So my baby is 10½ months old and he’s teething.
First things first, I used to find it super annoying and completely unnecessary when parents would state their child’s age in months. Like, who gives a shit if your child is 13 months? He’s a year. And if your kid is 23 months, he’s almost 2. Plus, at a certain point, you have to stop quantifying his age in months, because he’s 7 now and you sound crazy.
But then I had a baby of my own and he’s so monstrously gigantic, I’m tempted to state his age in days. That extra ½ after 10 somehow legitimizes why he’s noticeably larger than most three-year-olds, but anyway…
So my 10½-month-old is teething. He wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes, screaming in pain. I can’t blame him; it must be terrifying to have hard, sharp points ripping through your soft gums. I flinch getting a routine shot at the doctor’s office, and speaking of that, we pump three vaccines in a row into our babies’ teeny tiny bodies in each visit. No wonder they hate us. That and they have no ability to clean themselves up after they poop their pants. I’d cry, too.
So he’s teething through these sleepless nights, and I tell this to people when I’m haggard from my no-sleep night, and they always give the same advice. “Just rub a little whiskey on his gums and he’ll go right to sleep.”
My precious, vulnerable infant child has a rapidly developing brain that’s firing off bazillions of signals and forming all of life’s building blocks for his intelligence and physical capabilities for the rest of his hopefully very long, happy, prosperous, well-adjusted life, and to remedy his perfectly natural condition that lasts just a few short hours in the grand scheme of things, you’d like me to introduce him to a controlled, federally regulated substance and a potentially debilitating disease called ‘alcoholism.’ All before the kid can even recite his own name. Right.
Give him a couple decades to get so loaded he can’t say his own name.
And these same folks are the ones who send me links to stories about dangerous chemicals in non-organic produce and plastic water bottles and whatever else the HuffPost can get clicks for. Those age-appropriate recommendations on toys, food, clothing… those are to be followed like Sharia law, but 90-proof Maker’s Mark? I can fudge the 21-and-over label for that.
So let’s review, Jack Daniel’s… OK! Chiquita Banana? No fucking way, you terrible mother.
I get pretty hung up on this idea of being a “good mom.” Am I spending enough one-on-one time with him? Am I engaging him during that time? Is he learning? Is he, God forbid, behind for his age?
I’m doing my absolute best, but I’m constantly doubting myself, thinking I’m not doing enough to develop his intellect and he’s going to end up dropping out of high school and flailing around the gritty streets of El Paso or some other shitty place no one ever goes to — seriously, who the hell goes to El Paso? — but then I think to myself, what did the moms on the pioneer think about child-rearing?
Nothing! They were too busy trying to fashion a year’s worth of food, clothing, tools and heat from one possibly disease-ridden animal.
And the mothers shielding their children from air raids and terrorist acts in war-torn third-world countries? Think they give a shit about when to build a discovery table?
And I feel so relieved. Like, “phew. My kid’s going to be ok.” Some dirt-covered, malnourished child with jacked up teeth and a cleft palate has it way worse, so my kid’s reluctance to wearing shoes is probably OK. And those are the comforting thoughts that help me realize, I’m not a terrible mother.
A terrible person?