In the Market for a Mother

My pace was slow as we approached the store. Partly because I’d just filled my belly and bladder and couldn’t walk without a hitch, but also because I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to crossing the threshold.

My mother and I were headed to the baby superstore. She had kindly offered to supply our new little one with bed linens, mattress pads, etc. It would be fun to pick at least the patterns on the sheets, and it made sense to come to such a store with a ridiculous variety of options; still, I hesitated – and not just when I realized the restrooms were in the far rear corner of the store. (Seriously, people? Preggos and newborns? Damn the marketing man.)

The fact that this store had such a ridiculous variety of options was part of the problem. If I’ve learned anything after three babies, it’s that simpler is usually better. The addition and care of a little person complicates life enough. Why does a parent need a proprietary gizmo for each and every function? They only suck up money and space.

baby-essentials-4-8-months-853x1024

Have you ever googled ‘baby gear image’?  Don’t.  (pearlsonastring.com)

One of the liberating aspects of this older, wiser, and unexpected pregnancy (ie gave away all our stuff) was that it would be bare bones. All that stuff I’d registered for and thought I needed and accumulated now was non sequitur. I could pick and choose what was truly needed to care for my baby. And really, that was not much of anything besides my hands and heart. (though, disposable diapers would be nice).

Especially after the rough ride with #3, I was looking forward to a pared down experience focused on the mother-child bond rather than the circus that can sometimes surround newborns and new motherhood.

So after my mother graciously offered to walk back to the front of the store to acquire a shopping cart, she found me staring glassy-eyed at the crib sheet display.

You’re overwhelmed, aren’t you?” she asked.

More than anything, I felt like I was in an alternate universe, never having expected to find myself in this aisle again. It had been years. I felt older. A little self-righteous in a been there-done that sort of way. Appalled – and again older – to see how much the prices had gone up since I’d last bought this stuff. Amused by the upper tier options people who didn’t have any frame of reference would actually spring for.

After choosing a good foundation of necessities, we wandered into other departments, which was probably a mistake. Bedding I could do. The child couldn’t sleep itself into a sweaty, sticky mess on a bare mattress. But cradles, and cups and spoons, and bottles, and little padded strap cushions. Mom and I decided to get a few nursing supplies since I’d need those right off and call it a day.

Don’t get me wrong, Mom and I swooned when we saw the adorable itty bitty sheep on a crib sheet. I picked up a little fox and she nearly hugged a fuzzy penguin. Humans love fresh starts, soft little fingers and toes, and the fragility of life we often forget otherwise.

But I feel like the culture of modern motherhood and merchandising drowns all that. Sure, it shines through in a precious petite bodysuit. But the rows of cribs, reclining chairs, canvas art work, and countless accessories? No mother needs all that. If she wants it, fine. But I think the first insidious brainwashing of the perfect mother myth is that she must have it. The material, the physical accoutrements must be perfectly laid for her to perfectly welcome and care for her baby.

For those times when the maternal bond is muddled, all that material just masks the root problem – and ultimate solution – further.

It’s time to get back to basics.

I picture myself holding my baby, swaddling her* close, and facing the world together – without the marketing man anywhere in sight.

 

*And no, this is not a veiled announcement of the sex of our child; female pronouns just roll off the tongue after three girls

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4 Comments

  1. I can relate as far as the marketing goes. When my grand-daughter was pregnant, (yes, I’m THAT old), and I was cruising her baby shower registry, I couldn’t believe all the gadgets and gizmos that are in the baby world now. My youngest is 35, so obviously the options have changed quite a bit in that time. It was head-shaking unbelievable. 🙂

    Also with you on that “bathrooms at the very back corner of the store”. When I was caring for my mother during her last years, I learned where all the easily accessible restrooms were all over town. Especially when you needed extra space in the stall for a walker or a wheelchair. But it was frustrating, again and again, to have to trudge all the way through the store, to get her to the bathroom. Ultimately I ended up finding a drugstore chain that had large and easily accessible restrooms, and knew where just about every store was in our general neighborhood. LOL

    It must be somewhat odd to be envisioning going down this path again. Our brains have moved on, and our life has continued to ratchet forward, and suddenly there you are, going back to a time that was many chapters before. Only this time, as you said yourself, you will carry with you the knowledge gained along the way. Experience is one of the best things to have in your shopping cart to help you prepare for the new baby. But cute sheets don’t hurt. Maybe even one of those adorable stuffed animals. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  April 28, 2016

      First, ‘old’ is a relative term 😉

      Second, there is nothing like a well-placed bathroom 🙂

      Third, thank you so much for your lovely words of encouragement – including cute sheets and animals! It truly warms my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. I love this writing.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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