Oh, Google. My friend, my foe. My frenemy.
The best thing about Google? It can answer any question conceivable – like when you can’t remember the name of that movie starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston with the creepy plot line where she thinks he’s her dad, finds out he’s not, and then they become lovers. Ewww.
This is also the very worst thing about Google. Its ability to satisfy any curiosity can fuel a habit more addictive than double-coated Tim Tams for a first time mum whose baby does something new and weird every day.
God help the person who ever finds my search history. I used to Google regular things, like train timetables and where to find the best coffee. Now, my search history is a gruesome role call of bodily functions. Poo, spew, dribble, earwax – Dr Google is on call to field any question.
“Normal?” Most of my searches end with this word. A hopeful plea for reassurance amid the stampede of worry.
My baby hasn’t pooed in four days. Normal?
Baby pooed four times in one day. Normal?
Baby doesn’t sweat; baby clenches his bum cheeks when I change his nappy; baby waves his head from side to side like Stevie Wonder before he goes to sleep. Normal?
My habit reached a whole new level when my boy started eating food.
His first bowl of stewed pears went down a treat, but immediate suspicion set in. Did they go down too easily? After all, there were some pretty chunky bits in there…
Phone in hand, Google at the ready. Hmm, let’s search for…”delayed choking.”
Problem is, the internet will always give you the answer you’re looking for. The first five results will provide peace of mind or have you speed dialling the home doctor. If you look hard enough, there actually is a vague reference to ”delayed choking” buried in a medical journal from 30 years ago.
The only real comfort comes when Google predicts what you’re about to type. That means someone before you has entered the exact same words. The relief I felt when I discovered I wasn’t the first person to have asked: “how can I tell if my baby loves me?”
Sometimes I think the generations of mothers before us, without a world’s worth of knowledge and advice at their fingertips, had it easier.
There’s a well-told story in my family about the day my sister dropped my other sister – a baby at the time – from the window.
Without any signs of injury, I’m sure mum just dusted them both off and got on with her day.
She didn’t have an iPad with a speedy internet connection to research concussion symptoms or the signs of attempted soroicide. Even if she did, she wouldn’t have had the time to use it.
Me and my other siblings – and there’s six of them – turned out to be well-rounded and perfectly intact people.
Bad habits are hard to kick, but surely this can’t go on forever?
I much prefer spending my time on the internet looking up pictures of Bradley Cooper hanging out with is mum or dedicating whole evenings to losing myself down a Facebook sink hole – those glorious, time-wasting nights that start off by looking up an old school mate and end up, hours later, splayed on the couch, scoffing liquorice bullets and browsing the profiles of people you don’t know and the photos of their wedding in Thailand.
Perhaps my habit will subside when my son is old enough to go online himself.
What might his first search be?
“My mum keeps Googling things about me. Normal?”
With thanks to the team at Bubba West Magazine who first published this article in edition 6.