You know your kids have been gone a long time when you see cobwebs in their sneakers. Kids never sit still long enough for spiders to move in and set up shop. And though it's been a long six week absence, my oldest three will be home on Friday! Yay!
I read an issue of a parenting magazine this week. I hardly ever read magazines, especially parenting magazines, because I. . .well, I'll just admit it. I rarely ever read something in them that I don't already know. How arrogant is that? Every now and again I see a good mom's-eye-view piece detailing a personal experience that I like the spin on, but I already know how to deal with colic, potty-training, getting kids to help around the house, school bullies, and nightmares. I don't usually fall for all those gotta-have-'em gizmos that are always coming out to make a mom's life easier. To me, it's mostly all clutter, and clutter that's gonna be past its prime in 6-12 months anyway, so I'll choose to struggle through without the "perfect solution" to this-or-that. I think most of the recipes they give in those magazines are highly impractical and ridiculous (though admittedly cute). Like I have time to cut pimento eyes and bell pepper smiles? And why are we giving in to cutting sandwiches into flowers and sailboats just so a kid doesn't have to eat the crust? And what are you doing with that waste??? Why does dinner have to look like something other than dinner to get a kid to eat it? Woman, you better think twice before you start catering your dinner plate to be entertaining to your child. Who has time for that? You're setting yourself up for a bad fall later on down the line. What ever happened to eat it or starve? With the time you saved on not making the cucumber and American cheese into a sailboat stuffed with tuna, you can read your child a book--now there's an idea! And I will never buy a product that gives a kid permission to draw on any wall, anywhere, because that would just undo all the work I've been doing with "we only draw on paper!" We can't keep changing the rules on them! (Here let me paint your room with chalkboard paint so you can have permission to color on the walls! There just wasn't enough dust in here already. Or, here are these great markers for bath time. Because after I'm done scrubbing the tub, I really want to scrub the walls too. And I like my bathroom to look like an inner-city underpass. Let me find a way so you can do whatever you want and life can be all about YOU. Not.) I digress.
But I was struck with how terrifying these magazines can be for mothers. Did you know that if you eat hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy that your baby has double the risk of developing a brain tumor? And that if a child eats more than twelve hot dogs a month he has nine times the risk of developing leukemia? Or if the father eats more than twelve hot dogs a month the risk for the child is the same? So, stay away from the hot dog eating contests and the men who win them!
You also must worry about toy recalls for high levels of lead in the paint, the high levels of bisphenol (BPA) in clear plastic baby bottles which has raised "concerns" that they may cause neurologic and behavioral problems in children. Thunderstorms may cause asthma attacks. Car seats in the center back reduce injury risk by 43%, even though you can see your child better in the rear passenger side. There's arsenic in your water. Oh, and tap water is more regulated than bottled water after all, great. Grilling food causes carcinogens. Be careful of pesticides and herbicides if your child is playing in the garden. Sunburn pain-relieving gels may cause seizures if your child swallows even a small amount. Worried about the feces that are flying through the bathroom air and landing on your child's toothbrush? Well, you should be. (but they have this great new gizmo to protect the bristles of your child's toothbrush, and in these fun new animal shapes!) Soy formula isn't better for milk-allergic babies after all. And the list goes on and on.
How do any of us survive? How do we have time to do anything but survive? These magazines make it seem like a full time job to keep our kids away from harmful, cancer-causing, seizure-inducing, leukemia-forming, toxic, dangerous, potentially hazardous STUFF. When are we supposed to have fun?
Well, I take it all with a grain of salt. Shake my head at it all. The world gets better. The world gets scarier. The world gets easier. The world gets more dangerous. I have enough to worry about with the character of these kids I'm raising. I guess they're stuck with a mom who only lets them drink water (as in not soda or juice) when they're thirsty--filtered tap water, thank you; who makes them eat fruit and vegetables for snacks--that are either organic or have been rinsed for pesticide residue, and a mom who never cuts the crust or the peels off of anything (that's where the vitamins are!); who won't let them have cell phones or more than 30 minutes a day on the computer, and who has banned MySpace; and a mom who makes them go to bed when it's still light outside because she believes that most behavior and attention problems with kids are due to not enough sleep. Read to them, talk to them, pray with them and for them, love them, make them work and go to church, and bake them cookies. The bare bones of motherhood.
There but for the grace of God go I.