Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Some Baby Things That Are Awesome (Part I?)

First of all, I'm almost never a fan of people's blogs about their baby.  Not because I dislike those people, or even their baby, but because of the baby-language, and inherent "sweetness" of everything that is said, pictured, and described.  When mine comes in a few weeks, I might change all of this, but in the meantime, I don't really love it.

But blogger-moms, it's not your fault.  I blame the baby product industry, primarily.  If you dare, walk into a baby store.  Everything will be some form of pastel color, with soft-focus pictures of beautiful women who didn't gain an ounce of baby weight, cooing over their beautiful child, who's enjoying some toy or foam baby seat enormously.  The music is as soft-focus as the package photography, and it's easy to imagine a world where you take your baby home to a magical, soft-focus place where pleasant sounds and textures put baby and parent at ease.

Folks, that's called a spa, and it'll cost you $60/hour for that kind of ease.  I don't have a child yet, but I do have some baby stuff.  And some of it is pretty cool.  Allow me to plug a few items, without the soft-focus photos and peaceful baby-ness.

 This is tight.  One of Tori's relatives knit it, along with some matching sock/shoe things and a hat.  When Tori brought it home from her baby shower, she was kind of hesitant, not too excited about it, but she was missing the awesome-ness.  If you have friends or relatives who knit, get them to make this, it looks easy.  It's basically a bag to put your child in.  She'll be warm and snug, since it tapers at the end.  But most importantly, she'll look awesome doing it, and might love Alice in Wonderland a bit sooner in life.  I will proudly tote my child around in a glow worm sack.  Maybe with the hat on.  And sunglasses.  She's gonna be cooler than me already.

 How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go, little girl?

This frog is a humidifier.  As an undergrad voice major, it was in vogue to wear a scarf when the temperature dropped below 80 degrees, and have a humidifier in your bedroom.  You know, to make up for the fact that you just screamed for 3 hours at a football game, or vomited half the morning after your big night.  I guess with all that screaming to do, it's important for babies to look after their vocal health, too, so humidifier it is.  This one was $2 at a yard sale, and looks way cooler than normal ones.  

What's so cool about a baby monitor?  They have ones that do a video feed, how can this one be better?  Because this baby monitor doesn't look all pastel baby dreamland, it looks like it belongs to a Stormtrooper.  And since you can talk, not just listen, from the rechargeable units, when baby is older and turns into cool little kid, these baby monitors will turn into walkie-talkies.  Video feed THAT.

A great example of soft-light baby advert love.  Apparently if I use these monitors, my baby will love me better, tell jokes, and match my pajamas.

These are the monitors you're looking for.
I don't like washing dishes.  This is tight, because I can rinse bottles out, and toss them in here.  Put it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and they are clean.  Otherwise, I could see my baby getting sick, and tracing it back to my half-assed bottle cleaning job the week before.  Disregard the smiley packaging.

I don't use a bath mitt, personally.  But I also have pretty dextrous appendages, with good fine motor skills.  So I assume bath mitts are a normal part of washing your baby.  Makes sense - when the baby makes some awkward move and falls face-first in the water, you can save her without dropping your wash cloth.  But this one is better, because it's a shark, and therefore fun to play with, as well.  I like the teeth especially.  Until someone buys me the stuffed Jabberwock from my Amazon wish list, this wins the "best personality of a cloth baby item" award in our house.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Are you ready?"

When people know that your wife is pregnant, one of the things they always ask is, "Are you ready?"  I always say yes, and then typically follow it with some description of the baby items we've amassed, an update on my sanding & staining of Baby Girl's dresser, something like that.

But really, that's a pretty thin defense of my "readiness."  If I'd just gone out and bought myself a kayak, paddle, and helmet, would I be "ready" for some class five rapids?  Absolutely not, I don't know the first thing about navigating rapids, or kayaking, for that matter.  The gear does me little good.

I always say "yes" to that question though, because anything else would worry people.  You need not worry, so I simplify my answer, and everyone's happy.  Just this once, though, I'll try to more fully flesh out my state of "readiness," and say that I'm "excited, a touch anxious, and flying blind, but as ready as I can be."  See?  You're already worried about my child, and I just told you not to be.  Allow me to explain a little:

I'm definitely "ready," in the sense that I want to be a father.  I am ready to see my little girl, to tell her what her name is, to rejoice in the miracle of birth alongside my wife.  She's probably going to be really cute, and I'm ready to have her fall asleep on me in some cute position that makes my wife cry.  That'll be fun.

I'm mostly "ready," in the physical preparation sense.  The nursery is nearly put together - Tori would like the crib to be white to match everything else, so I'll try my hand at painting fancy, knobby woodwork, but that's really the last thing that will require any real effort.

Mentally and spiritually, I don't know how "ready" I can be until it happens.  I think parenthood is something that is inevitably learned on-the-job.  I've been thinking about my responsibility to her as her father, to do my best to show her the love of God, her Father, in a tangible way, to bring her up in a loving family where she has confidence in who she is and can be free to love and serve others in light of that.  And the new task of balancing the roles of "father" and "husband" at home, to continue loving and leading my wife while doing all of the above for my daughter, and demonstrating for her what  a healthy relationship looks like.  Man, that's a LOT.  If you say, "Yeah, I'm ready for all of that," you're probably not seeing the whole thing.

So that's my real answer.  Am I ready?  Sure.  I will be.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Cons

So when I've talked to people about my decision to leave my school (read, "unemployment in nice packaging"), I inevitably get one of a few positive statements:

"I think that's awesome that you're putting your family first."
"I'm sure you'll find a job up there, you're a great teacher."
"Well whatever happens, I know you'll be a great dad."

Those things are good, and I appreciate people saying them.  But we're ignoring a really big elephant in the room: I AM UNEMPLOYED, AND ABOUT TO HAVE A CHILD THAT COSTS A LOT.  And that's just the practical elephant - there are others, including me potentially finishing a Master's degree, with nowhere to use it, me feeling useless in my culturally-conditioned masculine role of providing for my family, etc.  And all of THAT is just the stuff about me, it doesn't even scratch the surface of the baby-rearing stuff.

There will be time for concern and reflection on my career path - I thought that here, for your entertainment, I'd list a few things that worry or bother me about actually having a baby.  For the veterans among you, this will be pretty amusing.

There are two things I find universally foul in life - feet, and bathrooms.  Diapers are like bathrooms that got rubbed all over your baby, and then you have to mess with it.  A bunch of times every day.  The first time I changed the poopy undergarments of another human being, I almost threw up on an adorable little four-year-old girl.  It's not gonna be pretty.  And even worse, my wife wants to use cloth diapers/  I get it - it will save us lots of money over the course of my child's upbringing.  But man, I have to clean that stuff OUT?  And then put it in the washing machine, where I put my own, poop-free clothes?  That's really disgusting, and it's hands-down the thing I'm dreading most about my baby.

If you ever hear me using baby words, ESPECIALLY if I'm not talking to a baby, I give you permission to punch me in the face.  I hate adults talking like babies.  And even worse, I hate baby products with unnecessarily stupid names, as if they're named so that babies can say it easier, regardless of the fact that BABIES DON'T TALK WHEN THEY'RE THAT SMALL.  A few examples:

Pacifiers.  People have the dumbest names for pacifiers - the most frequent one I can think of is "binky."  You made that up, your child didn't.  You probably referred to it as a "binky" months before your child said anything at all.  Why????

There are these pillows that are horseshoe-shaped, made for really little babies who don't sit up on their own well yet.  I own one, and I'm sure I'll find it very useful.  But I refuse to call it a "Boppy."  That's what it's called on the package, and people use that name just like they call the copy machine a Xerox.  Hell no.  And the same goes for the butt-shaped squishy chair that keeps kids from falling over while eating, the "Bumbo."  How about "chair?"  Yeah, I like that.  We all know which chair the baby uses.

I guess I'll learn this soon enough, but I keep wondering, do you just have to have a visual on the baby all the time?  What do I do with her when I shower?  What about when I am out in public and have to go to the bathroom?  I'm not gonna put her on the bathroom I hold her?  I know people drop their phones in the toilet on a semi-regular basis - dropping the baby in the toilet would be worse.  I just don't know what happens here.  And what about when she's asleep?  Can I go do other stuff?  Can I get the mail, or do I have to bring her out to the mailbox?

Honestly, those are about the only things worrying me about being a father right now.  If you have kids, you're probably laughing at the things I don't even know I should worry about yet.  If you don't, you're probably as disgusted by cloth diapers and baby words as I am.