Baby Item Reviews - Do I Need This More Than I Need a New Pair of Shoes?

A few weeks ago, my friend Ann Douglas asked me to provide a little bit of feedback for an article that she was writing, on some new and interesting baby products and whether or not parents (and the world in general) needed such things. I happily complied, and while Ann’s article turned out wonderfully, it did have one flaw – not enough of me.
Because I am not relegated to a strict word count or any journalistic integrity, I decided to give you the benefit of my (non-truncated) opinion.  So without further ado, and just in time for the holiday season, I give you:
Baby Item Reviews: Do I Need This More Than I Need a New Pair of Shoes?
My first reaction to the Baby Bed Blocks was, ‘I don’t get it. Why am I turning my baby’s bed into a ski hill?’ Then I read the description, and although I would never bother, I suppose for $19 it might buy some peace of mind if my child is stuffed up.  Then again, I have a pile of magazines that I don’t have time to read that would work just as well as a bed-lift, and I’d get to de-clutter at the same time.

Am I being punked? No, seriously, you want me to dangle my baby from the wall of a public bathroom stall, hoping the person in the next stall doesn’t unhook my baby from their side?  You want me to pay $39.99 for the bathroom dangler and it doesn’t even double as a baby carrier? I’ll have to find some additional use for it – I suppose I could use it to dangle my baby from other doors. Perhaps I’ll dangle my baby from my closet door each morning, so that I can coordinate my outfit with hers.

babykick kickTrak
Even if I wasn’t offended by the babykick kickTrak’s creative use of spelling and capitalization, I would give this item a pass. Pregnancy is a wonderful, beautiful, nerve-wracking time.  We keep track of, obsess over and research every little aspect of what our body and our baby are going through. I just don’t think that an expectant mother needs to rely on this gizmo to record the minutiae of her pregnancy. That’s what blogging is for.

Where to begin…  Ok, in theory, I could see how something like this might appeal to the same kind of mother that buys a baby-wipe heater (i.e. a first-time mother). We do worry about our baby’s skin, and diaper rash sucks for everybody. BUT (BUTT?) – fanning your baby’s tukhas dry seems a) time-consuming b) contrary to the good health claim once ‘essence’ of lavender is added,  and c) cold. Just use a towel and stop giving manufacturers reason to believe that women are total chumps that will buy anything.

So save your money for the important things parents, like booze and a nanny.

Oh, and for the record? I have spent my fair share of money on items I thought I needed but then never used, including a rectal thermometer, a sleep sack, socks for newborns and two cribs.

Next week: Reviews of Items for Pets that Only Deranged, Wealthy Childless People Would Spend Money On 



Little Green Flags

There’s a little green flag sitting on my desk at work; one of those push-pin kinds of things. I’m supposed to write my initials on it and stick it on a map that’s affixed to a bulletin board. I’m supposed to stick it on the country of my heritage, and next week, I am supposed to prepare a dish for a potluck lunch, and that dish is supposed to represent the country under my little green flag.

And I don’t know where to stick my little green flag.

Well, you’re going to just stick the flag on Israel, right? Because you’re Jewish. Is what somebody said to me.

I’m Jewish, not Israeli, I replied.

And not everybody in Israel is Jewish. And the people around me were sticking all sorts of little flags on top of all sorts of countries. But I couldn’t find Jewish, so my flag is still sitting on my desk.

I guess my heritage is Jewish, because being Jewish accounts for a lot of the things I believe and the way I act in certain situations. But my Catholic friend is not looking for Catholic on a map, even though being Catholic accounts for a lot of the things she believes in, and the way she acts in certain situations.

If I was still in Israel and we were having a heritage potluck lunch, I would stick my flag on Canada and bring in maple fudge. But in Canada, I’m not called Canadian. I’m called Jewish.

I’ve also been called, You People, and I can’t find You People on the map either.
It must be next to Jewish.



Does This Motherhood Look Good On Me?

A few years ago, I wrote a story pitch to Mothering Magazine on how to stay connected to your child and continue attachment parenting when you work outside of the home. It was received positively, and I was encouraged to write and submit my piece. But I didn’t do it.

Within a month of my submission, I found out I was pregnant again. And then I had a miscarriage. And then I was pregnant again. And then my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And three years later, the piece still isn’t written.

A little while ago, I started thinking about it again, and about how my piece has changed since I first wrote the outline. The piece has changed because life has changed – I now have two children, not just one toddler; I have additional responsibilities outside of work hours and while my perspective and patience may have increased, the hours I have in a day certainly haven’t.

I thought I could write a piece on being a working attachment parent because I had one child, cared for at home by a nanny. My daughter’s days were simple and mainly dictated by a schedule that I had set in place, so staying involved and informed was not that difficult. I knew that the way we spent our hours together made up for the hours that we spent apart.

But now I have two children. One is in school and they are watched by a babysitter. We don’t have a nanny anymore, and the truth is, their days have little to do with a schedule that I have set for them. Staying on top of what happens during their day is macro-easy – I can ask the babysitter or the teacher how the day went and she will tell me, and if I have any concerns we will work them out. But on a micro level, I am often in the dark. My daughters now interact with many people during the day, and I miss out on the minutiae of their interactions. They have influences that range beyond their parents or nanny, and those influences spark ideas I am not always cool with. I am no longer their filter or their protector, in person or by proxy, during a large portion of the day.

And then I was reading a piece on Mothering.com yesterday, and I felt a little betrayed. And I felt like a fraud. How could I possibly be an attachment parent? How could I possibly be a nurturing parent? Yes, my children are vaccinated on a delayed schedule and almost always end up in my bed by morning. But for the first time, I felt like I could not possibly have a voice in that community. It was not a specific article that left me feeling hollow, just a sad realization all of a sudden, like, I don’t belong here.

We feel things that like throughout the evolution of our parenthood. We lose our place in the parenting continuum constantly, but it is always replaced by a spot, a belonging, elsewhere. Our infants gradually become toddlers; we trade commiseration over breastfeeding and cribs and diapers for commiseration over cooking and big girl beds and toilet training; our children enter school and we trade strollers for scooters. Every step of the way in parenting is an exchange of experiences.

But it’s like I have just walked into a store carrying a philosophy, the posted rules of which no longer feel comfortable; no longer fit and in fact, are beginning to cut off my circulation. And I can look around; I can scan the racks and the shelves and I can peer at the things that the other customers are putting on, but there doesn’t seem to be anything here for me.

I thought this was my favourite store, but this season, nothing here looks good on me. I’m getting the message that I should no longer be here. I’m beginning to feel bad here. I’m going to stop looking for things that suit me here.

Things change.

I no longer have only one child and control over her hours, just like I no longer have a nanny and I no longer spend money on diapers. Things change. Life changes.

I have two children now; two funny, happy, beautiful children. They still spend most of their day together, and they still want to sit on my lap at night while I read them stories and they still want to squish into bed with us and sleep with their tiny arms around my neck. And I still make the choices I do with them first and foremost in my mind, and I hope that they know that now and will understand it later and be kind to me in their teenage years.

I might not be the kind of mother I had hoped I was. I might not be the kind of mother I used to think I was. But I’m not worried that motherhood doesn’t look good on me; I’m just kind of sad that the store I used to shop in doesn’t seem to have anything that fits anymore.

So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m learning how to sew.