As many of you may be aware, the Maiden has asthma. She was hospitalized for it just before she turned three, and her attacks are triggered by exercise, seasonal allergies, reactions to food, big upsets, and even too much heat and humidity–or too much cold. Also random things like “I’m sad that little pigs get turned into bacon” (after reading Charlotte’s Web, although it didn’t stop her from eating bacon the next day. Although it was turkey bacon. But still.).
Anyways, asthma. She travels with her inhaler, is on meds, the whole bit. We manage it, but it’s there.
I’m always on the lookout for new studies on respiratory disease. Mostly because I would love the Maiden to not have a condition which could, like, stop her breathing, for gosh sakes. Also I would love to banish meds, particularly steroids (Liquid Evil Child–1 tsp at bedtime), to the lowest circles of hell.
Then this article caught my eye–but it wasn’t comforting, bestirring, or full of hope. According to a recent study, a woman’s exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy can significantly impact her child’s risk of developing asthma.
Wait, did that really say what I thought it did?
I opened up the giant jug of Mommy Guilt and poured myself an oversized glass.
What did I do wrong? How did I screw up so badly that I afflicted the Maiden with something she might have to deal with her whole life? Where did I make a decision, even unconscious, that would have such a huge effect?
Could I have done anything different and changed things? Did I use the microwave/phone/laptop one too many times? Did I unknowingly expose her to danger? I’d never know, really. And that was the worst part, because it would never, ever let me off the hook.
From the moment we’re little kids, we assign blame. Usually it’s to get us out of trouble: it was your brother that broke Mom’s lamp, not you (yeah, right) or your dog who ate your homework (yeah, right).
And although grown-ups make plenty of excuses of their own (it was the Maiden’s fault I was in a crabby mood last weekend–for real, y’all), we often point in the opposite direction. Moms in particular pull the weight of the whole world–or at least, our own little family’s world–onto our shoulders.
We’re trying to be responsible for everything, but in reality we’re doing the reverse.
Our kids aren’t perfect. Our families have problems. Maybe someone’s sick, difficult, suffers some psychological or physiological condition. Whatever; everyone’s got something. We deal with what we have and we do the best we can. Making mistakes when we’re putting in our best doesn’t reflect on anything but our humanity. But when we let ourselves become so enmeshed in the self-blame game that we lose chances to enjoy our family, our children, and our life as it is now-–well, that’s a mistake to avoid at all costs.