There it is in your mailbox. Yet another baby shower invitation. If you are anything like me this shower business is a love-hate relationship. I have always been one to enjoy a good party, especially an afternoon one with just the ladies. Those heavenly hors d’oeurves rank as my favorite food group. If only the FDA agreed, as I do, that they are worthy of such a listing. But great food and great chats only carry me so far. It seems sometime during the gift presentation to the mommy-to-be that I enjoy myself a little less. It was not so long ago, at least I tell myself, that I was the recipient of a shower held in my honor. Yes, I recall being happily besieged with the latest and greatest in baby gear. Within the span of a day I had accumulated an instant stockpile of all my registry wishes from my travel system in the Cambridge color to my high-tech, ultra-mod Sony monitor.
Fast-forward four years later and my stockpile seems just a bit dated. My once high-tech thirteen channel Sony sound monitor has been replaced by the new video-screen monitors. Gone are the misty green and muted blue color motifs popular during my first pregnancy. Now “In” are the mochas, cappuccinos and every other coffee concoctions one can imagine.
At the last shower I attended, the mom received an Exergen Temporal Scanner Artery Thermometer. Try saying that three times. This handy pediatrician-recommended device accurately measures your child’s temperature with just a gentle scan across their forehead. And so I ask, where was this wonderful contraption, previously unbeknownst to me, three months ago when I needed to awaken my two year old from a sound slumber just to make sure his fever had dropped.
And yet, it is not merely the parade of shower gifts that have managed to ruffle me. The countless children catalogues, the endless promotional e-mails, even the play date dialogues bombard my mind and create an internal list of must-haves and must-dos. Pottery Barn Kids, Company Kids, Hanna Anderson, Mini Boden, One Step Ahead, Leaps and Bounds (shall I go on?) - at least half a dozen of these publications arrive to greet me weekly. If I was a smart, efficient woman I would throw these catalogs directly into the trash. But alas, there they sit on my counter calling me as I have my morning cup of tea. I peruse page after page, noting the madras shorts that would look adorable on my older son or the bath tub guard that helps prevent slips. I mean for safety‘s sake, I should have one of those, right?
The promotional e-mails are just as troublesome for me. So-called friends convinced me to submit my e-mail to the various children’s stores in order to be up to date on all the great discounts. Oh, because “certain sizes go quick and you want to beat the rush.” I am now inundated with advertisements extolling exclusive semi-annual sales; semi-annual translating to thrice-quarterly. In fact, I am not sure when these stores are not having a major sale. Even Disney, wonderful wholesome Disney has long-since joined in this get-it-before-its-gone mentality. Their calculated and very profitable strategy of releasing Disney movie classics from “the Vault” for abbreviated periods of time has led to somewhat of a frenzy with each release. When I unsuccessfully tried to purchase one of these just-released-from-the-vault classics some time ago, the clerk informed me it would have been wise to preorder.
There are also, of course, the play date discussions. Whenever I embark on one of these mommy hood rites of passage I return with a notepad full of scribbled recommendations. As our children engage in their toddler parallel play, ice-breakers with the moms always involve the diaper bag. Yes, shameful as it is, the diaper bag has become somewhat of a status symbol for us moms. No longer equipped with our cherished, but now impractical, Coach purses our eyes fall squarely on the objects now affixed to our shoulders.
When gifted with a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag on the birth of my first son, I had no idea as to its popularity nor its price. I simply liked its chic design. It was small enough not to scream diaper bag but large enough to hold all my baby packing essentials. However, I was soon schooled on the diaper bag lingo. Petunia Pickle Bottom was and probably remains the “It” bag. Moms in the know, as I was told, were special-ordering these trendy baby accessories the minute their pregnancy test indicated positive. Now, I’m all for trying to look a little fashionable as we tote along our wee one, but really? A bag that we use to store wipes, leaking bottles, Cheerio crumbs and other sordid unmentionables was being special ordered!
Yes, I do believe we have gone too far.
What is it that drives us moms to, in essence, compete or to keep up with one another? I suppose our true intentions are noble in that we simply want the best for these little beings we have created. We all want our children to experience life with fullness and without difficulty. In doing so, we try to obtain all the benefits that may be readily available. But somewhere along the line our intentions get skewed. Quite an easy detour in this “gotta have it”, instant gratification era. OK, a little indulgence every now and again isn’t always hurtful especially when it aids in the overwhelming day-to-day tasks of parenting. (Yes I ordered the Exergen Temporal Scanner Artery Thermometer). Yet it seems clear that our kids do not need the latest toddler clothing line or the hippest toys to experience a rich childhood. Rather they need the full, undivided, on-the-floor face time with their parents. Thankfully and for my own sanity, I came to this deduction some time ago.
One late summer afternoon following an outdoor dinner, my two little barefoot and bare-chested boys chased me all over our yard for close to an hour. Afterwards, my husband and I watched them as they cooled off with their Popsicle treats. Their sheer delight and complete cuteness could not have been more evident. There they sat in their washed-worn jean shorts, popsicles melting, still panting from their romp with mom - utter happiness.
So instead of keeping up with Mommy Jones, I plan on just keeping up with my boys before they're able to outrun me.
Look for Aileen Solana’s next article, Organic Broccoli with a Little Cheez Whiz Please. Aileen will discuss her dive into this organic nation while not forgetting those necessary childhood indulgences every once in awhile.
I would love to hear from any mamas and papas out there and their own hiccups in this wonderful world we call parenthood. You can post your comment below.