I’ve never really been one for shopping, but after I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I started looking forward to all the impending trips to the malls and department stores. What fun hubby and I would have browsing for crib bedding and tiny little clothes.
The big yellow book
I bought myself a big yellow book to guide me through the process. It described all the products we would need to make our home fit for baby’s arrival, beginning with the array of options available for diapering and moving without pause through the cradles, car seats, strollers, high chairs, change tables, bottles, bottle warmers; things for swinging, toting, bouncing, cleaning, and rocking baby; things that would sing to baby and flash lights at him; things for him to cuddle and climb on and chew; things to help his brain grow.
Fortunately my husband and I were working with a limited budget. Otherwise I might have been swept away in the madness and brought home coordinating maple nursery furniture and a portable video monitoring system.
Not that we completely escaped the buying frenzy. Our stupidest move was the “odor-free” diaper pail, purchased one impulsive afternoon at the Wal-Mart. We tolerated it for a month before admitting we’d been duped; nothing loaded up with dirty diapers could smell halfway decent. Out into the garage it went, never to be seen again.
I also wasted a few bucks on some of those extra-thick “deluxe” baby wipes and premium disposable diapers. I came to my senses as soon as I realized just how many extra-thick wipes and premium diapers a kid can go through in a day.
The perilous, high-fashion world of infancy
I did feel kind of guilty, the slightest bit neglectful, as I filled our son’s dresser with used baby clothes and scrubbed the hardened mystery goo off his second-hand activity center. The world was so perilous, germ-ridden and cutthroat. It would be my responsibility to get him through it sane and healthy.
And sane and healthy were only the first steps. By the looks of all the designer outfits and high-tech toys cramming store shelves, it was also my job to ensure my baby grew up as fashionable and academically advanced as possible. I guess that’s what those baby product manufacturers count on—our parental desire, nudged along by emotions like guilt and anxiety, to give our children as many advantages as we can.
All things—even guilt—shall pass
Then again, my son sailed through babyhood not even noticing he was sleeping on mismatched sheets and wearing secondhand sleepers. I no longer feel bad about not buying him a single piece of clothing from The Gap.
Though I admit I was happy, gleeful even, the day Grandma brought over the UltraSaucer (not the bare-bones ExerSaucer, or the more-adorned MegaSaucer, but the super-festooned UltraSaucer).
The things my son wanted most, that really made our home fit for his arrival, were the things we couldn’t have bought anyway. His favorite toys, transportation devices, pieces of furniture, and educational tools were, and still are, Mommy and Daddy. I’ve long since forgotten where I put that big yellow book.