I wandered the aisles of that baby megastore in amazement. A humidifier in the shape of an elephant that blew a cool mist from its trunk, strollers in every shape and size (with a price point equal to the down payment we put on our last car), a warmer for baby wipes, diaper bags with a built-in changing pad, a motorized hammock that played music to lull bambino to sleep, a breathing monitor to clip on to the baby's diaper, a camera that mounts to the crib to watch the baby sleep.
I found myself saying, "I don't think you need that" over and over. Me, the expert on baby essentials - a product of the 50s before even the most basic car seat had been invented. While this seems ludicrous and dangerous now (because it was), most homes only had one car that Dad drove to work. When Mom was home with the kids, Mom was home with the kids. On those rare occasions when she did finally get to go out she made sure to leave her offspring at home with their father, and while he stood at his workbench in the garage organizing screws and washers into baby food jars, his kids kept busy by shoving things into outlets until they shocked themselves.
Things had changed drastically by the time my firstborn came along which, like me, amazed my mother. Disposable diapers? A box of wipes just for cleaning the baby after a diaper change? A listening device to put in the baby's room so you can hear her while in another room? What was this? The Jetsons?
In the work of bringing up baby things change fast, and I bet my daughter will feel whip-sawed by the available new breed of baby products in a few short years. Despite the pressure and heavy marketing, most of the extras - used for a few months over a few years - will be sold for pennies on the dollar at the neighborhood garage sale. Just as thrilling as it was to unpack the newest gadget to try out on baby, it is just as thrilling to unload it from the basement or garage.
And while all of those things make raising a baby easier the essentials are -
- A wildly optimistic sense of adventure and humor
- The ability to roll with the unpredictable
- A standing agreement with your spouse that being on time for anything ever again is a ridiculous endeavor
- The steadfast belief that you and your baby (even on your most challenging days) will grow alongside of each other in every way
Everything else ~ like wisdom ~ will get passed on.
Me: You need to take a long nap this afternoon because Grandma was up too late last night watching videos on YouTube.
Me: We'll nap together, bambino!
Me: Mabel, are you listening?
Me: Listen, kiddo, I promise you that your activity chair will still be there when we wake up from our, you know, nap.
Mabel: *big smile*
Me: Oh geez, Mae, let's skip the nap. That thing does look pretty fun so I'll just keep staring at you until your mom gets home and thank all the baby stars in the sky that I get to watch you grow.