I once babysat two children whose mother left a 3-ring binder for me. In it, I found a detailed schedule, various house rules, and each child’s likes and dislikes. Screen time was a definite no, as was sugar (obviously). Bedtime was 8 p.m. sharp, which made me briefly wonder if the kids would turn into pumpkins at 8:01. Really, all you need to know about this binder is it had laminated pages. And I was terrified to deviate from their glossy, 3-hole-punched schedule. I will never be that uptight, my 16-year-old self vowed. I knew, I just knew, I was going to be a chill mom.
The thin white paper on the exam table crinkled beneath me, its coolness a welcome reprieve from the August humidity. My OB/GYN palpated my pregnant belly, skin stretched taut over the latest subject of my vague and bottomless fears. The doctor waved her magic wand (fetal doppler) and from it emanated the most beautiful sound in all the world: the rhythmic swish of my son’s heartbeat.
“You read the pregnancy textbook!” She joked, meaning everything was progressing just as it should be in the third trimester. “Any questions?”
This was it. This was my chance. But the words felt like rocks in my mouth, hard and ugly. During the last several months of my pregnancy I had indulged a secret fear that had, as things often do in the dark, morphed into obsession.
Click here to read the rest of my essay, Chill Mom, on Coffee + Crumbs.