Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lumbering Toward the Parenting Tar Pit

If you are like me and you are sliding into home on this mom gig then you may not know how much babies and the accoutrement (Isn't that a fancy word? It means necessary junk) that surrounds them have advanced. Compared to the modern parenting that I see going on, my children were strapped to me with animal skins while I fed them raw meat in a cave.

They'll be more than happy to tell you they were raised by wolves. They are hilarious that way. 

My kids had car seats that no one would put the dog in now, cribs, bottles, pacifiers, and one very noisy crank up swing. My son fared a little better than my daughter since he arrived 6 years later. He had a jumpy thing that hung from a door frame and a baby monitor.  We call that progress.

After your own bout with babydom you tend to lose touch. You move on from analyzing the contents of diapers and start wondering about even more important things like-- if that breakfast cereal is so packed full of vitamins, can you just feed it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? That is a natural question when you stare down the next 18 years of meal planning.

I began to notice my first infant disconnect at the grocery store. Young mothers with babies and toddlers shlepped along brightly colored covers for the grocery cart seat. Consumer Reports actually ranks these. I'll admit that I was fascinated. And instantly filled with guilt. What germs had my children been exposed to while riding in hundreds of germ infested grocery carts and chewing on the handles?

I casually noticed other mysteries of parenting from time to time but not enough to ask "What IS that?" to complete strangers. Then a few months ago I worked in the church nursery to fill in for my daughter while she was out of town.

It was a baby Twilight Zone.

Chic mothers arrived with Baby Gap clad bundles of innocence and dropped off collections of mysterious accessories.  It took about 4 baby drops before I realized that the mommies weren't leaving their stylish purses behind but that the new diaper bag is disguised as something a woman would actually want to be seen carrying. Black leather. Leopard print. Designer logos. I wanted to smack myself for being conned into carrying a pastel monstrosity with a duck on it that clashed with every outfit I'd ever worn as a new mother. Though, as my daughter likes to point out "It was the 80s, Mom; I doubt anyone noticed."

Well, now isn't that the real reason we have children--to keep our self esteem in check?

Babies don't seem to have changed all that much. They still delight in playing "Hey, guess what's wrong with me now!" Which means that one must delve into those designer bags to find a collection of mysterious items whose use I could only guess at. Baby bottles now look like something designed by NASA complete with a propeller that goes inside the bottle to mix the formula, and pacifiers have clearly been designed by someone who watched one too many episodes of Star Trek.

"Beam me up, Scotty. You can locate me by the GPS in my stroller."

(I made that up trying to be funny but thought I'd google it just to see if it is on the horizon. Well apparently we breached the horizon some time ago and you can have stroller GPS for around $249.00)

I'm lumbering toward the tar pit as you read this.

I got my phone out to check the time. The babies gave each other nervous looks. A room full of infants who were posting to Facebook from the womb lacked confidence in a smartphoneless adult. They began to whimper for their hyper-connected techno moms.

The thing I had the most trouble with was the swing. There wasn't a crank.  I thought maybe it was broken until I noticed the switches, buttons, and lights. Who designed this? One of the few joys of sleep deprived, unwashed mothers everywhere use to be that startled baby face you got when you cranked that swing up. This new stealthily silent gadget made me nervous. Was there a baby swing simulator someplace I was supposed to have trained on before stepping into this nursery bound cockpit?  I put a baby in, fastened the buckles designed to see the kid through take off and into orbit, safely. I pushed a series of buttons. I tried another set. Finally a third sequence. No swinging. No music. No birds singing.

I did get one very confused looking baby.

I undid the buckles and straps and retreated to a creaking rocking chair in the corner. Within a few moments the little tyke was asleep and the remaining babies eyed me with, if not approval or confidence, then at least the respect reserved for dinosaurs. I'm guessing a rocking chair was the last piece of baby equipment that didn't come with a manual. 




  1. Now that we're in the grandparent stage and our 4 grandchildren are all under 12 ... and their mother is a Dr. of Psychology my wife and I clearly believe its a miracle either of our sons survived childhood since we knew nothing then and still don't about parenting.... :)

    1. Oh Troutbirder! Common sense is under rated these days, don't you think? :)My kids grew up to be happy well adjusted and kind. It turned out okay even though I didn't have a clue! Thanks for reading!