It’s true, I am. Why ever else would I talk about it so much? So I decided to compile a list of my personal parental neuroticisms and obsessions.
I was never an organic food obsessive – not even during my first pregnancy – until I had a baby who started eating solids. I made all of his pureed food myself (sense of control), and found myself really fretting when the food I usually bought organic was only offered REGULAR. Like any good neurotic who thinks too much, I did understand that organic foods are not more nutritious than nonorganic foods and that even organic produce has pesticides on it (I actually didn’t know that people didn’t know this until recently). But the difference seemed vast and important and I sincerely thought lots and lots about every purchase.
Now, I’m less gripped by this obsession, but I do optimize his food at every opportunity. I still buy organic produce. I worry about his sugar and sodium intake. I worry when his meals seem too carb-heavy (read: easy). I make carrot/apple/kale juice for him by hand and it makes me feel better about his future. But letting go of some of that feels better. Letting him try junk food sometimes is liberating. Actually- maybe that last sense tells you all you need to know about this one. Moving on.
2. Sleep schedule
This might be my biggest one. I get completely bent if my son goes to sleep even 15 minutes later than his scheduled nap or bedtime. If he is woken up early by anything other than his own natural rhythm, fury. Everything depends on naps. Everything. If he has a shitty nap, I have a shitty afternoon and evening. If he is up at night, so am I. If his sleep schedule is disrupted in any significant way, I can see effects for days.
This bothers me so much not because I think he needs X amount of hours of sleep a day or else he’ll wither away, but because I need X hours a day of time to myself and of sleep. It is the only thing I have that is my own, the only thing that makes me feel normal. I need that. It is everything.
So this one is purely selfish, but I am completely resolved about that. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he ends up getting as much sleep as he needs and I have a happy, healthy kid in part because of that.
3. No screen time
I really bought into this one, especially in the beginning. I didn’t even allow him to be in the same room as an operating television for the first many months. I kept this neurosis secret from anyone not in my immediate family, but it was pretty strong. Now, I don’t care as much about it, but he has still never sat down to watch a TV show or been intentionally handed an iPhone or iPad. I have no games for him and no DVDs. We don’t have cable in the house.
These days, I don’t mind so much if there is a TV on near him, but I’m still not letting him actively watch TV or play on screens. It’s not that I think the ban will make him a genius gifted achiever, because it will probably have very little net effect; it’s because he’s never asked or shown interest. It’s the same reason I don’t put syrup on his pancakes. He’s perfectly happy to eat a dry pancake – in fact, he’s delighted with it – so why would I add something like syrup? He’s perfectly happy to play on the floor, so why would I turn a TV on? I might as well hold on to these things as long as I can because they’re not going to last forever. Not that that is the end of the world, either.
4. Hand washing
VIRUS. My money is on a major global pandemic in our lifetime and certainly our kids’ lifetime. I’m convinced that’s how we’re all going to go. That’ll be the end. Not nuclear war, climate change (which is tied, but I think a pandemic will happen first), impact event, or zombies. Wash your goddamn hands, people. And vaccinate. And don’t overuse antibiotics or buy dairy or meat with antibiotics.
And there, friends, you have four of my weaknesses. Now you know.
Edited to Add:
BPA. That one got to me, too. It’s having a kid and being pregnant with one that did it. No plastics and many attempts to eliminate cans. My mother-in-law (who is notably a scientist and a conservative republican climate change denier but a delightful woman otherwise) doesn’t believe in the BPA scare, but I’m too neurotic (the neurotic chant: WHAT-IF, WHAT-IF, WHAT-IF) to take the chance. Also, I think it’s probably true.
Image credit: Contagion. Sorry. At least it was the less bad picture.