For better or for worse, I entered motherhood with zero expectations for the impressively large changes that such a tiny little human being could have on my life. Now, when I look back at the time that our daughter was born, I am immediately overwhelmed with feelings of joy, pride, hope, and yes, even a touch of nervous anxiety. When friends ask me to share the details of my parenthood journey, I am likely to focus in on the fun times because, after all, these happy memories are the moments of our social media glory. Her first smile, her first words, the first time she looked me directly in the eye and said ‘mum.’
Unless you were a close friend, I probably wouldn’t tell you about the neverending days holed up in the hospital to treat my daughter’s jaundice, or about those many sleepless nights leading to zombie-esque days (hello coffee!). I wouldn’t tell you that I struggled to maintain friendships or how it felt mind numbingly confusing to figure out how to juggle major career decisions with a brand new baby at home.
For me, the opportunity to be a parent is the single largest blessing and challenge in my life. For most of us, that’s how life goes. The things you work the hardest for are often the most rewarding. And friends, parents are the hardest workers I know. Pre-children, I actually had no concept of this. My parent friends would say ‘parenting is hard,’ or that they ‘couldn’t come out to our barbeque because it was scheduled during nap time’.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ‘ understanding’ in every sense of the word, but let’s be real, I did not understand. Parent friends of my past, please hear me: I get it now (better late than never?).
A quick search for popular ‘parenting’ blogs on the internet will yield a number of fantastic posts that provide an honest glimpse of parenthood. Some are shockingly raw, and some, a bit over the top, but as a new parent, it has always helped me to know that I am not the only one tripping over my metaphorical shoelaces on this adventure we call parenting.
Parenting in today’s modern era has afforded me a number of resources that were not available to my own parents. I use the Glow Baby app to track her every nap, feed, poop and pee (gross!). I also use the Notabli app to privately share the cutest of photos with all of her nearest and dearest. We have this cute little owl in her bedroom that plays songs for a designated amount of time and then lights up her room with a brilliant starry night sky. We also use a fun and research-based app called Vroom to get inspired to do daily brain building activities. Despite all of these devices meant to ease the burden of parenting, it is still really hard sometimes! Do you ever wonder how those parents on the Oregon Trail made it here with their little ones (despite the fact that the classic computer game always had my wagon sinking in the river, probably karma for shooting all of the buffalo when I had the chance)?
The Google Addiction
What I didn’t expect when my daughter was born, was to become addicted to my old friend Google. I would be ashamed to share many of the questions that I have googled after becoming a new parent. This reality hit me hard the other night when I entered the following search terms into that blinking and ever ready text box: ‘12 month bedtime routines, Screaming, Crying / No cry it out’. Is that how you spell desperation? As my husband walked into her room to attempt take five of a game we play called ‘calm her down and sneak out of the room.’ I told him, “Wait! just let me Google this first.”
He looked at me warily, with tired eyes and calmly said
“There is nothing left to Google.”
That’s when I first figured it out. Google is not the answer to every life question. Google cannot calm a crying baby or ease the pain of teething for your little one. Google can however confuse the heck out of you. Millions of forums with parents debating the age old ‘cry it out’ question will likely leave you staring blankly at your phone screen until the wee hours of the morning.
On the Road to Recovery
Deep breath. I’ve decided to break my Google addiction and to narrow my focus to websites that provide quality parenting information only. Don’t get me wrong, Google is not the enemy, but it is also not the answer to all of life’s problems. I want to think of it as a magical tool used to locate high quality resources floating beneath the layers and layers of misinformation tangled in the interwebs.
I am now very fortunate to spend my workdays searching for high quality parenting information as part of the OSU Parenting Education Team. The OPEC website will soon be launching a page of dedicated high quality parent resources so that the next time you are up at 3am desperately asking Google how to navigate the teething process, you will have some framework to know which sites to trust and which sites to trash. Even if you say no to Google, let’s face it…Google happens. It happens late at night when you change a diaper and it happens early in the morning when your child refuses to eat.
To develop these parenting resources, the OPEC team is looking to hear from parents and anyone who supports parents to learn what kinds of resources would be most helpful. We are launching a new campaign called #BEthePARENT that will center on the development of parenting resources that will help you to be the be the parent that you want to be. You are invited to be part of this journey by giving us your honest feedback. We will listen, and we will create.
Most importantly, parents should know that every child is unique. I don’t mean this in some phony bumper sticker kind of way. I mean it to say that you know your child best, so it’s not always necessary to depend on outside information (research-based or not) to get your answers. If you ever feel lonely or disconnected on your own parenting journey just remember that there are many parents out there going through similar situations. You can also take a parenting class to connect and learn more from other parents and instructors.
Now to cheese it up: Put the phone down, say goodbye to Google, take a deep breath and be the best parent you can be.
About the Author
Karley Lewis is a member of the OSU Parenting Education Team at Oregon State University. She holds a Masters degree in Psychological Science from California State University, Chico. Karley is a new-ish mom who is having fun trying to learn the ropes of parenting. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with family, playing a mean game of coed softball, painting and exploring the food and fun of Corvallis. To contact her, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative or Oregon State University.