This morning, my two year old LilMiss accidentally took a quick swig of milk from her sippy that was chillin’ on our couch from the night before. (Yes, it’s presence slipped past me and I accidentally forgot to throw it in my dishwasher last night.) I saw her walking around with the cup after breakfast, screamed “Ew that’s old milk!” at her and grabbed it before she knew what happened. “Did you drink it?” I asked her. Blank stare. Then she wiped her mouth and said “Yuck.” Maybe she did drink it. Maybe she didn’t drink it. Time will tell.
Did I freak out? A bit, but for literally 1.5 seconds while thinking that I might have to deal with a serious diarrhea issue and how I didn’t have time for it.
Did I post an emergency status on Facebook, call my mother, Tweet out a panicked cry for help and phone our pediatrician’s office demanding specific instructions of what-to-do should a 2-and-a-half year old take a quick swig of milk that might potentially be spoiled? Did I frantically force my daughter to drink gallons of water to flush out the potential bacteria? Did I keep putting my hand on her tummy all morning to ask “Is your tummy ok?” NO.
Why not? Don’t I care about my girl?
Yes I care about my girl, but kids will be kids (not to mention I was suddenly distracted by my 4 year old and her third princess wardrobe change of the morning). Kids are more durable than we give them credit for. I honestly forgot about the whole thing about 5 minutes later. (No diarrhea yet folks, no diarrhea yet…) The way I saw it: Two and a half year old drinking questionable milk out of a sippy that mom didn’t notice thanks to her wiping her other daughter’s hands in the kitchen = Pretty normal in the world of toddlerhood. It happens. Some people raise kids on farms with all kinds of rotten stuff around.
And then I made the mistake of checking Facebook. First post I see: My toddler doesn’t like to drink milk out of his sippy cup! Is this normal? Scroll down. Some posts about looking for sitters, a good makeup artist… ok, ok. Second post that catches my eye: My child likes to play outside but gets tired after a few minutes and wants water… is this normal?? Should I ask his doctor? More posts: My baby has developed hoarseness in his voice today [can babies have a hoarse voice?]… is this normal? My toddler sometimes cries when I drop her off at preschool…. is this normal? My four year old sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night saying he had a bad dream [at what age do kids start having bad dreams]… is this normal?
(I was starting to feel compelled to add my morning’s mishap: My 2 year old just drank milk out of an old sippy cup from last night! Will her stomach explode?!?)
My heart palpitated. My mind raced, thinking about all kinds of far-fetched scenarios involving my 2 year old and a stomach pump.
In the name of competent motherhood, I beg of all of us moms: STOP. FREAKING. OUT. PRETTY PLEASE. (Myself included.) Maybe our toddler is getting used to the idea of drinking from a sippy cup and needs another week or two to really take to it. Maybe our kid just wants a drink of water because his/her mouth was dry and he’s playing in the dirt. Maybe our baby’s voice is hoarse because of weather changes… or maybe (gasp) he/she’s got a touch of a sore throat and is coming down with a cold (for which we will appropriately see our doctor and/or wait it out). Maybe our daughter is slowly adjusting to going to school and needs a bit more time for it to really settle with her? Maybe our son just had a bad dream.
THESE TYPES OF THINGS ARE *ALL* NORMAL. They’re kids: Nothing about kids is standard or expected. Kids do weird things. Give ourselves credit and stop doubting ourselves and our kids.
I share my observations of these posts NOT because I’m trying to poke fun, but because it simultaneously saddens and frustrates me that such smart, fun-loving and educated women can seemingly lose all sense of rationality in about 1.5 seconds. Reel it in, moms. Have we (as moms) become so fearful and paranoid of motherhood itself that we’re freaking out about EVERY LITTLE THING… wondering if our child is “normal” because he/she doesn’t want to drink milk for a few days? So what. The kid doesn’t want milk. Forget about it and try again (firmly) tomorrow. (For what it’s worth, I hate milk. I don’t want to drink milk on ANY day — do NOT tell my 4 year old that.)
Here’s what happens when we freak out about every single little thing: It makes us more paranoid, more unsure of ourselves and more likely to freak out even more for the next minor, unexpected twist that’s hurled our way. I get that we need support and reinforcement, but our constant support-seeking can also hinder our rationality. And, it conditions us to operate at a nervous baseline. I would guess that the more freak-out posts we read, the more freaked-out we get? (Hey, I’m just talkin’ from personal experience…)
If we freak out about every small twist with toddlers, how are we going to handle the big stuff later? We’re not. But we’d better figure it out, have confidence in our gut and HANDLE IT. Think of our grandmothers: They used their guts, went with it and moved on to the next thing. (Yes, I whole-heartedly fess up to freaking out when my daughter has bumped her head and ends up with a huge knot sticking out… But drinking an inch of spoiled milk? What are ya gonna do, besides remind yourself to double-double check the den for lingering sippy cups the next night.)
One of the best, most down-to-earth pieces of parenting wisdom I was told early on was from a friend (and former colleague, who doesn’t have kids of her own but has a magical-baby-whisperer quality that is only God-given) was this: “Babies and kids are people too… they have good mood days, bad mood days and everything in between. Kids are people too… they’re just little.” (WOW.)
Maybe they just sometimes want water while they’re playing in the dirt.
STOP FREAKING OUT, MOMS. I say this because I love us. Truly. Some things warrant a response (and a call to the doctor)… some things don’t. Remember that rational judgement we once had? Let’s try and use it more (before panicking on the internet). Think logically. React appropriately. Move on. Nothing more, nothing less. Otherwise, our kids have big problems ahead if us moms that can’t figure it out, cope and respond in a way that’s going to make our kids strong from the inside-out.
I’m not saying I’m not guilty for freaking out every now and again… I’m just sayin’: Pause. Check OURselves. I think we sometimes know more than we think we know… Peace and love, peace and love.
DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF FROM FREAKING OUT ABOUT EVERY LITTLE THING?