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In a Reddit rant, a mom pointed out how challenging it is for parents to contend with a never-ending avalanche of conflicting choices and threats.

By Maressa Brown
December 12, 2019
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woman holding baby and stack of diapers with thought bubbles saying "cloth or disposable," " polyester or cotton?" and "organic or conventional"
Credit: Illustration by Sarina Finkelstein; Getty Images (1)

Even before welcoming their little one, parents are faced with a barrage of decisions, choices, and turns in the road that may or may not entirely be up to them. And as if doing your own research wasn't overwhelming enough, then of course everyone and their BFF has a "must-know" tip or rule or suggestion about how to parent best. The phrases "overwhelming" and "anxiety-inducing" don't even begin to cut it. A mom recently summed this up in a relatable rant posted to the Beyond the Bump subreddit.

Writing under the handle InstantRobotWar, the original poster (OP) listed the economically-minded, politically-charged, and often contradictory advice parents receive: "Don't buy polyester footie pajamas, the fibers put microplastics in the oceans. But also don't buy cotton because it's one of the most polluting agricultural products on the planet. Buy organic cotton. But that just means they're using pesticides that haven't been cracked down on yet. Also you shouldn't spend so much money on these things, you need to put that money towards his college fund, which is going to need to be $100k at least. And don't buy anything from China, they're evil. Sucks if you can't find anything organic made in the U.S. though. And you shouldn't be buying from Amazon, they treat their workers poorly. And the package waste is phenomenal."

She continued, "Maybe just let your baby go naked, they need that skin to skin contact with you. Oh, it's below freezing where you are? You should heat the house enough to not have to wrap the baby up so much. But then your heating bill is huge, and it's using natural gas which pollutes. We should improve the insulation. But it's $10K for the stuff that doesn't shred your lungs, and it doesn't work as well. Your baby is breathing that air? Also get non-plastic things if its going into baby's mouth, like silicone. But let your husband have some say too, and he bought the colorful plastic bottles."

The OP noted that parents are frequently told they are "obviously suffering from postpartum anxiety" and "should get out of the house, scenery is great for both of you." But then it's freezing outside, so you should go to a mall. "Oh except it's flu season, so just keep his car seat covered...with that polyester carseat cover that says wash before using because it's got formaldehyde or whatever in it," InstantRobotWar shared. "Oh but don't keep him in the carseat for longer than 90 minutes. It can cause his airway to collapse. Take him out every 90 minutes. But wash your hands first. But don't be too clean because hygiene hypothesis and otherwise he won't develop an immune system. Don't let him out of your sight for a minute. But don't be a helicopter parent."

She went on to say that parents will hear that none of this matters given the climate crisis.  "Your baby is going to have to deal with this new world of food shortages and refugee migration and ecosystem collapse, in addition to having the government run by people who don't give a f*** and put their profit above all else and are able to convince half the country that the s*** they've been given is ice cream," the OP wrote.

She admitted that there is middle ground but feels like every time she goes on Reddit, there's a new article about the poison in the air or food or water or clothing and the actions that people need to take—from voting with your wallet to voting to canvassing—to make a difference. And in addition to the daunting news, she's inundated with parenting advice that might be outdated.

"How can you let your baby sleep like that, or on that?" she wrote. "Or wear those clothes? Or have those toys? Or eat foods that are part of the dirty thirty or whatever ones have huge amounts of pesticides that lead to endocrine issues and cancer?"

The OP said she wishes she could be like her son, "just completely unaware and able to enjoy things," she wrote. "I feel like I have to protect him from literally EVERYTHING, but it's pointless. He's probably already full of microplastics, and there's nothing I can do about it. I can only try my best, but trying my best means worrying the f*** out of myself. I could be doing better. Doing organic everything and no plastics and no pollutants and no pesticides. But it's in the air and water and clothes and food and I can't get away from it."

She wrote that her husband says she worries too much. Meanwhile, she is off to change a disposable diaper. "But those fill landfills, keep thinking of that giant pacific garbage patch which is 100x bigger than we though!" InstantRobotWar wrote. "I should use cloth. But those waste water. And I don't have enough time for cloth, I need to prioritize sleep and self-care. Remember all the midwives telling you to get enough sleep and take care of yourself and take a shower? But then husband comes home and says you're home all day, so why aren't the dishes done? So, you still need to get stuff done. But prioritize your well-being. But also prioritize the environment. But also prioritize the velcro baby, so he doesn't get trust issues. But also prioritize your mental health."

Her conclusion: "But also but also but also, and don't forget that nothing you do is the correct thing."

Fellow Redditors could relate to the OP. Bindersclips wrote, "I'm sorry, I have no advice, only commiseration."

Kristybun shared, "You just summarized a lot of the things going on in my postpartum brain so beautifully. The organic vs. conventional food is a particularly annoying one for me—both have pesticides, but which are worse? I wish someone could tell me the answer." She concluded, "I actually stopped checking Reddit often because it just stressed me out more. I'm focusing on just living my life rather than thinking about how I should be living, making common sense choices, and asking my doctor for the basics."

CrimsonPorpoise said she used to "tie herself up in knots over this stuff too," but that didn't make her feel any better. Her solution, which sounds like the only way to cope with all the noise and contradictions: "Instead of obsessing over what I can't control, I concentrate on things I can do... I can teach my child how to be a kind person, I can try to shop locally, I can recycle properly. There's a lot I can do that is not going to solve all the problems, but they're still worth doing. To quote Eleanor from The Good Place, 'Why not try? It's better than not trying.'"

As frustrating as it can be to hear so much, often conflicting advice, hopefully responses like these help the OP feel supported and less alone. When it comes to contending with an endless barrage of imperfect decisions and constant threats that the world presents, it doesn't hurt to know that you're one of many parents who is simply doing your best. And that is enough.

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