Operation Caffeination

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Motherhood in 2012

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It’s been snowing off and on in Seattle, but I’ve been hearing about temps reaching the 80’s from friends scattered across the country so this seems like a good time to deliver my totally soul-shattering PSA of the year: don’t leave your kids in the car. It’s dangerous.

Don’t judge too quickly, either. Research has found that, based off of the Swiss cheese model of the brain, if you have ever forgotten your wallet or cellphone, you are completely capable of forgetting your child. This is not a drunken celebrity problem, this is a stressed out, sleep-deprived parent problem, and if you have kids you fall into that category.

This brings me to another point:

Does it seem like parenting is getting harder with time?

I compared notes with several friends, and we all agreed that we do things a little differently from the way were raised:

-We do not leave our kids in the car unsupervised. Ever. I mean, I will freak the fuck out on my husband for closing a door when a child is still in the car, never mind that three other doors are still standing wide open. I will stay home and eat dry cereal all day rather than go out when the gas tank is low, because I will not leave my kids in the car while I run into the gas station to pay for gas (in cash).

-We do not leave our children unsupervised while we go to the bathroom. Ever. We leave doors open, pile the floor with toys. If the circumstances call for it, we’ll cram the entire family into a bathroom the size of the closet. Let me tell you, you have not lived until you’ve tried peeing while a toddler squats in front of you trying to figure out exactly how girls get the pee to squirt out without penises.

-We don’t leave our kids at those cute little “drop & shop” daycare rooms provided in some large department stores. Well, ok, I don’t want to leave my kid there. It turned into a “thing” in our house, with my son crying and begging to be allowed into the daycare play space and me heartlessly dragging him away: “Look, dude! The lighting section is next! You can help me figure out which lightbulb I should’ve bought last time I was here for my stupid, crappy little IKEA lamp!” It didn’t work, and I finally gave in…and sat down on the bench outside the windowed plays pace along with a dozen or so other parents who were all stuck watching their kids take a play-break in the middle of their shopping trip. Have I mentioned to you before just how much I hate IKEA? I really hate IKEA.

Basically, everything my mom did to keep herself sane while I was growing up is wrong, so wrong now. Periodically bingeing on junk food is out. Napping while the kids watch TV is out. Locking yourself in your room for a breather is out. You can’t leave the oldest kid babysit while you go out to grab groceries or take a walk until your children are in college (and believe me, you don’t want to do it then, either). Smoking and drinking were way out before my mom ever hit the parenting scene.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I just don’t (and can’t!) be a kid along with them. What’s a mom to do, when parenting experts all around you are telling you, day in and day out, that daycare will ruin your children, school will kill their love of learning, grocery market food will poison their little bodies, electronic devices will rot their minds, they can’t play outside unsupervised because of stranger danger and they can’t be left with dad because he’ll neglect them?

I can’t speak for the rest of you…but I’m calling propaganda. And I’m something of a parenting expert myself, so…yeah.


Written by GRSeim

March 16, 2012 at 12:20 am

3 Responses

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  1. Ha, yes. My siblings and I rode bikes around our neighborhood growing up–without helmets, supervision, cell phones, or often shoes–and even though I remember how much fun that was, there is no way in hell I would let my girls do the same. However, I don’t need a magazine article to help me imagine all the potential death scenarios involved in that; it’s common sense to me.

    I guess that having a husband in the medical research sector has made me pretty cynical about “expert” advice. For instance, did you know that SIDS has been linked to a neurological abnormalities? And yet doctors insist it’s caused by letting babies sleep on their (usually preferred) tummies. What really hit it home for me was when we were part of a study after Natalie was born with gastroschisis; the only information the researchers were interested in is what medications I took while pregnant. My answer, along with the answers of every single pregnant woman they interviewed, was Tylenol BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY PAINKILLER OUR DOCTORS APPROVED US TO USE DURING PREGNANCY. The researchers’ conclusion? Gastroschisis is caused by Tylenol. *headdesk*

    I guess the point I’m getting at (very badly) is that “expert” advice is no more valid than natural parenting intuition. I’m grateful for the experience and input of our doctors, but I’m not willing to buy into the paranoia that parenting experts seem bound and determined to spread.

    Bethany Bassett

    March 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    • I value doctors in emergency situations. I value doctors for stepping up to the plate and tackling big problems when the consequences of a mistake could be dire. I don’t have what it takes to be a doctor, that’s for sure. However, I think it’s very likely that the industry-wide lack of respect for the health and well being of doctors themselves is leaving us with a medical profession full anxiety disorder-ridden medical personnel. The OB who delivered Melia by elective c-section is my favorite person in the world, but at one point she told me that if I went into labor early she had given the hospital instructions to call her, even if it was the middle of the night, even if it was the day off, so that she could be there with me and make sure I was ok. That was a very kind and encouraging thing to say, and I deeply appreciated her support, but how is it okay with anyone that doctors are operating on people while they themselves are running on caffeine? No wonder their recommendations sound so apocalyptic. They’re making careers out of living on the edge of sanity.


      March 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm

  2. I’m pretty much done with parenting experts. There are some things, like, yes, not leaving my kids alone in the car (even to pay for gas inside the station, although that’s more because I know they’ll freak out than that I worry about their safety) that seem sensible to me, but the rest of it – I can’t base my parenting entirely on fear, and if I’m completely honest, I’m less worried about achieving the best/perfect outcome than with doing well enough. My kids will not be ruined for life if they eat processed foods, or if they’re put in time out. My kids are smart, and resilient; they don’t need me to drive myself into the ground trying to be supermom.


    March 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

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