Drawing the line between what’s important and what’s irrelevant
It’s starting to sink in that pregnancy actually ends with a new person in our lives. And that the new little human is gonna need some things. This is a frustrating realization when accumulating things is a source of anxiety for two people who had very few things for a very long time. I denied it for as long as possible. I ignored the friends who told me to “never say no” when a mom offered me hand-me-downs. I pretended we would be those people who only needed a sling and some diapers. I convinced myself that we could keep the baby in a padded drawer and wrap him in Rob’s old t-shirts. I watched moms in Myanmar do just that with their babies – well, minus Rob’s shirts. Babies in Polynesia and Southeast Asia didn’t have copious gear. Or any gear, really. And there were plenty of healthy older kids running around, no worse for wear after forsaking vibrating chairs, Baby Bjorns, bouncy swings or embroidered onesies in their infancy. I know, rationally, that our baby only needs us and some breast milk to get by. But after living in the States again for a couple of months, I’ve realized that Rob and I probably need a little more to survive his infancy. So I’ve stopped saying “no, thanks” to all the first-world gear that makes new parents’ lives easier. The problem is that I don’t know how to close the Pandora’s Box now that it’s open. Do we really need 4 hats for little dude? 12 puzzles? 6 stuffed bears? Boxes of toys and baby clothes have started to appear on our front step, generous gifts from friends. But instead of sorting through it, I’m paralyzed by dreams of being buried alive in an avalanche of baby gear, tiny mismatched booties choking me as I tread water in a sea of noisy plastic gadgets. I’m overreacting. It’s true. But I want to know how to draw the line between necessity and frivolity. Between what’s important and what’s irrelevant. These are lines that extend beyond baby gear, obviously. In fact, perhaps our struggle with accepting baby things is simply a metaphor for our simultaneous struggle to settle back down after a year that changed everything. As I grow this baby, Rob and I are also growing our own identities to make sure they include who we were before we left as well as who we are after traveling. What do we choose to keep from past lives and adventures that’s important and what do we toss that’s irrelevant? Everything is about to change again. Two months from today (give or take), a new person enters our household. We probably need more than a drawer to help us help him. Any suggestions about (or donations of) essential baby-raising items would be much appreciated. And, of course, we always welcome discussions about the line between what’s necessary and what’s frivolous in everyday life.