A toilet-lock mom confronts child-safety fears
THOMASTON, MAINE — I just bought a toilet lock. I never thought of my toilet as dangerous before – then I became a mother. Now everything seems dangerous.
I used to look at my wood stove and think warm, cuddly thoughts; now I think about burns and smoke inhalation.
Electrical outlets and razors are obvious threats, but who ever thought popcorn or a dog's water dish could be dangerous?
I once spent 45 minutes, on my hands and knees, frantically searching for a paper clip that fell on the floor, convinced if I didn't find it, my baby would.
As soon as I conceived, I started reading all about pregnancy to prepare myself.
The more I learned, the more neurotic I became.
Immediately, I started obsessing about whether mercury from the can of tuna I ate before I knew I was pregnant would hurt my baby, whether my house plants were toxic, and if my bath water was too hot.
For the first time in my life, I started using handrails and even bought a blow dryer so I wouldn't leave the house with a wet head. Then, I read that hair dryers could harm a baby's neurological development.
Please. If hair dryers were truly health risks, Western civilization as we know it would have come to a screeching halt long ago.
That was the moment I threw the pregnancy book across the room, and started relying on my intuition – something we should all do more.
However, now that my baby is poised to start crawling, I'm starting to feel vulnerable again. Fear is a funny thing. It's the kudzu of all emotions: Just when you think you've mowed it down, it comes creeping back.
My own private homeland security alert hit red the day I bought the toilet lock.
I happened to be shopping with my mother, who looked at me in disbelief when I put the $14.99 plastic lock designed to prevent drowning and unsanitary water play in my cart.
"It's a wonder you survived," was all she said. It really is.
In 1969, the year I was born, maternity wards had ashtrays and people didn't even lock their front doors, let alone their toilets.
I don't think the world is more dangerous today. We've just been bombarded with information that tells us it is, and with advertisements for the products claiming to protect us.
Knowledge isn't always power.
I felt a little sheepish as I paid for my toilet lock, knowing down deep that I was being scared into opening my wallet. Yet I was unable to stop that nagging "what if" voice inside my head.
Leaving the store, I felt a little better when I saw the woman in Aisle 4 who had her toddler on a leash.
Maybe my threat level is only at orange.
• Brooke Williams is a columnist for The Camden Herald.