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I Think I'm Missing the Neurotic Mom Gene. Are You?

Joe Silverberg Photography


Full disclosure: Before we had Preston, Jay and I used to balk at some of the neuroses of the moms we know. (Sorry, guys!) We always said we’d never be like that. We wouldn’t be those parents whose lives and schedules revolved entirely around their kid’s naps and bedtimes. We’d be a lot more laid-back than that

Then guess what happened? We became those parents. Well, sort of. 

But here's the thing: We are pretty laid-back about most things other moms would probably be nuts about. To name a few examples, we bring Preston with us everywhere, and we don't worry about germs. We bring him to the grocery store and we don’t use those shopping cart covers (I try to do the wipe down when I think about it). He went to his first Cubs game before he turned 1, and we plan on taking him to his first Bulls game this winter (Germ City, right?). We’ve brought him on planes with us, even at only two months old. There's really nowhere we wouldn't take him...carnivals, parks, the zoo, restaurants, bars, the mall. It's always been that way, since he was born. And he gets his shots all at once, too, with each check-up (apparently some moms space them out). We lather him up with Johnson’s Bedtime Lotion after each bath, which, as a friend pointed out recently, reportedly has chemicals in it that have been linked to cancer (but I’m still using it because I love how it smells). When we moved into our condo before Preston was born, I didn't even think about using low-VOC paints -- this was a hot topic of debate the other night among my girlfriends. Am I supposed to lose sleep over this? Because I haven't. The list goes on and on; we break all the rules of the Neurotic Moms, I’m sure. But it’s just not in either one of us to worry about all of life's what-ifs. And we have a very happy, easy, sweet, adorable, healthy, laid-back baby with no skin or food allergies so far, not to jinx anything.

I ran into an old friend the other day who has a beautiful seven-month-old girl. We bumped into each other at Gap Kids, naturally; we were both flying solo. I asked where her little girl was, and she mentioned that she left her at home, which was easier than toting her along for a shopping trip. I nodded my head in agreement; I was in the exact same boat. But then she started telling me what a germaphobe she is -- she doesn’t like bringing her daughter out in public at all. “Are you out of your mind, she’s seven months old!” I wanted to scream, but obviously didn't. So I smiled awkwardly, and tried to breeze past it. I didn't know what to say, to be honest. I've never even considered for one second that bringing Preston out in public would be harmful in any way.

But I walked away thinking: Am I the one that's crazy? At two weeks old we brought Preston on a short road trip to Michigan for the night. At only eight days old, we had a bris for him at my parents’ house with no less than 100 people breathing on him. Clearly, germs are not something we spend too much of our time worrying about. 

HOWEVER, now that Preston’s finally crawling (well, army crawling), I have been a stickler about taking our shoes off in the house. Does that count as neurotic? I don’t want him licking the dirt off our shoes, obviously. I’ve been nagging Jay about it, and the other day I asked one of my friends to take her shoes off, too; first time I’ve ever done that. I felt a little neurotic for it, especially since we have a big dog milling around -- if dirt is what I’m worried about, I lost that battle the second we brought Preston home from the hospital. At this point, Barkley routinely licks the food off Preston’s hands at dinner, then Preston puts his hands back in his own mouth, faster than I can clean them off. Oh well! I flinch each time Barkley licks Preston, but there isn’t much I can do about it – and I love how unaffraid Preston is of Barkley. I certainly don’t want to make him neurotic about his licking, just because I am. 

We are very diligent about Preston’s nap schedules now, but we’ll veer off schedule from time to time, depending on the occasion. Is that neurotic? Weddings, bar mitzvahs, the holidays, and special occasions like Yo Gabba Gabba Live! this weekend -- it starts at 2 p.m., which is right in the middle of Preston’s nap, so we’ll have to tweak things a little on Saturday so we can go (he’s obsessed). Otherwise, we stick to the game plan as much as possible without becoming hermits. Every time we hear ourselves telling someone that we can’t join them for one thing or another because of Preston's sleep schedule, we always say to each other, “Yep, we’re being those parents now.” I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it; you have to do what works for you and your kids, period. If that means we miss out on certain parties or, ahem, day-drinking at bars during football season, I’m okay with it. 

Other than Preston’s nap schedule, and the removing of shoes in our house, I can’t think of anything I’m overly neurotic about. Maybe I should be a little more neurotic than I am... I don’t love it when Jay throws Preston up in the air -- it makes me so uncomfortable -- but I know the rough-housing is only going to get rougher as Preston gets older. My kid isn’t very mobile yet (he’s just barely cruising now), so we haven’t even scratched the surface of the things I’m going to get neurotic about, once he’s climbing on slides and jungle gyms and leaping off couches. Or my worst nightmare, climbing out of his crib -- that should be fun.

What kinds of things make you neurotic as a mom?