Last week I received this text from a friend.
It’s all I’ve been doing lately. I mean between the Parenting magazine I got delivered for a cent an issue because I bought maternity leggings at a pregnant lady store, the daily reminders from Babybumb.com (notarealwebsite) or whatever that I am now at 25 weeks and should be thinking about painting a nursery or taking another picture of my growing belly or deciding what kind of nursing bra I should wear and, of course, all the time I’ve spent on Amazon.com searching for the safest/cheapest/best/most stylish diapers/cribs/blankets/socks/onsies/carseats/strollers I am fully convinced that
A. Almost everything that I buy is either going to make my baby’s head flat
2. There is no one product anyone can agree on when it comes to keeping a baby completely safe, unless it is a full body helmet, which I haven’t come across yet in all my time spent on Amazon, but I’m sure it’s out there being invented by some nervous mother as I type…
III. I have no idea what I’m doing.
Yes, I have to say that all this access to information via the world wide web, talk radio and whatever morning news show I happen to catch is getting to me. I am at information overload and the only thing that’s keeping me sane is the actual human to human connections I have with moms who have done this before.
I tell you, their advice is way less scary and confusing. Because it’s mostly this: “You can’t plan for everything because it will all hit the fan and you are going to be just fine…as long as you have diapers…”
And so that’s where my head was when I wrote this column last week. It was swarming with product reviews and advice and a constant prayer up to the sky for a little guidance on raising a happy, healthy baby…
Because I screw a lot of things up. Most things actually. I’m impatient and I don’t pay attention because I am impatient and my mind is always wandering and I’m not like those moms who were just born knowing the right way to hold and bounce a baby or with a strong tolerance for boogers and snot.
Boogers and snot are like my one aversion and as far as I’ve learned so far babies come with an unending supply of boogers and snot…
Yes, I’m awkward and worried this won’t come so naturally…and that I will run out of diapers like I run out of toilet paper…unexpectedly and in the middle of nowhere…
So diapers. I should be focusing on diapers…
Coming Home: New baby’s happiness won’t depend on stuff.
by Jessie Veeder
I listen to a lot of talk radio. It drones through the speakers while I sit behind the wheel of my car on my way to town or to a show or to the grocery store and back.
If you need an opinion, you will find it out there on the airwaves. Tune your ears to the universe, to the World Wide Web, to the TV or radio and you’ve got an answer, hundreds of different answers, no matter what answer you want.
And today I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. Because it’s making me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
I mean, just because we’ve been planning on having children for seven years doesn’t mean we’ve spent seven years figuring out the safest car seat, the best all-terrain stroller with built-in cooled and heated cup holders, the baby swing that won’t flatten out her head and the best and most certain ways to ensure our child’s chance at becoming a millionaire so when she has a child of her own she can afford all of the stuff that apparently we need to raise a kid these days.
I’m spending half of my time frantic to know everything and the other half annoyed that everyone’s overthinking it.
I see a baby bathtub I like, read the online reviews and find out it’s not big enough, soft enough and doesn’t come with the Jetson-style auto baby scrubber that you need, therefore it’s crap and it will make your baby’s head flat (I’ve found that’s a running theme).
Didn’t my mom just wash me in the kitchen sink next to the noodle strainer?
I’m not the president or anything, but did I not live and thrive despite having a childhood void of a surveillance security system in my nursery?
When we get down to it, all this stuff is just a means to a common end result — to raise happy, healthy babies into happy, healthy adults.
And if I’m not mistaken, happy healthy adults existed back before they invented the wipe warmer or DVR.
Which brings me back to all that talk radio I’ve been listening to, because last week the word “happiness” was being discussed at length; how we lack it, how to achieve it, how to help our kids find it.
It was interesting timing because the day before my friend and I were visiting about how different it will be for us to raise our own children in a time when everything’s so structured. Your kid wants to play hockey? He better be on skates as soon as he learns to walk. She wants to dance? Buy her jazz shoes and schedule private weekend lessons. Because if they don’t start honing their skills early, they won’t be successful, and doesn’t success equal happiness?
The lady on the radio chimed in to answer that question. She said when she thinks of childhood happiness she thinks of playing in the backyard, having parents that laughed, listened and made her feel safe, and free time to lay back on the lawn and ask questions about the clouds.
While the two of us were thousands of miles and generations apart, it was one of the first relatable and reasonable things I’d heard on the airwaves in a while.
She didn’t mention one thing about the stuff we need or the plans we must make to get us there. I could have reached through the radio to hug her.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember my favorite book and the day I got my first 10-speed bike. I remember those things making me happy, but only because that book meant a bedtime story from my big sister, and that bike meant I could go have adventures with my best friend up the hill.
And I liked basketball and 4-H and most of the other structured experiences that helped grow me up, but I liked them sprinkled in with spontaneous water fights and mom’s lasagna at night.
You know what I don’t remember? The color of my crib bedding or if my mom used a fancy bottle steamer sanitizer thingy.
So I think I’ll buy a couple of cotton onesies, turn off the radio, take a walk and continue on this happiness quest.