I was talking to my old college buddy, Dr. Brian Primack, last night, catching up after at least a year since we last spoke. (He’s got 2 kids, we’ve got 3, you know how that goes.) I was talking to him about “Mother Load” and this whole idea that I’ve been chewing on for two years: that parenting is getting harder and harder, because the hurdles we have to jump are increasing daily. MRSA! Lead paint in toys! Autism in vaccines! Date rape drugs in Aquadots! And how I alternate between actually stressing about these things, and trying to put them out of my head, but stressing that I’m NOT stressing. Either way, you feel like a lousy mother, and you can’t win.
Brian, who has a knack for crystallization, said: “It’s going to be very interesting what we discover in medicine in the next 20 or 30 years. Because we know 1 milligram of lead per square centimeter of painted surface is the threshhold, the point at which lead can be dangerous. But we can’t quantify worry. We don’t know at what levels worry and stress become dangerous, because we can’t measure them. But someday soon, we will be able to measure them; and then we’ll understand just how much damage we’ve caused, to ourselves and our children, by the stressful ways that we live today.”
“I gotta write that down,” I said, and grabbed a pen. Now I’m telling you. And I hope to put that in a book someday, and give Dr. Brian Primack credit. That’s a priority-straightener if I ever heard one.