I have a secret to tell you and only you: Al Gore invented the Internet for me. It’s true. Why? Well, he knows that I am an information junkie. I know, I know. Right now you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Whatever, dude. You know you shop and obsessively Facebook like the rest of us.” Whereupon I say to you that I certainly do shop but I don’t Facebook and I am deeply in love with Google. Like, the “we’re practically married” kind of love.
It all started when I decided to lose some weight back in 2002. A friend of mine (you know her as SchmeAnne) had gone on Atkins and her butt looked great, so I decided to try it. But I didn’t know where to start. So one day I Googled “low carb diet” and pressed enter. I’ve never looked back.
Now I Google everything. Everything. Most of the time I get good information. Sometimes I get bad information posing as good information. Occasionally I run across a total nutjob who has a laptop, some programming background and a lot issues. Eventually I pretty much learned how to tell the difference began having just the best time cruisin’ around in cyberspace, filling my head with random and useless information.
Then I got pregnant with Evie, and a whole new can of worms – she was opened. I’ll let you in on another little secret: There is no other being in this world capable of a more complete and total freakout than a pregnant woman. Not only are her hormone levels off the charts, but she has an alien being growing inside of her, her pants won’t button and she can’t seem to control her cheese consumption, her husband keeps leaving the room all deer-in-headlights when she walks in and her feet really, really hurt. Plus, PLUS, once the baby finally bursts forth from her womb, she has to somehow keep it alive.
Aaand there’s the rub: Keeping the baby alive. So, what does she do in an effort to provide the best care for her eventual offspring? Well, since said offspring in encased securely within her body and not running around outside, getting into her kitchen cabinets and trying to “pet” the cat, she has plenty of time on her hands. Plenty of time to scour the Internet for ways her baby could meet certain and utter doom, both in- and ex-utero. Amid all the gutwrenching YouTube videos of natural childbirth and WebMD diagnoses of brain damage, she will eventually find a message board and join in a communal freakout with other pregnant women, which is what I did.
I remember the women on my May 2008 Babies message board as being paranoid, overreactive, slightly bitchy and very, very naïve. I fit right in! During our pregnancies we talked about baby names, our doctors’ appointments and, depending on the day, what sweethearts/lugheads our significant others were being. One by one, our due dates fell. One by one, our waters broke and we delivered the wee, soft little strangers we had been ranting and raving about for the past ten (TEN!) months. Now the freaking out could really begin.
One of the most popular topics to obsess about on my message board was sleeping. All of our pediatricians insisted that we develop a nighttime routine right away so that we wouldn’t have trouble getting our bundles of joy to go down for the night later in life. They instructed us to put our babies in their cribs when they were drowsy but still awake. This would help them learn how to fall asleep on their own. Our doctors warned that if we rocked, nursed or in any way soothed to them all the way to sleep every night, we would end up doing it until they went off to college.
And we all dutifully nodded our heads in their offices, collected our little ones and went straight home – to the Internet.
How we moaned, wailed and kvetched over our inability to get our babies to soothe themselves to sleep. Post after post went up, detailing how one new mom couldn’t lay her baby down in his crib if he were the slightest bit awake. Another fretful soul timidly confessed that she was rocking her barren all the way to sleep every night, and you could almost hear the collective gasp followed by the sound of a hundred tsk’s. The group tizzy would finally peak, and then everyone would move on to another topic just in time for a longtime mother to come in and regale us with stories of how she still had to sit by her four-year-old’s bedside and soothe him to sleep because she never followed her pediatrician’s advice. Then the pearl-clutching would begin all over again.
I moaned and wailed with the rest of my group. At night I would put Evie in her crib still awake and sit back down in the rocker and stare at her. Evie would stare back at me. We would sit like that, staring, until one of us nodded off or Evie let me know she was “having none of it tonight, lady. Seriously.”
We went through this routine for about two weeks right after I went back to work. I diligently put my little one down in her crib still awake every night. Sometimes she went to sleep. Sometimes she didn’t. But then one night I let her fall asleep in my arms while I rocked her. In her darkened bedroom I held my baby and listened to our house’s nighttime sounds: her daddy cleaning up the dinner dishes downstairs; the whir of the air conditioning kicking on and off; a creak here and a settling there; my sweet girl, her little body totally relaxed in my arms, softly breathing in and out. Folks, it was the most precious part of my day.
So I decided to stop worrying so much and just enjoy it. Every night we would read a story and sing a song, then turn off the pink ladybug lamp and commence to rocking back and forth, back and forth until Evie’s eyes would start to flutter and then finally close. Sometimes I held her after she fell asleep for over an hour, just rocking and loving my new life.
And you know what? The world didn’t come crashing to a halt. In fact, nowadays Evie wants the same two stories, ONE verse of “Danny Boy” and then she wants you to put her in bed, Mommy, because she is damned tired. And, AND, the other day I was putting Evie down for her nap, thinking she might fuss a little because she had visitors she wanted to entertain downstairs. But I sat her in her crib and said, “‘Night-night, Evie.” She replied, “Night-Night, Mama,” laid down and went to sleep. I saw it with my own two eyes, people.
I told you all of that to tell you this: I’m about 95% sure Evie’s ready to start the first stage of potty training, and I’m not gonna freak out about it at all.
Oh, I’m gonna read about it. My Google history will show searches for “how not to screw up your toddler psychologically via potty training,” and “potty seats vs. stand alone potties,” and “Everybody Poops + unused copy,” but you will not find “harrowing tales of frightened children hiding piles of poop in their closet,” or “help, my 12-year-old wets the bed!”.
This is what Evie has taught me: “Chill the hell out already, Mommy.” That’s good advice. Because Evie is a smart little girl who will learn how to use the potty (with a little well-informed guidance from her parents) in her own way and at her own pace, just like everything else she’s accomplished so far.
And the fact that she likes to walk around the house with her Disney Princess toilet seat balanced on her head means nothing at all, and I WILL NOT Google it.