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2010 April 19

Lots of parents fret over what they may be doing wrong in raising their children. Do they watch too much TV? Do I yell too much? Should they be drinking more milk? Getting more sleep? Spending less time with me? More time with me? The list of things we can do wrong (and right) is endless.

But what really gets to me — usually at about 4 am when I really wish I was sleeping rather than freaking out — is what I can’t do. I can’t protect Lilly from all the bumps, bruises and cuts she is bound to get in her toddler years. I can’t prevent freak accidents like planes falling out of the sky and landing on my house. (Yes, I actually worry about that.) And, as much as I wish I could, I can’t keep stupid, unsafe drivers off the road. (I’m talking to you, douchebag who let an unsecured bookcase fly out of his pick-up in front of my car last week!) So what is a neurotic mom, like myself, to do?

Seriously. I’m asking. Because after a week like this one my nerves are shot.

It started off with a routine sick visit to the pediatrician. Lilly was runny a month ago, still coughing mostly at night. Her allergy medicine is not helping. I expected a new prescription for the latest and greatest allergy medicine. Instead, I’m hearing things like “pneumonia,” “foreign object” and “chest x-ray.” I’m sorry, what?!

Now before I get a panicked call from my mom: all the films looked good and it does appear to be allergies. But here’s what I’m getting at — have you ever seen your toddler in a hospital gown? It is quite possibly one of the most heart-breaking images you will encounter. Even if it’s a routine exam and everything checks out — as was the case here — it leaves you with haunting fodder for what-ifs. I don’t care how many Tweety-Birds you print on that gown, it’s depressing as hell. [Ahem, support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital here.]

So with that behind us, we set out to have a better week. Wednesday afternoon Lilly was having a fantastic time practicing her running; beaming ear to ear shuffling along the driveway at a quick pace, chanting, “1, 2, 3 – baby running!” Then, on about her 30th pass, and probably at the precise instant the staff at the pediatrician’s office turned off the lights for the night, she went face first into the driveway. Blood everywhere. Tears streaming. And me, desperate to confirm that she still had all her teeth and no major injuries.

An ice pop, several showings of The Wiggles and 2 days of a fat lip later, I took Lilly to the zoo, only to have her trip on an elevated walkway. Generally, I consider this walkway safe, even for an untethered toddler, since the side rails are sturdy with a s0lid backing leaving only a couple inches of unshielded space at the bottom, much smaller than Lilly. I had not considered how much smaller Lilly is when horizontal. Judging by the gasps behind me, this occurred to the family following me right about the same time I grabbed Lilly’s leg to keep her from rolling any closer to the edge.

And as if that wasn’t enough action this week, we took Lilly to her first baseball game yesterday. The second we agreed to go, I began seeing images of a foul ball straying into our section and knocking Lilly in the head, but I forced these anxious thoughts from my head. I mean really, what are the odds? With half an inning left in the game, Lilly slipped and bumped her mouth on a picnic table, again drawing blood and tears, but no major injuries. Not ideal, but certainly not new territory. So, as we were walking away from a successful, calming session on the carousel, I was beginning to set aside my anxious concerns. I bent down to fix Lilly’s hat and BAM! — a homerun ball flies right above our heads, hits the carousel and falls about 10 feet away from us.

Ok, so maybe the take-away here is no (major) harm, no foul. Accidents are going to happen. But having had several hours to relive all these stressful little moments each night between 2 am and 5 am, and consider alternative outcomes, I really see only one realistic option that will get me through the next 18 years or so without a nervous breakdown. Which brings me to my final question: anyone know where to get a good toddler-sized bubble?

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