Germaphobic Mom Relents
How to leave the shrink wrap in the pantry.
When Benjamin was born, we'd already set in place a plan for his care once my maternity leave expired. My husband works different shifts than I do, while also completing his teaching degree, and planned to assume "daytime Ben-watch" with the help of my parents, who would watch him a few hours a week.
I returned to work without concern that my boy would be neglected, but a thought did niggle--a thought I did not share with my worry-prone husband.
I work in a germ factory. I teach teens who don't always wash after using the bathroom and who don't necessarily believe that cleanliness is a necessity. Now, I remember my teen days when I skipped a shower in favor of more sleep or used my sleeve because there wasn't a tissue nearby. But what if those germs jumped ship and hitched a ride home with me to take up residence on my son?
I'd heard horror stories of daycare illness woes--strep throat, earaches, thrush--and thought, "Whew! I'm safe. Ben's at home with Daddy." But I forgot about being the mother ship carrier of microscopic invaders with sights set on my innocent, unaware son.
I wish I hadn't wasted so much time worrying! The little guy's survived three colds with some style and a bit of grace. He does NOT like having his nose squeegeed and one would think to hear him during this "procedure" that I was puncturing him with the nose, belly button, eyebrow and earrings favored by my students. The colds, however, haven't slowed him down.
We haven't been awakened from a sound sleep by a heart-wrenching wail of earache or filled the tub with lukewarm water in an attempt to lower a raging fever. No 3am trips to St. Luke's emergency room. Benjamin's a healthy little dude.
My students may have initially thought I'd chosen to single-handedly wage war on all potential germs. My battle lasted about a month before I flew the white tissue in surrender. But during that battle, I scrubbed each desk with Lysol regularly, broke a Guinness record number with the hand sanitizer bottles I bought and used in a month, and sent a record number of sneezing students to the nurse.
Eventually, I loosened up and rolled with it. I'm sure one day Ben will thank me for not requiring that he spend his childhood encased in Lysol-soaked shrink-wrap.