It's 1 o'clock in the morning and, thinking about tomorrow, you realize it's bath day for your toddler — the one who used to adore splish-splashing his way in the tub, but who now not only refuses to sit in the tub, but insists on screaming bloody murder for the entire four minutes it takes to hose off the Nutella and spaghetti sauce behind his ear. Sigh.
You reach for your phone to Google "toddler refusing bath," grateful for the information that your toddler seems not to be unique in his fickle, fickle bath ways. Then you remember you wanted to check out the theory that a 6-year-old's lying is a developmental phase.
None of us is alone in turning to the screen for both information and validation. It is the closest thing we will ever get to the holy grail of a parenting manual.
Motherhood can be a confusing mish-mash of uncertainty, gut instinct and pure fish-out-of-water moments. In previous generations, women were lucky enough to raise their children surrounded by the wisdom of other mothers — sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mother-in-laws. These days, we are more likely to live apart from those who might best inform our parenting. I thank my lucky keyboard for Google.
And it seems I am not alone in this. Feeling guilty (imagine that!) for turning to Google so much of the time to answer my queries about kiddos, I asked this question on my blog's Facebook wall: "Writing a post about Googling our way through motherhood, e.g., when we don't know something, we ask the Google machine. If you can, tell me what you have Googled."
Here are just a few of the responses:
Tween texting and social media use
Homework, homework, homework
Napping and potty training
When to serve peanut butter, honey, strawberries, etc.
Auto insurance rates for teens
Removing splinters with glue
Common Core mumbo jumbo
Rashes, rashes, rashes
And the list went on and on and on and on.
If we can use technology to help us feel less alone in those mothering moments when we really don't know what we're doing, well, sign me up.
Last week, my toddler who hates baths was running a fever. No other real symptoms outside of a slightly runny nose and cough. It passed in a few days, and I honestly didn't worry about it too much. But then, a few days after the fever was gone, a mysterious rash turned up on his neck and trunk. Was it measles? Rubella "BAH!" I said to my husband on the way to the computer. "I'm going to ask Dr. Google."
"NO!" he warned, fearing I would go down the rabbit hole of fear and worry. But, to the contrary, Dr. Google very reassuringly suggested a benign virus that our pediatrician confirmed over the telephone. No need to even go in for a visit. Google to the rescue.
In this day and age of reactionary parenting and fear around every corner, I was grateful to have calmed my nerves and embraced the opportunity to not worry. And while I wish I had the wisdom of my mom or grandmother to pull from easily, in their absence, I am grateful for the comfort Google provides—in moderation, of course.
If we can use technology to help us feel less alone in those mothering moments, when we really don't know what we're doing, well, sign me up.