Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mother's intution does not require AA batteries

I just got off the phone with one of my good friends. When she first called me, I thought it might be Sasquatch or a prank caller. There was so much heavy breathing—and some gurgling.

"It's Rachel," she said, irritated. "I just walked up some stairs."

Ah, yes, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to be pregnant.

"I need your help," she moaned. She told me she needed a blanket. Except it was a question. Like, "I need a blanket?" Then she got angry. "Right? Don't I?" Then angrier. "Answer me! Don't I need a blanket? Doesn't my baby need a blanket?"

"Yes!" I said. "He does."

"See!" she said. "I knew that. I knew it. Fuck this shit!" She started laughing hysterically. Or she was crying, I really couldn't tell.

"What's going on?" I asked. "You sound a know..."

She took a deep breath. She'd been having a good day, she said. She'd slept late and decided to go to Babies "R" Us to register for her baby shower. She thought it would be fun.

Then, reality. This being her first baby, she had no idea what to get. There were things that needed batteries. Pumps. Swings. Cribs. Rockers. Gliders. Tables. Chairs. Slings. Carriers. Strollers. Jumpers. Heaters. Coolers. Tubs. Soaps. Lotions. Creams. Clippers. Sprays. Juices. Oatmeals. Diapers. Frames. Rugs. Bumpers. Sheets. Swaddlers. Nipples. Brushes. Diaper bags. Pads. Inserts. Warmers. Mirrors. Mobiles. Monitors. Rubs. Squeaky toys. Rattles. Rugs.

"I have no idea what a baby needs!" she wailed.

One thing was clear: She knew he needed a blanket.

"Don't I?" she asked again. "But the kid's coming in the summer. If it's hot do I need to cover him? Unless the air conditioning is on. Does he need those pajamas with the feet? Does he?"

Rachel's experience reminded me of my own first trip to Babies "R" Us—that flashy monolith of stuff—when I was pregnant with Junior. I'd gone on my own, like Rachel, to register for my baby shower, and I'd left the store completely fucked up. I might have run screaming.

There was so much. I suddenly had the feeling that everything I'd amassed in my 35 years of life wasn't enough. I needed more. So much more. I needed everything. The message was so clear: your baby didn't need you; your baby needed a continent's worth of shit.

I told Rachel it was okay. I told her about the rectal thermometer women. I told her that the only thing her baby needed after he was born was her. She could buy him a blanket, but he'd probably love one she already had because it would smell like her.

"Like a dog would?" she asked.


She promised she'd take it easy the rest of the night. She promised she wouldn't let her experience unnerve her, but I'm not convinced. I bet when I see her registry, it's going to have 2,675,987,256 things on it, many of which will wind up in the closet.

I don't know when the Baby Gear Movement started exactly, but it's done horrible things to motherhood. When you falsely believe that you cannot mother (or father) without the right apparatuses, you remove everything that is powerful about yourself as a mother. You remove the innate.

Worse yet, if you buy into the belief that if you don't have gear A, B, or C something terrible will happen to your baby, you invite fear into the mothering (or, of course, fathering) experience. From what I've seen, parenting from fear is a rotten way to raise a kid.

I wanted to tell Rachel all this. I wanted her to trust herself.

Instead I told her she could prank me any time she wants.

She snorted and hung up.


Sparkling said...

You're awesome!!!

Oren Miller said...

Ha. New parents should never go to these stores by themselves. Before they know it, they'll get video monitors for their one-bedroom apartments.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

This is SUCH a great post, and I'm sending it to my niece - a brand new Mama - right now.

Leanne said...

Thank God when I had kids I got diapers, a stroller and a nursing bra. I remember coming home and thinking, crap, we should have bought a crib.... Yep, I'm that old. ;)

Keely said...

Right? RIGHT? I'm STILL throwing out and giving away baby shit and my kid is 4. Why did I get all that crap?

Patty Woodland said...

I always buy new mothers diapers. Lots and lots of diapers. And onsies. I ignore all the crap and buy the essentials. And I don't have kids. I'm just a common sense kind of gal

MaryBT said...

My personal favorite "must-have" is the baby-bottle disinfecting machine. Because the million degree water in your dishwasher is apparently not enough to clean a nipple.

MaryBT said...

I thought about this a little and want to say one more thing...I think the whole "baby registry" movement has caused a lot of this insane gadgetry. I didn't register for my baby shower, pretty much all of my guests had had children before so I figured they'd know what to get. Plus, I think people find really cute things that aren't at Babies R Us. We got everything we needed. What I did not end up with was a bunch of useless junk. We bought our own crib, I already had a dresser.

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