As of late, I am incensed with large, unfeeling corporations who create products that are harmful for consumers. The latest in this list? Johnson and Johnson, whose products have been found to contain formaldehyde. Did I mention that the products containing this agent, which is a known carcinogen, include those marketed for babies? For shame!

It is easy to become downcast at such thoughts. After all, we all spend our hard earned dollars to obtain said products such as that mentioned above (for our children, for ourselves), and it is so disappointing to learn that the products are not good for us (as they claim to be). After learning that our one-year-old son’s shampoo and body wash (both made by Johnson and Johnson) contain things like formaldehyde, my husband and I tossed it all into the garbage. And so it is out of our lives… or is it? Today we went to the drugstore to purchase a replacement, which seemed to be free and clear of toxic elements. Guess what I found out this evening? It is made by Johnson and Johnson! We, the consumer, are subject to massive parent companies who produce ad nausea. Thinking we have escaped the dishonest marketing and unsavory ingredients of one line of products, we are liable to stumble right into another without realizing it!

So, as we can see, it is hard work to find good, pure, beneficial (not harmful) products for our families. You know what else is hard work? Babies! Babies is hard work. Wait a second, something feels off about that sentence… ah yes, here we go: Babies is are hard work. Yes, indeed. They require daily maintenance and every parent gets tired sometimes. My young son Theo has culled a few harmless yet exasperating skills that occasionally make me howl in dismay (on the inside).

Example 1:

Occasionally, I prepare a considerable feast for him to consume, and he immediately and joyfully hurls it on the floor while I beg for mercy. He responds with uproarious laughter, and I cry.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration… I don’t always cry.

Example 2:

At around 8 months of age, my son started to get colds (please see photo below for actual documentation of Theo’s first cold and the heinous reality it wrought upon us). Lots and lots of colds. Now, at twelve months plus loose change, it is novel to see his nose snot-free. Yes, these days, I’ve grown most-accustomed to the strange awe that falls when I view that perpetually thick veil of mucus coursing down, an eternal wellspring bubbling from both nostrils, which I am required (by my own sense of decency) to wipe approximately 34 times a day.

Striking awe into the hearts of many

Striking awe into the hearts of many

The best part of the constant cacophony of coughing and snot is this: each night, before bed, my husband and I have the rare pleasure of pinning my strong, wiry child to the bed in order to use what is called a “Snotsucker” to forcibly remove said snot from his nasal passages. My son screams as this practice is exercised, and incidentally, he also kind of looks like a demon is being exorcised (see what I did there?). Anyway, the gaget (said “Snotsucker; that is its real name, not a pseudonym invented by me. I am just not that clever!) is extremely effective. I recommend it! But, dear parent, prepare thyself for thy child to assume the appearance of human having brains sucked out by sadistic aliens.

I hope the above illustrations have enabled you to understand that parenting is, at times, hard work. However, as I mentioned before, this difficulty is tempered by something: cuteness! Children are very cute! And they do surprising things all the time. Cute things + surprising things = parental delight! As we all know, delight counteracts hard work; I believe the actual mathematical equation is:

hard work + delight = life worth living!*

(*I added the exclamation point for effect. It has no mathematical value.)

Yep, when you consider an equation like that, it is easy to see that parenting is a pretty decent gig (in the realm of those that do not pay, but cost money).

Cuteness in point: I am fairly certain that my son has started to utter the phrase “Get duck!!”. Out of his little mouth, these words sound more like “Get dutt!” Nonetheless, the similarity is enough, and the context in which the phrase is spoken is consistent enough, that I have decided to believe that he is uttering actual words. Other than “Mama” (which is whined, cried, spoken stoically, wailed, and muttered roughly 214 times per day), I had henceforth been unable to pick out any words from among the maniacal babbles that pour forth from his mouth from sunup to sundown. Until now!!!

The thing with the duck is this: it is about 4 feet long and mostly resides face down (it is a sort of dimensionless duck; think duck pancake) on our living room floor. Eric’s aunt mailed the huge, yellow, furry, fuzzy, HUGE thing in a garbage bag from the States (where she lives) a few months back. My love for the duck has increased exponentially with each day that he shares our lives. Upon his arrival, Eric, Theo and I proceeded to play a game called (informally) “Get the Duck”; the only rules are that the participants crawl toward duck, jump on top of duck, and make growling sounds while shrieking “Get the duck!” Theo located a passionate affinity for the game instantaneously, and often crawls over to the duck to initiate the game, giggling and growling with gusto. This week I noticed that some words were mixed in with the rowdy growls and giggles: “GET DUTT!” See?! That’s cute.

Why do I attempt to demonstrate the hard work and cuteness entailed by parenting to you, dear reader? Because I also want to make something clear. That something is as follows; I have outlined what I believe to be a ground-breaking thesis in 3 point form.

I. Parents who work hard should not have to:
a) find out that they have been bathing their child in harmful ingredients (like formaldehyde, among other things) for the first year of the child’s tender life
b) find out that they PAID to bathe their child in said harmful ingredients
c) toss out these products, disregarding usual personal semi-religious adherence to recycling all viable plastic waste, thereby suffering in conscience, resulting in loss of quality sleep (okay, this one is a stretch. i wanted a “c” for my list.)

And the cuteness; what’s with all the blabber about that? Simple: babies are cute, and cuteness is to be cherished.

Here is a definition of cherish:

verb: cherish; 3rd person present: cherishes; past tense: cherished; past participle: cherished; gerund or present participle: cherishing
1. protect and care for (someone) lovingly.
“he cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart”
synonyms: adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire
-hold (something) dear.
“I cherish the letters she wrote”
synonyms: treasure, prize, value highly, hold dear
-keep (a hope or ambition) in one’s mind.
“he had long cherished a secret fantasy about his future”
synonyms: harbor, entertain, possess, hold (on to), cling to, keep in one’s mind, foster, nurture

You might have noticed that nowhere in that unnecessarily long definition of cherish was it mentioned that to cherish a person or thing is to bathe the cherished in formaldehyde.

And with that, dear reader, I bid you adieu.

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hard work + delight