Upon entering the world, our son was offered a welcome bag complete with hand sanitizer, wipes, and a clean little bubble he was immediately placed in.
His bassinet was a sanctuary approachable to only those who underwent intense interrogation.
"Where were you last night when Aunt Gertrude sneezed?"
A few were allowed to wave at him from several feet away, but many were turned away from the gleaming baby inside the perfectly skirted bed. This was due to an intense fear of germs I formed when I had him.
My fear stemmed from the many reports rolling in about the deadliness of the swine flu —also called H1N1.
It was 2009 and news of related deaths and break-outs, with the word pandemic thrown into the mix every now and then, scrolled across the bottom of the television screen in my hospital room as I held my precious newborn.
They were advising mothers to be cautious especially with infants 6 months and below, and I figured if he were to get sick, it would be my fault for not being vigilant enough.
Babies, being the little bundles of both joy and projectile bodily fluids, are hard to keep clean; but at least when the germs were his own I felt a little better. Going out in public and combating foreign germs just seemed impossible, though.
Shopping carts and playground equipment were wiped down with disinfectant, and well-meaning strangers who wanted to breathe on him and squeeze his cheeks barely avoided my wrath—my wrath, by the way, includes a dirty look and later griping to my husband. Like I mentioned another time, I am an approval seeker.
Everyone and everything became a potential threat and sometimes, I even avoided leaving the house for social events when I thought too many people might be there. Living in fear of the unknown is really hard, because we only have so much control over life.
I was exhausted from chasing him down with sanitizer and disinfectant spray, and I finally just gave up after an especially disgusting day at the park when Logan drank after a complete of strangers.
A hairy belly hung out of the bottom of this man’s Budweiser shirt, as Big Mac sauce dribbled down his chin and onto the rim of the supersized drink he was chugging.
When he got up and left his drink sitting on the bench it was like a beacon in the night to a thirsty toddler.
His face lit up as he saw it right before his descend down the slide. I knew what was about to happen. I jumped off the picnic table, hurdled over play equipment, and sailed over top of other people’s children as my friends cheered me on.
In full stride, I reached for his chubby little hand to slap the drink out of it, and went face first into the ground.
I am pretty sure the whole thing happened in slow motion.
I was too late; I can still hear the crowd groaning as I tasted the dirt and looked up. Logan cocked his head at me and just kept chugging that Big Mac dribble. I waited for something to happen. A cough, a sniffle — a hairy belly protruding from his Winnie the Pooh PJs, but nothing happened.
From there on I found myself a little looser about things.
Learning to let go is frightening, but then again it is a relief to know that some things are out of my hands. I always try my best, but I now realize some things are just going to happen whether I like it or not.
Especially with Logan.
When I confiscated gum he’d scraped off the bottom of the shopping cart, I shook my head and kept on shopping. When he shared his ice cream cone with the dog who I’d scolded for drinking from the toilet, I took a deep breath and got him a new one.
Then when I offered him a bite of my sandwich and he scrunched up his nose with disgust and opted instead for carpet fuzz, I shrugged my shoulders and shared it with the dog instead.