As of tomorrow (Monday) Mama Bear will be 37 Weeks pregnant: three weeks out from our due date.
Whether you count a month as 30/31 days (e.g. March x – April x) or 4 weeks (28 days) — aka one lunar cycle — or the holding period between when rent checks are due, three weeks is clearly less than any of those things.
Which begs the question: are we ready?
The internet has no shortage of baby-preparation checklists (just in case you thought the wedding industry set the bar for anxiety-inducing ability to make you feel completely inadequate and unprepared). Luckily, we’re able to toss a number of suggested items off our list because we live in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment that just ain’t that big. So only the clearly necessary and important and most useful things make the cut (in theory … this still doesn’t explain how that adorable snowsuit for 6 mos made its way into our closet sometime around last March … but we’re allowed a few indulgences and extra things, especially the ones with fuzzy ears).
Unlike building a wedding registry, though, you have no idea whether the stuff you’re putting on your baby registry is actually the stuff you need or even want. Wedding registries are full of all that stuff that you’ve been wanting to get for years — like sets of plates and bowls that actually match, for example, or new pans that don’t add freshly grated teflon to your meals. When you get married, especially if you’ve been living together already, you usually have some practice in the whole living as an adult thing, so you have some sense of what stuff will enable you to do that with more function or style or fun.
With the first-time baby registry, though, you’ve got to rely on advice from friends and family, and on whatever limited experience you’ve had with other people’s newborns. Which means that you’re constantly second-guessing or feeling like you need to do more research to make sure what you’re getting is good, because you have so little direct experience with any of it.
Mama Bear and I were watching Aziz Ansari’s MSG special on Netflix last night. There’s a bit where he’s talking, essentially, about the paradox of choice and how we immediately do Google research for even the most inane of purchases. We gotta make sure that we get THE BEST of whatever thing it is that we’re getting. And Mama Bear said “oh my god, I just did that with baby towels this afternoon — for, like, an hour.”
Baby towels. A process which should consist of: Are they soft? Do they absorb water? Are they baby size? Bonus points for a cute or fun pattern and a hood with fuzzy ears? Done!
Except then you’re thinking: What’s their absorption rating? Are they organic? Are they manufactured in the US? Are they hand-stitched by local Poughkeepsie artisan weavers in a tradition dating back to pre-colonial era ceremonies in which Monarch butterflies stop off during their annual migration south to add magical silken-thread contrast stitching? (Yes, I do know that monarch butterflies do not produce silk, thank you)
I poke fun. But these things are actually legitimate concerns. There’s that new study that shows the biggest individual climate change impacts are (1) having children; and then (2-4ish) going car-free, avoiding trans-atlantic flights, and eating a plant-based diet. But there’s a drop between the first and the rest by a factor of like a thousand (ok, that’s an exaggeration — but it’s a big gap).
So, your entire family could go vegan your entire lives, or you could just have one less kid.
Needless to say — family planning aside — when a baby enters your life, your consumption goes up by a LOT. You’re acquiring all sorts of toys, clothes, wheelie do-dads, rocking things, swingy things, strolly things, chewy things … the list goes on. So questions of sourcing and production really make a difference in the overall social and environmental impact of all this stuff you’re acquiring.
If you thought planning a wedding puts your values to the test, welcome to your board exams. This is the real deal.
And of course there’s also the question of all the good and bad substances you’re exposing your little one to. There are the obvious ones like crazy cleaning chemicals bad, dirt and dog saliva good, vaccines not just really good but completely necessary for like, you know, the well-being of humanity against the ever-present threat of biological eradication.
But everything in the middle? Much more confusing. Like, getting those little hands dirty with compost at the roots of tuscan kale growing 100 miles up the Hudson river on a small-scale organic biodynamic farm? Awesome! But, dirt from the local park that might contain lead and almost surely has been peed on once or a hundred times by various doggos … *gee.*
So anyway, all the things. And now is a good time to note that we are *very* grateful for the generosity of our friends and family who have bought or donated things from our baby list (and beyond).
And no, it’s not a big deal if those little booties you got us aren’t woven from organic, lactofermented, artisinal kale threads. Red Panda Cub will be just fine.
And that’s what we keep telling ourselves, too. Not only does everything not need to be perfect, *most* things won’t and shouldn’t be perfect.
Perfect is not the goal. We’re gonna make a million mistakes along the way, but we’ll also figure it out, just like our parents did, and theirs before them. Hopefully we won’t screw our kid up too much along the way, and they’ll grow up to be decent, thoughtful humans who are good citizens of their communities and the world.
But if we didn’t screw them up at least a little bit, then therapists would have a lot fewer clients, so at least there’s that. Job security for therapists — one more reason to just keep calm and parent on.