Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Abyss of Fear by Real Mommy Chronicles

I am out of the office this week so I asked Annie from Real Mommy Chronicles to guest post for me. She. Is. Awesome. I love her! We met at BlogHer last year in the way back of the breakfast room with the morning keynote speaker. We both had backgrounds in education and new to blogging. And we just kinda clicked. Anyway,

I love her writing style because it’s so honest and funny. And this post is no exception. Because her reaction to her son being left handed? Would have totally been me. And probably a lot of us moms in some capacity because wow! Is it a lot of responsibility or what? (As I am enjoying some time off with The Hubs and getting some serious spa treatments). (At least that is what I am envisioning this business trip will be like since I am writing before leaving). (Hey, I think I earned it. I mean, I did fill out Marie’s kindgergarten packet before I left. And by packet, I mean about 22 forms. If the FBI is looking for an almost five year old double agent, look no further. Because I have done all the paper work).

Without further ado, I bring to you Annie from Real Mommy Chronicles. . .

The other I day, I posted about an article I read about left-handedness. My older son is left-handed and I have to say that at first glance, the article’s declarations freaked me out. I had always thought being a lefty just meant being more creative, and here they were associating it with loads of other terrible illnesses or conditions.

I had that moment of panic. I was on the verge of calling multiple specialists and figuring out how we could test for all of these possibilities early.

Get a hospital room ready! We’re coming in! Move! Move! Move!

And then I smacked myself across the face.

Okay, I know you don’t know me (yet!) but I would never actually hit anyone, let alone my fabulous self.

But in my mind I had to smack myself. Shake my shoulders. Bring me to my senses and drag me back from the abyss that can easily swallow you up as a parent.

The abyss of FEAR.

They say that having a child is like living the rest of your life with your heart outside of your chest. It is so, so true. I often find myself telling people that the most surprising part of parenthood is the pain. I don’t just mean childbirth. I am talking the excruciating pain of seeing your child hurt, in pain, suffering, struggling, or dealing with any of life’s cruelties. Nobody warns you about the level of this heartbreak!

Because we want to spare our children from any pain (and to be honest, ourselves from enduring the pain of watching their pain), I think we can sometimes go overboard. We all have heard of a ‘helicopter parent,’ but lately I have seen similar behavior in more subtle ways.

Sure, you don’t hover while your child goes down the slide at the playground, but you are waiting at the bottom with the Purell.

You let them feed themselves, but every single thing on that plate is organic. Down to the dipping sauce for their carrots.

They are allowed to pick out their own outfit in the morning, but all of their clothing is made of hemp. Even their socks.

And of course they are allowed to walk to school, but obviously they need to wear a helmet.

Now let me clarify. I totally have Purell in my diaper bag and purse, try to feed my kids as much organic food as possible and make them wear helmets on bicycles or scooters. In fact, I even think they have a few organic clothing items. (Hand-me-downs, for sure) I am talking about parents who focus on one issue and go completely nuts.

The truth is that I understand the urge to protect our children in this way. I don’t want any toxins entering their pristine systems. But at what point do we have to release a little? At what point is the ‘getting out of control’ really about control? We can’t control every aspect of our kids’ lives for very long. For the short period of time we have them in our nests before they take flight, do we really want to be focused entirely on the details of their surroundings and consumption, rather than filling them with creativity, trust, and love? (Love being 100% organic, by the way!) Sure you can probably do both, but we all know there are only so many balls we can juggle before some start falling.

I have to say that I don’t just blame us, the parents. Every day there are multiple articles telling us about everything that can go wrong with our children. Giving us study after study about possible correlations.

Strawberries are good. No, wait, they’re bad. Hold on, actually, they can save your life. Oh, nope. Spoke to soon. If you let your child eat strawberries they will immediately combust.

And the products! Oh, the products! Well, of course now that your commercial has told me that my child can die in horrendous pain if he touches markers that contain Jutelgyn 567-N (I totally just made that up.), of course now I want your markers that do NOT contain Jutelgyn 567-N. In fact, now I NEED them. $47? Done.

You just know that ‘Baby Bubbles’ are going to be in stores any day now. We can roll them around instead of using strollers and they never have to touch a thing!

But I think we have to keep ourselves in check a little. Largely because nobody else is going to keep us in check. Do you know how much money is being made off of all of us crazed parents?!? Of course many concerns are real, but that doesn’t mean our intense love for our kids isn’t being exploited a bit. And it doesn’t mean we have to fall into the abyss of fear.

Because more than anything else, what our kids really need is us. Being there for them. And being sane. And letting them live a little.


Anonymous said...

I love annie! She's so honest and funny--now with all of the gushing over with,,,I can totally relate to wanting to protect our children from every little thing. But I too have to take a step back and chill out before my little ones turn into anti social kids with weird germ phobias. Keep up the great work ladies!

RealMommyChron said...

Thanks, Secret Admirer!

And it is so true - I think we all WANT to protect them
From everything, but we have to use our heads instead of our hearts sometimes and remember what is actually best for them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go finish their organic kale shakes. (I'm kidding. And yet, I'm not. Oh, the paradox of parenthood...)