As a first time parent, it’s so hard to know what’s “normal” (hint: it doesn’t exist) and what’s not. And yet, we’re obsessed with figuring out where our baby lies on this imaginary yardstick—whether we’re talking about poop (smell, color, consistency, you name it), night wakings, developmental milestones, or bizarre baby behavior (e.g., repeatedly hitting oneself in the crotch to self-soothe before naps—not that I’ve witnessed this, of course).
So how does one determine the normalcy of a particular behavior/skill? Well, you can:
- Call your pediatrician (they love that)
- Google that shizz
- Ask fellow mommy/daddy friends
- Log onto Mommy Springer
Wait, what’s that last one? Oh, I’m talking about a little something called parenting forums. There’s a handful of them out there, and I happen to belong to one in particular, which also has a mobile app. I may or may not be known to check this thing
three five seven times a day (no shame).
Some people watch Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Judge Judy, etc. to feel better about themselves. Tuning in to the train wrecks on those talk shows is like popping a Prozac: Suddenly your own job/partner/life isn’t so bad after all. I like to call this the “Grass Is Always Browner Effect”. Sure, you’d like your sweetie to pick his dirty socks up off the floor a little more often (or, like, ever), but at least your partner isn’t taking a paternity test for three different baby mamas. Yeesh.
These parenting forums are like Jerry Springer for nervous moms and dads. Whether you’re lamenting over baby’s 5am wake-up calls, constipation, or colicky behavior, there’s always someone on the board who’s bound to have it worse off than you. After all, if you’re posting on a forum online, it’s probably because your babe is doing something less than stellar and you want advice/opinions/sympathy. Parents of perfect kids don’t need to post on these sites. Well, sometimes they do, but feel free to call them an a*hole and move on.
So, the next time your co-worker/friend/sister-in-law raves about how her seven-week old is already sleeping through the night, or you’re stressing over your babe’s constipation, take a deep breath and log onto your favorite parenting forum. You’re just moments away from finding some poor parent whose little one is waking every 45 minutes or hasn’t pooped in nine days (yikes). Give those parents a virtual hug, but don’t feel one bit guilty about that smile on your face as you realize the grass is a little greener on your own side.