout line at the grocery store -- everyone who's ever spawned a child wants to share their two cents on the do's and don'ts. If that's not awkward enough, just imagine strangers on the Internet chiming in too.
Married X Games stars Travis Pastrana and Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, who welcomed their first daughter, Addy, on Labor Day this year, got so much negative commentary on a recent family photo posted to Travis' Facebook fan page that Lyn-z channeled her inner Mama Bear and addressed the situation online. Her message? Give us some credit, people.
XGames.com caught up with her to chat about the rigors of parenting in the public eye.
XGames.com: Baby Addy is about 5 weeks old now, and you've traveled to most of Travis' recent NASCAR Nationwide races. What's it like parenting a newborn on the road?
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana: You just have more stuff when you go places. I sleep a little less and all, and I'm constantly looking at an app on my phone, going, "When did she eat last? When will she probably want to eat?"
What about the public aspects of having her with you at races and events?
It's challenging because there's always going to be people who don't agree with your parenting style and constantly want to tell you what you're doing isn't right. So that's really rough on us. Actually, Travis has said, "It's not rough on me; you're the one that lets it get to you."
You guys initially tried to keep Addy out of sight. What changed your mind on that?
Yes, we just wanted to protect her. We didn't let her name out right away and we weren't posting photos of her face. But it got to the point where we thought, "It's going to be impossible to keep doing this," so we just kind of forgot about it. There's some parts of our lives we want to keep private, but there was no way we could just hide her from the world.
In the beginning, how comfortable were you with letting her be seen?
It just kind of happened on its own, and we're OK with it. It makes our lives a lot easier, but we're definitely worried about her future and wondering if we're doing the right thing. But for now, she's a happy baby and that's all that really matters.
You mentioned getting lots of unsolicited parenting feedback. Where do you encounter that most?
So far it's mostly been online. I'm a bit more involved in social-media stuff than Travis and I tend to look at things after they've been posted. The photo was posted on Travis' fan page on Facebook and some people disagreed with how I was holding our daughter. [This image appears at the top of this story. -- Ed.]
It sucks to get ridiculed when people don't have all the info and they judge things. But instead of getting bummed out and mad at them, I have to remember that they're not there. They don't see me carrying around her earmuffs in the other hand. If they had looked on my Facebook page, they'd see plenty of photos of Addy in her earmuffs. We're not dumb. We're not trying to impair our daughter for the rest of her life. When the photo was taken, the cars weren't running and so she didn't have earmuffs on. I guess because they see the bigger kids of some of the other NASCAR drivers with their earmuffs on during the national anthem, they just assume. I'm not going to force her to wear them when she doesn't need to.
Then people were asking why I was holding her and didn't have my right hand over my heart while the national anthem was playing. Well, I'd rather have my sleeping child keep sleeping during the anthem than move her and have her scream during it. But that's just my opinion.
Where do you think these reactions were coming from?
I think people just like to get a rise out of people. They just like to voice their opinions, especially on the Internet because it's not face to face. I don't think we've ever really received anything face to face from anyone. We're either going to have to be wary of what photos we post or never go on [social-media sites] and check what people are saying. But then that makes it so we're not as interactive with the fans, and they don't like that, either. It's kind of a double-edged sword. It's a learning process for sure.
What was Travis' reaction? Did he read the responses to the photo?
Yeah. He didn't see many of the meaner comments. His reaction was that he gets people cursing him out and being mean to him every weekend [at races]. He basically has had to live with stuff like that his entire life, so he's a lot more used to it. He's good at telling himself, "This is the way I am, and this is what I'm doing, and what people are saying doesn't matter."
A lot of people treat him like he's this character, like he's not a real person. They look at our lives and they don't see us as normal people, so it's a lot easier for them to just lash out. He did agree with the people who commented that it was disrespectful to the national anthem to have his Red Bull water bottle in his right hand and not over his heart. He put it down after that photo. So, it is what it is. You just have to deal with each situation as it comes, I guess.
Your response on Facebook got a pretty big wave of support. What made you decide to respond publicly?
I started out responding to people individually, and then I just thought, "You know what? This was a nice family photo and I'm going to voice my response to people through it."
So, knowing that people are watching, will you feel the urge to do things differently because of how it might look?
I've thought about that for the last few days: Will I put Addy's earmuffs on for the national anthem at this next race? Or, if she doesn't need them on, why would I do that? It's definitely hard to not to think, "OK, how am I holding her right now? Are people going to think this is wrong?"
But really, I shouldn't. I'll probably just continue doing what I'm doing, caring for my daughter, and not let things get to me. I'm not holding her so I could drop her and I'm not going to do something that could hurt her. It does make me want to just stay in the motor home or keep her in her stroller the whole time or whatever, to avoid backlash. But being scared of what everyone else thinks? That's no way to live your life.