Been around the block

So as Baby 2 looms large in our thoughts for the next few weeks, I’ve been taking stock of our old baby gear, and deciding what needs an upgrade and what we missed the first time. Here are a few things I learned after doing the minimalist, all-you-need-are-cloth-diapers-and-boobs route with Peanut.

Keep in mind, this is not a complete list, and is only what I have learned from obsessing over every piece of advice I’ve been given over the past five years. Your results may vary.

A baby will grow up to resent you if you don’t have a wipes warmer.
Hand-me-down clothes probably pose a choking hazard. Probably.
If you get wooden, Waldorf toys, your child will go through a really nasty, anti-social period somewhere between ages 2 and 45.
If you have plastic, battery-powered toys, your baby will never learn anything. Ever.
People you don’t know will make sure to tell you how terrible it is to have your child in a stroller, so get a sling.
Strangers will approach you just to criticize your parenting if you wear your child in a sling, so buy a stroller.
Your child will never develop proper self esteem if you don’t have a book custom printed with their name as the title character.
Babies who don’t have a swing and a bouncy seat and a crib music box will cry and cry and cry the first three months.
People in the supermarket will look at you as though you have seven heads if you don’t have a ruffled car seat cover for your child.
People in the supermarket will look at you as though you have eight heads if you do.
Get shoes on your baby immediately after birth, or your child will never learn to walk.
You must teach your child at least one foreign language before it turns one, or you can forget about college.
You will regret, for the rest of your life, not having a pacifier leash.
Your child will be emotionally damaged, forever, if you use a pacifier.
The more expensive the stroller is, the better it is.
If you eschew bibs and just wash the baby’s dirty clothes, the Department of Child Protective Services will come calling.
If you don’t get a video baby monitor, you must not love your child.
You are cheating your child if you do not use the right baby soap, lotion, and shampoo. Every day. Because babies are *that* dirty.
Your baby will eventually need therapy if its sheets don’t match the comforter that you have to keep folded in the closet because comforters are a SIDS risk.
You child will never make friends if you make your own baby food.
You child will reach puberty at age 6 if you use store-bought baby food.
Doesn’t matter what approach you use to potty learning. Without a singing toilet, no child ever gets out of diapers.

This list, by the way, has been brought to you by the number 2, the letter Y, and the American Council on You Name the Life Event and I’ll Show You the Obscenely Long Shopping List of Must-Haves.

(Seriously, if you post a comment that all babies need is a safe place to sleep either with a sober grownup or by themselves; something to wear; a pair of functioning breasts or some non-melamine replacement; and a loving family, I will hunt you down and force-feed you rancid hemp protein. Mostly because we tried that stuff once and now just let it take up space in the guilt cupboard of healthy-food-that-tastes-nasty. Yeesh, it’s gross.)

23 thoughts on “Been around the block

  1. You forgot to mention how important it is to carry a meat tenderizer in your free hand with a little note dangling from the handle that reads: “Thank You For Your Opinion.”

  2. If your child isn’t exposed to germs and pets, they will grow up allergic to everything and will need to be housed in a sterile bubble. If your child is exposed to germs and pets, they will become allergic to everything and will need to be housed in a sterile bubble, eventually.

  3. If you do not put your child in front of Baby Mozart for 30 minutes a day, he will never develop that other half of his brain…the side that understands math.

    If you put your child in front of Baby Mozart for 30 minutes a day, his entire brain will get eaten.

  4. I love it the second time around……everything is so much clearer….sort of ;)

    I will say this, I loved my Moby wrap this time around and kicked myself for not having one/ nobody recomending one for my oldest who I swear was borderline colic.

    Good luck in these next few weeks.

  5. I am laughing out loud this morning. Oh my gads the crap the general public puts us through! The other day I was at my parents Country Club for the Christmas Party. Two out of three of us (me and my three yr old twins) had mohawks. I was having a gay old time getting the kids to go potty without soiling their outfits when this one eyed ole lady says to me “how many children do you have in this family?!” I said “just the two” and she said “Well, it sounds like 12. I would not have allowed that.” I said ‘Merry Christmas’. Let me tell you something….my kids were being PERFECT in that bathroom. They washed hands, they sat quietly while I went pee, they didn’t spread the free lotion or mouthwash all over the f’ing place. I guess they aren’t supposed to talk while farting and peeing.

    thats all. sorry to rant on your wonderful page. I love your funny post and wonder at how we can all have so much in common! Neat.

  6. I was giggling and stressing out at the same time while reading this. Completely forgot about all the contrary advice out there…wait, probably not forgot. Probably repressed. Arrrgh! But I think we can glean a few things:

    1. People need to stop telling moms what to do.
    2. No one really knows anything for certain.
    3. It’s important to come up with a strategy for letting it all roll off the maternal back somehow. Because otherwise, it’s crazymaking.


  7. Oh, Jesus. Reading this post has reminded me of why I have been so damned frustrated at various points (and will continue to be) throughout my maiden voyage into parenting. Because God forbid reality should not comport with your parenting “philosophy.”

    We let the Critter was some Baby Einstein at his grandparents’ house the other day (because the alternative would have been to insult his grandparents and aunt, which seemed ill-advised at the time) and since then he has completely developmentally regressed, and has regrown his fetal tail. (All kidding aside, the video seemed pretty anodyne, but I cannot believe anyone could possibly watch one and think it was doing anything intellectually stimulating for their child.)

  8. We can’t win either way, and we won’t know if we’ve succeeded or failed for many years. I’d love to know if our grandparents ever doubted themselves the way we do.

  9. Let’s not forget that you have to put your child in some sort of educational, music, gymnastic, dance, or sport class or else the child will never socialize. Do this as soon as possible at the most expensive place you can find.

  10. I think I love Dan Summers. Any dude who uses the phrase “has regrown his fetal tail” is a keeper in my book.

    And BloginSong–I know that country club! And small kids+old grumpy asses=nothing good. I’m sure C and M were being terrific. Grrrr.

  11. This post had me snorting and laughing the whole time. I wish I had a dollar for all the random advice I’ve been given from complete strangers…starting with…”I think your baby is uncomfortable in that baby carrier and should probably be at home sleeping in a crib like other normal babies. ” Runner up number 2: “Did you know that babies over the age of a year no longer need breast milk and actually need cows milk to grow properly?”

    I am always delighted to learn that my human infant has indeed turned into a baby cow upon reaching the tender age of 12 months.

    My favorite in your post: You child will never make friends if you make your own baby food.
    You child will reach puberty at age 6 if you use store-bought baby food.

    Killing me. Good times–parenthood style.

  12. Okay, seriously, this post was more fun than I’ve had in a while. Glad you all had similar experiences and tolerated my bad attitude.
    There are two things I give to every pregnant woman: a Moby and a copy of Sears’s The Baby Book. The book let me stop reading books and trust your own gut, and the Moby leaves both hands free to carry the meat tenderizer. Am I right, ck?
    jc, you didn’t let the kids near pets, right? Good. Because if you did they might get some harm or benefit from that experience.
    TKW excellent point AND emulation of the overall tone. Bonus points, brainsy friend.
    Jen, if only I’d known you then. You would have had a Moby the first time.
    bloginsong, I ADORE the people who tell me “I would never have tolerated that.” I always wonder if Barbara Bush says things like that in country club bathrooms about her model children.
    Ink, the only way to make sure it rolls off your back is to *know* you’re way is best and to judge everyone who doesn’t agree. (No, that doesn’t perpetuate the whole thing. No it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t.)
    Dan, sorry you gave in to peer pressure to do something totally harmless to just spare the feelings of people you love. What the hell kind of parent are you?
    (Kitch, I just told someone who was on the fence about moving to Maine that they *had* to just so their kids could have Dan as their pediatrician.)
    kq, of course they didn’t doubt themselves—have you heard them give advice lately? They’re pretty sure they’re right. ;-)
    oh, heavens, faemom, you’re right…I have to go do that right now before it’s too late!
    Naomi, I’m glad that you’ve finally learned that your heifer needs to sleep in a crib. Who the hell lets their child sleep nestled against them and who the double hell would feed a person milk made for them? Geez. Thank goodness they set you straight. (btw, when I moved to Berkeley, people were rather horrified I weaned at 2 years because that was too early. They almost forgave me when they learned he weaned himself. But not really. I still hear whispers.) Same tone, different dogma, know what I’m saying?

  13. Awesome post! And as they get older, it’s not about the “stuff” (well, sort of), but what you have enrolled them in. Japanese on Saturday mornings? Spanish AND Chinese on Sunday? Don’t forget about hockey and gymnastics and dance. Oh, and for when you do have a minute, sign them up for open gym. Yes, that makes your child SO much better than mine.

    Makes me gag.

    (I swear, I just overheard this conversation between two moms today. Their kids really do take 3 different languages on the weekend.)

  14. Love this post as it’s so very, very true. And I love what you said about the sling vs. stroller. I have two children that are 10 months apart in age. As I couldn’t “sling” them both at the same time they had to take turns. I even got criticized for that. It’s never enough, eh?

    • Gibby, my child is in *four* language classes. Standard American English as spoken by an English professor. Colloquial American English as spoken by many of the people in his family. Toddler American English as spoken by the indecipherable goofballs at school. And Profane American English as spoken by his parents, damnit.
      Jane, clearly you’re a terrible parent for taking both of your children somewhere together. And for having a second child so close to the first. AND for waiting so long to have your second. AND for ice cream and whiskey you know you bought together with one in the stroller and one in the sling.
      Inky, doll, you know how I loves me some judgmental time. It’s up there with quiet time and shower time.

  15. I would like to add a special addendum to the list: always, always, inquire of a new mom whether or not the baby’s sleeping through the night. Don’t give up if she says “no” the first time…keep asking every couple of weeks. Also, if the answer is “no,” be sure to offer lots of suggestions (without asking how she feels about what she’s currently doing) so that she knows that it’s her fault that she’s so sleep-deprived.

    Extra bonus points if you can work in a story about how your/your sister’s/your neighbor’s baby was sleeping through the night at six days old.

    • Okay, Falling. That one made me cry. Nothing, but nothing, made me lose it more than the people who asked if my baby was “good,’ by which they meant was he sleeping. And yes, he slept. At least two hours at a time, unless he was teething. He slept through the night when he was 3.5 and still wakes up a lot with nightmares. I actuallyhad a friend, a good friend, who told me it was my parenting and that children wound as tightly as my son should sleep because it’s “bullshit” that some kids just don’t sleep well until they’re preschool age.
      My other friend, whose daughter is one day older than my son, had the same issues, and she found in her research that other cultures don’t expect kids to sleep until age 3 or 4. Our culture proclaims them broken if they don’t sleep until 3 or 4 months. I’m moving to wherever people stop asking about sleep.
      Of course, I do, all the time, so I can empathize with people who experience years-long sleep deprivation and emotional turmoil.
      That’s it. I’m writing a post about that. Again. Poor mamas.

  16. Thank you, Naptime. This is the thing that I struggle with so much: balancing my instincts against my fears (which are, of course, heavily influenced by the well-meaning-but-devastating inquiries and expectations). My standard answer now when people try to share sleep advice is, “We’ve tried everything we’re willing to try.”

    If you haven’t already, check out Our Babies, Ourselves (curse you, missing italics!) by Meredith Small. It’s a great reminder that many of our expectations for eating, sleeping, etc. come from cultural assumptions, not biological processes.

    I’d love to read what you have to say about this. I’m working my way slowly through your archives, and quoted you recently over at my place. I love that you acknowledge the ambivalence that some of us find inherent in attachment parenting.

    • Thanks for the heartfelt reply, Falling. I actually started this blog because I had just read The Mask of Motherhood by Susan Maushart and wanted somewhere to discuss the polarizing emotional toll of loving a person but hating the job that commes with loving them.
      I will check out Small’s book. The sleep thing so terrorized our family, honestly, that I’m scared about what the second baby will do to us. I barely made it, and I’m not too pleased with the prospect of interrupting the rhythms we’ve established so I can slowly fall apart again. But, that’s my job. And at least what I’ve learned is the trite aphorism that other parents told me…this really is just a phase. And the next one is different and worse.
      I’ll post about sleep soon. All I know is: there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used, classified, and decried as torture. Genuine torture. As in breaks people down and makes them desperate kind of torture. And it’s hard to know someone you love desperately does that to you.

  17. Nap,

    Miss D. also did not sleep through the night until age 3. It was the Reign of Terror. Just fucking unbelievable.

    Hazelnut might not be a great sleeper, but I think s/he will be better than P. Miss M. was a brilliant sleeper…until she turned 3. WTF? Pass the espresso.

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