My daughter is currently being raised by me, my husband, and anyone who contributes to a parenting web forum on Google. No shame in our 2016 parenting game.
I’ve always been in awe of Google. (It’s a noun and a verb, you guys!) I can Google search how much you paid for your house or the menu at Chili’s, how to fix the garbage disposal or photos of Courteney Cox’s plastic surgery, review my Internet trail from the past decade or discover a dozen ways to make a meaty lasagna. I can spend ten minutes viewing search results for “unlikely animal friends” and an additional ten minutes wishing I knew a fawn and a puppy that would snuggle together on a hammock.
Google searches were the worst enemy of my pregnancy and the best friend of my entrance into motherhood. When I was pregnant and thickly spreading peanut butter on top of my peanut butter, I’d feel the slightest twitch of a “symptom” and- against my better judgment- end up at Google. A midnight search for “my neck is sore” would confirm that I clearly had bacterial meningitis and it could only be cured by whisper waking my husband, arguing about going to the ER for 45 minutes, and going back to sleep with five added pillows. (This feels like the right time to sincerely apologize to all of our trained Medical Professionals who have to deal with the WebMD hypochondria of the general public.)
Once I became a Mom, my relationship with Google started innocently but evolved rather quickly. Initially, I’d type in a few keywords like “tummy time” to quickly get some info on infant care. Then, it’d be complete questions to tell me answers to specific scenarios. Reasonable questions like:
-What are the signs of reflux in babies?
-When do you start solid food?
-Can you sleep train an overtired baby?
Somewhere between the delirium of five hours of nighttime sleep and narrating my day to an infant, my searches became stream of consciousness and Google basically became my Pen Pal.
-“hey google whats up with you nmh. Should a baby’s pajamas fit when you put her down at night but then be too tight in the morning? Get back to me ok?”
-“google please pull up all internet forums related to getting a baby to nap. Literally pull them all up because im going to sit here and read every single forum post to get this right”
-“it’s me again google. Just checking in to see the best way to treat diaper rash so let me know what you find but don’t pull up that one website that talks about “finger painting” the rash cream because I felt really weird about that one.”
-“so hey goog, today my baby acted like she didn’t want to eat sweet potatoes but most days she loves sweet potatoes so did this happen because she’s teething, ornery, tired, allergic, or all of the above? Write back soon love u so much.”
I have no idea how people parented prior to the Internet. Did you send out a pigeon to your cousin to ask her about nap schedules? Or like… did you just follow your heart? Didn’t it take a ton of time to pick up the phone and twist all the numbers around and untangle the cord and ask your list of questions to your best friend?
Every now and then, I get the giggles when I start to Google search something and the auto-fill lists other popular questions that may match what I’m typing in. I’m just trying to find out “Will babies go (to sleep after crying for an hour)” and it pulls up “Will babies go (in the rapture)”. Or I wanna know “Is it ok for babies to eat (table food at x months)” and it brings up “Is it bad for babies to eat (baby powder)”. WHAT????? You had to Google that?! Who are you? The best was when I started Googling “Do babies have (allergies)” and I got three winners to choose from:
-“Do babies have (kneecaps)”
-“Do babies have (tastebuds)”
-“Do babies have (gills in the womb)”
Y’ALLLLLLL. Really tho. I’m just gonna leave that right there.
If Y2K shut down the Internet years ago, who knows where we would all be today. (Y2K #neverforget #alwaysinourhearts) I’m fully prepared to Google my way through my kids’ todder-lives, elementary years, adolescence, probably even into their adulthood. “hey google talk to me about adult children trying to move back home. can i charge inflated rent to cover the tuition she drained on sorority tshirts. do I have to share my cookie butter. if she cancels my DVR recordings of gymnastics can i cut her off emotionally. let me know, lylas”
To all the parents who contribute to the web forums I’m reading, thank you for being my mentor and guiding light. To all the parents who will come after me, my best advice is:
1) Never leave home without your diaper bag.
2) Don’t be afraid to utilize Guess-and-Check Parenting. Also known as Regular Parenting.
3) Google will be your constant friend and Pen Pal. Maintain a solid WiFi connection and treat her well. She’s the closest Parenting Manual you’re gonna get.