keepcalmAfter the reality set in that I was pregnant for the first time, I set out with a mission. I had to make sense of this whole thing and come up with my… wait for it… Parenting philosophy!

Isn’t that what all balanced, prepared, and rational parents do? I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a helicopter mom or a free ranger, an attachment parent or a cry-it-out stickler, an organics-only earth mother or a WTF-here’s-some-Cheetos rebel.

But here is what I was totally unprepared for. Even with my best intentions, I constantly fall back on my default parenting philosophy driven by illogical fears and some supporting “research” mixed in for good measure. After reading volume after volume of parenting book, I still turn to the Internet to have the final say in any parenting predicament I encounter. (Paging Dr. Google!)

I’m not proud to admit this, but I think I would rather publish my sixth grade diary (full of pining and yearning over some random boy I sat behind in science class) than release my Google search history.

Seriously, I Google the craziest baby-related shit:

  • Toddler picky eater
  • Toddler eats too little
  • Toddler eats too much
  • Baby poop
  • Baby poop color
  • Baby poop how often
  • Baby poop consistency

And the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure that my younger 20-something self would have been appalled to see me Googling 500 variations on baby poop compared to “Monday happy hour 80920″. But I digress… Freaking Google.

I am an avid reader of mom blogs, but that also brings with it headline after headline of worst-case scenarios, scary research, and kids falling down wells. (That still happens in some parts of the country, doesn’t it?)

Even with my best intentions, I can’t read a scary headline without Googling it to see if it could somehow apply to my life. Toddler drowns in toilet? Google it. Baby smothered by blanket? Google it. Infant has life-threatening reaction to baby formula? Google that shit pronto.

Instead of rationally assessing an inflammatory headline for what it is – a well-written header designed to get attention – I take any and every opportunity to plug facts into Google to find out if the latest news story, research, or baby product recall could affect me and my family.

It would probably be more accurate to type: “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing! Help!”

Any hot button parenting topic you can think of – like sleep training, co-sleeping, feeding, scheduling, and more – has opposing parenting “experts” with supporting research willing to duke it out on both sides of the fence.

In one sense, that means you can normally find any expert willing to back your preferred parenting style so that you can righteously defend yourself at your next mommy group. In another sense, if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and don’t know what type of parenting approach to take, you may leave your research session feeling even more confused.

Even if you ascribe to a specific parenting philosophy, like AP or free ranging, that still doesn’t guarantee you’ll be fully equipped to make tough parenting decisions in a sea of conflicting research. And so, the fun begins.

Every time my baby or toddler does something out of the ordinary that I deem “abnormal behavior,” I plug it into Google. I guess this means I don’t implicitly trust their doctors because I have a world wide web full of information at my fingertips.

If my son has a fever, I type the exact temperature and symptoms into Google STAT. Of course, I also place a friendly call to his pediatrician, which usually results in some ambiguous advice given over the phone that is pretty conflicting in itself. The doctor may say that a temperature within a certain range is totally fine but watch for symptoms of wheezing, rashes, or lethargy, for example.

Wheezing? What constitutes wheezing? And what would a rash look like exactly? And can I confidently recognize lethargy? I don’t think so. Back to Google I go.

After scouring the Internets and mommy forums, I normally come up with a long list of possible causes, cures, and outcomes of any given situation I’m facing with my kids. I have to be honest and say that I don’t think I’m the better for it. But I also don’t know what I would do without this information overload that has become a comforting addiction to me.

I definitely have an obsessive personality. (Can you tell?) I’d like to think that all new parents are well-acquainted with this brand of crazy, but maybe there are other mothers out there that have harnessed their inner yogi and can take their doctor’s advice at face value. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

But in the defense of crazy, hypochondriac moms everywhere, I’m not sure if it’s possible to make it through that rigorous first year of parenting without becoming addicted to Dr. Google. Even with your best intentions and any labels that you want to put on your parenting style, parenting can still be pretty damn confusing, not to mention intimidating.

If I decide to take advice from other inexperienced moms that have posted their two cents on a forum, at least I know I’m in good company.

(photo:  BeardyFace)