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Modern moms do it all: We work, we raise, we cook, we rinse, we repeat. We. Are. Powerful.
Or are we really closeted wimps?
I try to be fabulous and tough, but I often think back to something that happened a few months ago: My little one took a swig of milk from her sippy cup that was accidentally left on our couch from the night before. (Oops, my bad. Oh well.) I saw her walking around with the cup after breakfast, screamed, "Eww, that's old milk!" and then grabbed it from her grasping hands before she knew what happened. "Did you drink it?" I asked her. Blank stare. Then she wiped her mouth and said, "Yuck." Maybe she did drink it. Maybe she didn't drink it.
At first I didn't react (big deal, it's just old milk), but then I continued with my morning ritual, went online and scrolled through Facebook. First post I see: My toddler suddenly doesn't like to drink juice! Is this normal? Could he suddenly be allergic? Scroll down. Some posts about looking for sitters, a good makeup artist ... OK, OK. Second post that catches my eye: My child likes to play outside but gets tired after a few minutes and wants water ... is this normal?? Should I ask his doctor? More posts: My baby has developed hoarseness in his voice today [can babies have a hoarse voice?] ... is this normal? My toddler sometimes cries when I drop her off at preschool ... is this normal? My 4-year-old sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night saying he had a bad dream [at what age do kids start having bad dreams] ... is this normal?
It's like we sometimes want to figure out how to tackle the issue before there's even a real issue to tackle.
I was starting to feel compelled to add my morning's mishap: My toddler just drank 12+-hours-old milk leftover in a cup from last night! Will her stomach explode?! What I first dismissed as being a typical toddler story to tell my husband about later quickly turned into paranoia. WAIT. Had I under-reacted? Will spoiled milk make her vomit? Require a trip to the doctor? Should I call my husband and ask what to do? I started Googling for the sport of it. My heart raced a bit. My mind imagined all kinds of far-fetched scenarios involving my little girl and a stomach pump.
WHAT. A. WIMP. There I was, with a bunch of other moms just like me, looking for a problem online before one actually presented itself in real life. I'd bet lots of money that neither of my grandmothers would've ever panicked like this over a ridiculous mishap involving curdled dairy. (I'll bet none of your grandmothers would've panicked either. Hell, my own mom wouldn't have panicked.)
But as I scrolled more and more, there it was—modern motherhood paranoia. All about non-big things. All online. Projecting potential problems, abnormalities, emotional developmental issues, thanks to random isolated typical kid incidents. It's like we were all fueling each other online, each comment and question making the next person question their own logic more and more. (Despite the Internet telling me to beware for a day of toddler diarrhea, nothing happened. She was fine.)
The judgey side of me made a quick assessment: The immediate and unending information now available to parents has also turned us into wimps. We appear as though we can juggle and handle and schedule all things without a second thought, but we've actually become more prone to losing our wits when it comes to regular, common sense stuff.
I fear that we've become scared of our own natural parenting abilities.
If our kids sneeze, we rush them to the doctor to make sure they don't have that scary weird new fatal (extremely rare) virus that's going around. If our toddler has a bad dream in the middle of the night, we suddenly recall (and reread) that article about early emotional development and question whether or not we're nurturing them enough during the day. If our boys get a kick out of trying on mommy's nail polish, the topic of transgenderism immediately crosses our minds. It's like we sometimes want to figure out how to tackle the issue before there's even a real issue to tackle.
Why? Because we hear about, read, glance at and skim the absolute rarest, freakiest and offbeat issues that can happen with children these days on a daily basis. Methinks we know too much—and it's scaring us. It's also scaring me into thinking we're slowly turning into inhibited idiots who can't sort through everyday issues without fearing if our instincts are right on or all wrong. I fear that we've become scared of our own natural parenting abilities.
And as we all know, being scared can lead to feeling overwhelmed, which can then morph into a want and need for frequent and excessive "me time" so that we can clear our minds enough to cope. (Guilty, guilty, guilty of it ALL. And don't get me wrong: I LOVE me time. I NEED me time. We all do.)
Our grandmothers and mothers handled a lot more than a lot of us do, including hand-washing clothes and dishes, not having access to disposable diapers, microwaves or various supplies of comforts and medicines that we have access to. (They also didn't have the Internet planting ideas into their heads.) And from what they've all told me, moms back then didn't seem to "vent" (complain) as frequently or require half as much me time as we all do now. (Or maybe they're just putting us all on to get a rise out of us?)
True, raising kids in this age is very different than what previous generations dealt with, with many more pressures and issues. And online information is a powerful and useful thing—I'm not arguing it's not. But, for the sake of us all, I beg us all, myself included: We might need to start toughening up. Just a little bit. Because my gut tells me that we're all smarter than what the Internet sometimes tells us.