We live in an “alarmist” society – simply put: everything from the things we put in or on our bodies to the things we watch, do, or say is a cause for alarm. We’ll spend an hour scathing a shelf of food to read the ingredients and ensure it doesn’t have high-fructose corn syrup. We make sure to only buy the shampoo that is sulfate-free. We sweat or smell funky – because, deodorant has aluminum in it and aluminum causes breast cancer, right?
I’d like to think of myself as a laid-back parent. Of course, I didn’t start out that way. Let me tell you: I made a personal goal to stop Googling pictures of baby rash or asking Alexa what the normal color of baby stool is. Aside from some occasional research and practicing non-toxic cleaning (post coming later) – I am finding my way when it comes to my style of parenting. The phrase that first comes to mind is: let them be little.
Now, I’m not denouncing any parent’s fears or dismissing the fact that I have my own worries as a mother – but, being a parent in an “alarmist” society is the most anxiety-driven role I’ve ever held. For one, I beat myself up over the fact that breastfeeding didn’t work out in my favor – because, society made me feel like formula-feeding is wrong. For two, I stressed myself out whenever I would let my son cry for a bit while I finished up my business in the restroom – because, society says we are supposed to cater to our child’s individual needs and comfort them when they are upset. We aren’t supposed to sit our kids in front of the television while we finish dinner or folding the laundry. We shouldn’t feed them solids from the jar or pouch – because, they will miss out on all of the nutrients from the food they’d get if we made it. Honestly, the list is overwhelming and increases with age. If I continue, you’d probably start to doze off.
I know that Leo is only 4.5 months old and we will have our fair share of “I-bet-that-will-send-him-to-adult-therapy” thoughts and moments as he gets older – but, I really really just want to let him be little. I want him to experience cartoons on Saturday mornings without thinking there is some underlying meaning to the program. I want to tell him “That was awesome!” when he does something I’m proud of instead of wondering if my verbiage is not catering to his emotional needs. I want to be able to hold him for however long I want to hold him instead of worrying that I’m stifling his independence or “spoiling” him too much.
I’ll close with this quote from an unknown source that I think about whenever I feel myself start to wander down the path of a paranoid parent.
“We can’t prevent our children from falling off their bikes. We can’t prevent them from experiencing accidents while they’re playing. We can’t prevent them from being in less-than-ideal predicaments. We don’t control any of those frightening what-if scenarios and it’s not good for our children or for us if we try to.”
I watched Mickey Mouse Club. I ate Happy Meals for lunch. I went to public school.
I turned out alright.