I was never a person who played with dolls and dreamed of having children. I had a headless Barbie who dated the family dog (there was no Ken, you see) - she didn’t have time for children (or the right species to procreate with, frankly). I never went gaga over other people’s children, and have only recently admitted that yes, they’re cute, but let’s talk about something else – perhaps the latest episode of True Blood? I don’t think kids always say the darndest things, and their watchful, curious eyes sometimes just creep me out (future “mother of the year” here!). Moms hold their babies on the train with the babies facing behind and their offspring proceed to stare, stick their tongue out, or make faces the whole time. Since I am usually 15x their age you’d think I wouldn’t find this unnerving, but I always walk off the train unhinged. Like I said, I’m not what you’d call a kid person.
But something strange has been happening recently. About a month ago Matt and I spent a quick beach weekend in Virginia and saw a dad helping his toddler build a sand castle, misshapen and perfect in that charmingly imperfect way. And then a mom was playing with her baby girl in the surf, foamy waves ebbing and flowing with their laughter. And with my sunglasses on and my palm pressing against Matt’s, I finally felt free to cry out of happiness. The same thing happened this weekend, but this time in a quiet hamlet amidst the
Jersey shore: watching 4th of July fireworks from an upstairs balcony I turned to Matt and said we’ll have a 7-month-old at this time next year. He squeezed my hand and we both remarked how far we’ve come as purple and gold sparks danced above the shoreline.
Matt and I have been closer because, well, we’re having a child together, but also because we’re both completely out of her element in having this child together. (I suppose nothing brings two people together more than shared fear.) After work we sit on our couch, a laptop on each of our laps, each monitor glowing with lightweight strollers and convertible car seats and anything else a baby may – or may not - need. We send one another links of possible products, email each other what this or that co-worker recommended, and invariably say we give up after the back-and-forth but begin the next day. “Babies are like a whole other species,” Matt said, fretfully staring at the list of things that need to be bought.
Between the two of us childless dodos, we know basically…nothing. We don’t know what children wear, what their cries mean, how exactly this breastfeeding thing works (well, that’s more me) and have you seen all the car seats and strollers on the market?!?! Last night, in total exasperation, I told Matt he was in charge of “baby transportation”, meaning he was to choose our car seats and strollers. (Notice the plural.) I gave him this task out of total dumbfoundedness but put it under the guise of “more parental involvement”. I don’t think he was fooled.
There are hundreds of car seats and strollers on the market. There are infant car seats and convertible car seats. There are strollers where you can snap an infant car seat in to form a makeshift stroller. There are lightweight strollers, traveling system strollers, all terrain strollers, jogging strollers, umbrella strollers, and dog strollers (the last one we mistakenly stumbled upon during a Google search). We want a hardy stroller for the trails in
Valley Forge but half of those won’t fit into our compact car trunks. Every stroller has half good reviews, and the other half poo-poo the item, making us scratch our heads and Google some more. There are $500 strollers that often have uniformly good reviews, but you know, that’s a $500 stroller! I’d like to say we’re more “reasonable” than “cheap”. And then what about baby-wearing? Do we purchase a wrap, the $15 Target carrier that causes backache, the ubiquitous BabyBjorn at $90 a pop, or god forbid, an eye-popping $150 for the organic Ergo Baby (you see, Ergo Baby is the only carrier on the market that puts the baby’s weight on both your shoulders and hips so you can carry baby in comfort AND style). Gag me.
Then there’s cribs (how many people have told me I have to get a GOOD crib and don’t I dare order one online?!) and gliders. Diaper Genies and swings. Pack ‘n’ Plays and don’t think of getting bumpers for your crib because they cause SIDS! So, I give up. I throw my hands up in the air to the baby gods. So, here’s the deal: I will pay someone to shift through all this nonsense that preys on helpless and clueless soon-to-be-parents (e.g. Matt and me) and choose the pick of the litter (you know, of the cheaper stuff). Since I’m spending the better part of our salaries on baby accouterments, you’ll have to take the assignment pro bono. Think of it as helping the needy. And clueless. And, excuse the language, the scared shitless.