I honestly don't know what parents did before the internet, or how anyone survived such dark days. While I'd like to say that the most vital parenting tool in my arsenal has been my quick thinking and maternal intuition, that's a lie: it's Google. I don't think a day has gone by in the past six years when I haven't turned to this magical site to figure out WTF I'm doing as a parent. If you look at my week in Google searches as a mother of two, a very clear and telling portrait of my life begins to emerge.
My search history, for better or worse, goes a long way to explain pretty much all of the ads I get. Even the weird ads that pop up are explainable, because things get so absolutely wacky I'm sure I throw off Goggle's algorithms. ("OK, a minute ago she was asking us how to sleuth vegetables into food, then she ordered a whole bunch of cleaning supplies, and now she's asking us for 'fart a capella videos'. Is that even a thing? Oh look, here's one.") Google gets me, probably because it's collecting literally all my data and using it for corporate gain, but I digress.
An exhaustive list of my searches would take far too much of your time, and would have surely driven even the most fastidious reader to madness. But I thought it would be enlightening to take a look at the highlights from one week of Google searches. For posterity, for science, for me to be able to cry out for help because holy sh*t motherhood is exhausting and frustrating and if I can't laugh about it with strangers on the internet then what's the damn point?
"How do you set delay brew on Mr. Coffee?"
If you do not think this is parenting related then you are clearly not a parent. Coffee is my life blood. It enables me to raise my children. I do not know of a word in English that can express the genuine joy I feel in the ritual of pouring, preparing, and taking that first sip every morning, but I suspect there's one in German, since they have a word for everything.
This all happens after the bus gets the boy and I drop off the girl at preschool. I walk back in my door, to my silent house, and feel a kind of zen as I ready my coffee maker. But this past Monday I thought, "How much better would life be if I was greeted by the aromatic scent of the dark roast as soon as I walked in the door?" Google was happy to help me out, too, because Google is my friend.
"How to brush a toddler's hair"
Please meet my daughter and my daughter's hair which, legally, may be its own entity at this point. We have a team of lawyers looking into it.
Anyway, she loves her beautiful long hair, and so do I. But here's something I say literally every day: "If you want beautiful long hair, you have to let me brush it." It's usually said in an exasperated sigh, because as soon as homegirl sees the brush she goes running and screaming. It almost always gets done (and when it doesn't, thank God for topknots) but it's a battle. Even Google, in its infinite wisdom, has not proven especially helpful.
Other things that have been Googled in relation to this little one's luxurious locks include, but are not limited to:
"Best detangler for kids"
"How to get toy with propeller out of hair" (That was a fun day.)
"Short haircuts for toddlers." (Because some days you're just done.)
"Why are kids obsessed with butts?"
I was always just a little bit unjustifiably smug that my son never had a "potty humor" phase. When someone else would bemoan their child's preoccupation with private parts, I'd just mentally flip my hair and be all, "My kids never went through that though. It's probably because we're so sex positive and so it was just never a big deal to them. La dee da, I'm so great."
But pride, as they say, goeth before a fall.
When my daughter became verbal and started naming all her stuffed animals "Poopy-Poopy" and "Pee-Pee" and started telling everyone about her vagina at the dinner table, I was like: "OK, well... whatever. The boy never did any of this, and he's older. So, clearly, he's going to be a shining example of propriety forever and ever."
Then, somewhere along the line (and I don't know why) my son discovered asses. Like, he always knew they were a thing, but he began to appreciate them on a new level. He started showing me his constantly. He'd stare at other people's. He started grabbing my ass and I had to tell him it was inappropriate (I also had to tell my husband he had to stop grabbing my ass in front of the boy because "blah blah blah, modeling good behavior.")
And, of course, when you're 6 and super-interested in asses, you start becoming super interested in farts as well.
What. Happened. To. My. Wholesome. Child?
(Google doesn't have too much to say on the topic, except that it's normal and nothing to worry about.)
"You're basically twerking," I told him one day as he bounced his bare bottom in the living room.
"What's twerking?" he asked.
I knew better than to Google that one with a child present.
"Best meatloaf recipe"
"Internal temperature of meatloaf"
"How to introduce new foods to older children"
"Meditative breathing techniques to calm down"
"How long will meatloaf keep in the refrigerator?"
I am convinced that there should be some sort of universally diagnosed affliction called "Cooking While Moming." Symptoms include stressing out about whether your family is eating a well-balanced diet, never finding one dish that will satisfy everyone at your table, and wallowing in the shattered remains of your ego as your children scream and gag over the meal you've spent hours researching, shopping for, preparing, and serving.
That's what was going on with the meatloaf.
I've tried to be chill about my kids' diets. I do believe that, on the whole, if you continue to offer new foods but mostly let them decide what they eat or don't then, eventually, things will sort themselves out. But the limits of this very zen, laid back approach are being tested, people. They're tested daily. You can hear about how disgusting your cooking is for so long before it starts to hurt your feelings and you get upset.
"Where can I watch full episodes of Paw Patrol?"
One of the first things I learned as a mom is that by Friday you can't even. Literally every last f*ck has broken out of its cage and fluttered to the nearest open window, never to be seen again. It is no coincidence, therefore, that Friday is my family's "special movie night." Normally there are no screens allowed after my husband gets home from work. But on Fridays we eat DIY pizza on a picnic blanket in the living room and, instead of spending the evening engaged in meaningful (but still tiring) fun activities, we all chill out in front of the TV until it's time for the kids to go to bed. While it has become a beloved weekly tradition, I'm not going to pretend that it didn't at least partially come to be because I'm bone-weary at the end of the week. Sometimes, in lieu of a movie, my kids will binge-watch episodes of their favorite shows. Recently, my daughter was made aware of the existence of Paw Patrol and chose that when it was her turn to pick. We don't have cable, so I knew I would have to stream it somewhere.
This brings me to one of the other first things I learned as a mom: YouTube is a terrifying hellscape of off-brand cartoon characters that will haunt your dreams and wither your soul. Unless you are familiar with the videos you are looking for, you should never go straight to YouTube or trust anything to be what it appears to be. Because before you know it you're hip-deep in weird videos in which SpiderMan has impregnated Else from Frozen. I'm not kidding. It's a thing. It's a thing because people are weird AF.
So I have made it a habit of Googling first, then previewing, then monitoring closely because I don't want my children to grow up to be ax-murderers with a SpiderMan fetish.
The weekends are an important time for my family to unplug as much as possible, but that doesn't mean mama can rest those Googling thumbs.
"Hiking trails near me"
"What does poison ivy look like?"
"What does a deer tick look like?"
"How to remove a tick"
"Lyme disease symptoms"
"Pediatricians near me open on a weekend"
"Where can I watch full episodes of Paw Patrol?"
Because nature is supposed to be relaxing, but it's stressful and full of goddamn ticks. Long live technology, I say. Let's all sit back and watch cartoons.
Thank you, Google. You may have gotten me into this mess in the first place, but you're always there to get me out of messes, too.
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