One thing that has surprised me about parenting is the amount of guilt involved in seemingly innocent decisions. Choose wrong, and you are forever on the wrong side of some binary. You have to face every food decision, every outfit choice, every toy purchase with conviction, because at every turn there is someone (real or perceived) asking you to defend that choice.
For instance, Miles is sick right now. I have been putting off calling the pediatrician because I don't want to be one of those moms who calls the pediatrician all the time. We have taken him in probably four times in his life so far for illness, and each time were told he'd be fine. Nothing to worry about!
I feel this huge force pressuring me not to call the pediatrician because then I'll be one of "those people." There is this discussion on my mom's email list right now about the evils of pediatricians, how they are pawns for the pharmaceutical companies, little better than drug pushers with lollipops. I also know quite a few hypochondriacs who know their physicians better than they know some relatives. Why not pay them for the peace of mind that everything is ok?
In general, we choose to let him cough and snot and poop and grump for awhile. Watchful waiting, etc. Except that on Saturday, his cough turned into really raspy breathing and his eyes just poured junk. I wanted to take him to one of those pharmacy clinics, but settled for paging the pediatrician.
As I waited for Dr. H. to return the page, I chided myself for overreacting and paging my doctor on a Saturday. I did this a lot more after we had a chat and decided Miles was probably just suffering from a bad cold.
Then, this morning, he coughed to persistently and wheezed so mightily I decided the guilt of being one of "those people" was less horrible than the guilt of being one of those people who lets her baby succumb to pneumonia or similar, so I put the pediatrician on speed dial and called every 4 minutes until I got through (it's rough on a Monday morning!).
As it turns out, he has an ear infection. "On a scale of one to ten, with ten being worst, this is about a 4.5," our doctor said. What does this mean? It meant, first, that I wasn't one of "those moms" and that it was ok to call the doctor! One layer of guilt eliminated! But it also meant another choice to analyze: He wrote me a prescription for antibiotics, but left it up to me whether I filled it. Oh great!
If I give him the meds, I could be setting him up for a resistance to antibiotics. I might be one of "those moms" who is all drug crazy and just medicates every single problem. If I don't, he'll get better on his own eventually, but he will suffer through several more days of discomfort, crappy breathing, and shitty sleep. I'll be one of "those moms" and give up my own rest to spend the night soothing my poor.
Surprisingly, I came to a conclusion on this one relatively quickly. Corey is picking up the amoxicillin right this minute. Which leaves me free to fret about all sorts of other decisions.