40 Things the Internet Has Told Me to Be Afraid Of

The internet makes it hard not to be a nervous person - and especially impossible to not be a nervous mom. This is a list of all the things I've recently been warned about via links, articles, and blog posts. I started linking to the source of each of these warnings but decided that I'd refrain from being part of the problem. If you're really interested in what to be afraid of with each of these things, do a quick Google search. You'll find more than you ever wanted to know. Or email me, I'll fill you in.

I think many of these are overblown, and/or I've chosen not to worry about those. Some of them relate to things I don't eat/drink/buy/do. A few of them I do worry about. But seriously, let's just take a step back and take a page from my favorite parenting trend of all.

Things the Internet Has Told Me to Be Afraid Of:
  1. Food that isn't organic
  2. Food that says it is organic but maybe isn't
  3. Brown rice
  4. White rice
  5. Baby monitors
  6. Dressers
  7. Sandy beaches
  8. Olive oil
  9. Processed food
  10. Cow's milk
  11. Carrageenan - and, ice cream
  12. Sunblock
  13. Skin cancer
  14. Co-sleeping
  15. Not co-sleeping
  16. Babywearing
  17. Not babywearing
  18. High fructose corn syrup
  19. White bread
  20. Wheat
  21. Soy
  22. Food dyes
  23. Not eating enough vegetables
  24. Eating vegetables soaked in chlorine/chemicals/dirt
  25. Causing an eating disorder in my kid because I'm too worried about food
  26. Children's vitamins
  27. Shampoo
  28. Swimming pools
  29. Sandbox sand 
  30. Vaccinations
  31. Declining vaccination rates and a rise in disease
  32. Trader Joe's
  33. My pots and pans
  34. Too much screen time
  35. White noise for sleeping
  36. Sleep deprivation
  37. Lack of bacteria in my gut
  38. Too much bacteria in my reusable shopping bags
  39. Laundry detergent packets
  40. Damaging my children by being a nervous parent
What did I miss? I'm sure there are dozens of additional things I should be afraid of that I don't even know about yet.


loss, lessons, and letters

Sometimes, you don't get the option of "next week" or "another day" or "when I get around to it."  Realizing this has been a big kick in the pants for me. And I don't mean things like "someday I'll go to Japan." I mean things like "I'll send that letter when I get around to it," and "I really should give her a call.  Maybe I'll have time next week."

With the loss of Meg, we lost so much. For me, among the many painful parts of the loss is the fact that I made promises to her that I didn't make good on. I promised that while she was away, working in far off corners of the world, I would send her packages. And I never did.

But she did. Where ever she was, she let us know she was thinking of us. My 2-year-old has t-shirts from Australia, Thailand, and Dubai to prove it. And while I sent Meghan notes via email and Facebook and shared photos of the t-shirts in action, I never got around to sending those packages or writing those letters. I will always regret it. I'll regret that I failed to follow through on my promise, and that she didn't know just how often we thought of her. It seemed like there would always be more time, that we'd always have more visits and more email exchanges. I had dozens of excuses, but the truth is: if I had made the time, I could have done those things. There was nothing stopping me. And yet, I let time slip by and then it was too late - those letters and packages will never arrive in Meg's mailbox. It's a heartbreaking punch-in-the-gut lesson.

I've turned these thoughts over and over in my head. I can't change it. The opportunity to show Meghan how much our little family cared about her is gone. I only hope that in the emails we exchanged and in the time we spent together that she knew how much we loved her, how proud we were of her, and how much we thought of her as she traveled the world.

As I've struggled with this regret, I've envisioned conversations with Meghan. In these conversations I apologize, and wish I could change the past, that I had just written those cards and put those packages in the mail. And Meg urges me, in her smiling way, to pay it forward. Write those letters and mail those packages to other people that I care about. I can't send her the letters I meant to send, but I can show others, the way she showed us, that I'm thinking about them and care about them.

So, that's the plan. It's my Meg Mission. And it makes me feel a little better, taking one of the many lessons from the way she lived her life and putting it into practice.

Today I stopped at the stationery store and bought $50-worth of cards and paper. I went to the post office and bought stamps. As a kid and teenager I wrote letters all the time. And with my new mission in hand, I'm bringing back letter-writing. The people I care about will find notes and packages in their mailboxes. The first couple of letters are written, ready to go in the mail tomorrow. Some of these are things I've been "meaning to send" for ages.  And I've learned the hard way: do it now. Sometimes 'when I have the time' is just, heartbreakingly, too late.


the bigness of 2 years old

Life with a toddler is life with a person who experiences everything intensely. To a small person, everything is big.
A ditty played by a toy is reason for a full-out, throw-down dance party.
Difficulty putting something in a pocket is reason for tears and foot-stomping.
A surprise peek around the corner is reason for deep belly laughs.
An ant on the sidewalk is reason to stop, crouch, and watch.
And a glimpse of someone you love in the morning is reason for huge smiles, huge hugs, giggles. 

It's a life of delightful misunderstandings. Confusion about air conditioner/hair conditioner. 
It's unique language that evolves and changes daily. Opameal for breakfast, light flashes to illuminate a dark corner, goggies barking, and pretzel yogurt treats.

It is evenings of bubble baths with bubble beards, hula-hooping bear pajammys, Goodnight Moon/Great Green Moon, family hugs, and recaps of every detail of this big busy day. 

Life with a toddler can be frustrating when a request for water becomes tears over the cup the water is in. Or when shoes must be changed three times before leaving - by myself. 

It is everything magnified. Flower petals. Sad feelings and mad feelings. Specks in the rice. The importance of the small details.

But my oh my is life with a two-year-old great. It is snuggles and laughs. It is the perfect-sized little hand reaching for yours. It is the summertime toddler smell of baby sweat and sunblock and dirt and strawberries (this smell is nearly as good as newborn baby head). It is hugs for everyone (and lessons about how not every other little person necessarily wants a hug). It is a song for everything (followed by "you know that song?", which was just made up moments ago). Dances in the kitchen and ongoing narratives. It is messy morning hair and sleepy hugs. It is stories about elephants and engrossing pretend play, block towers of surprising height and intricacy, pancake parties and backrubs.

When Evelyn was an infant, I'd see parents of toddlers and feel absolute fear over that stage. The motion, the willfulness, the negotiation. And there is all of that. And yes, it's exhausting. But the payoff is great. The bigness of the love, the awe in the everyday, the constant discoveries and developments- as long as we give it space, it adds up to a time of wonder for all of us. 

I wrote this last week and never posted it. And then our family experienced an unexpected and difficult loss. And more than ever I see the beauty in this glorious and intense moment of toddlerhood. In this time of deep sadness and grief, there is nothing quite like the gift of wild hugs and kisses and cuddles and fresh-eyed observations from a 2-year-old. I am so grateful.