Becoming a parent has done a lot of things to me. For example – I feel things in ways I’ve never felt them before — my highs are higher and my lows are lower. For another example – my weight is higher and my IQ is lower.

So many things.

Parenthood has also turned me into a raging hypochondriac. Last week I called both the pediatrician and my skin doctor to make emergency appointments for what turned out to be a scratch and a bug bite, respectively. I was sure both were some deadly form of melanoma.

In my defense, smack in the middle of the back is a weird spot for a scratch, no?

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“Better safe than sorry,” I told myself that day as I emailed my kids doctor for the third time that week and all but asked for his home number in case I needed to reach him at 3 am on a Saturday. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m trying to start something up with him. Although the baseball hat and unbrushed teeth I wear to every appointment would suggest otherwise.

Another thing parenthood has done to me answers to the name postpartum anxiety, and is good friends with my hypochondria. It’s barreled into my life with the fury of a thousand suns and I remain decidedly unenthusiastic about welcoming it.

It first showed up after Alex was born in 2016. Therefore I’ve made an executive decision that he alone will be responsible for caring for me in my old age, which will probably come early if this continues.

I’ve found various ways to deal with it. Mostly it manifests when I’m driving, usually on the highway. It’s taken some trial and error to figure out what will help stave off panic attacks behind the wheel. Some things that didn’t work — Yanni, Lavender oil, singing The Wheels on The Bus, and deep tissue massage. I’m convinced this last one would have worked if I could have hired someone else to do it for me as I drove. Attempting it myself, in fact, made the situation worse.

Some things that do work — listening to Podcasts (Oh how I ❤️ Mike Rowe), giving up caffieine (at the stage of life I need it most, oh how I despise that) and various distraction techniques. When my kids are awake, playing referee is distracting enough. But when they’re alseep I need something else, so I’ve taken to playing a license plate game with myself.

Most Wisconsin license plates have three letters in a row, so I’ll take the license plate of every car that passes me and make as many complete sentences out of those three letters as I can before the next car passes.

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Little Daddy Zebra. Loud Daddy Zebra. Loving Daddy Zebra. Late Daddy Zebra. Laughing Daddy Zebra.

Turns out this game also stands to help my vocabulary, as I seem to get stuck on certain words.

To that end, there are an awful lot of V’s in license plates. And there are only so many sentences I can make with Vacation, Victoria and Virginia before my mind goes to the obvious V word I’m omitting. Twice now I’ve seen the unfortunate license plate BHV. Do with that what you will.

This leads me to another thing that parenting young kids has done to me — it has put some anatomically correct verbiage at the front of my mind and vocabulary.

We spend a lot of time identifying body parts. Recently we’ve also spent a lot of time lately reading Little House on the Prairie – which is why last week when I was giving someone our insurance group number over the phone — a group number that starts with FV — I rattled off “F as in fiddle, V as in vagina” so casually that it wasn’t until the woman on the other end started laughing that I realized what I’d said.

**hand to face**

Omg my forehead feels hot. Could be a fever. Could be imminent death. Better call my doctor just to be safe.