My grandmother once told me that the arrival of a new baby today is received entirely different than it was when she was a baby. She told me that today when people hear that another baby is to be expected, the event is celebrated and anticipated. She told me that her own birth was similar to taking a bus to go on a trip and having nobody there to meet you at your destination. In other words, a baby was something to be “dealt” with as another inconvenience in an already inconvenient life.
I would like to think that nobody views the birth of a baby today in such a manner, but I know that that is not true. Lots of people have babies that they don’t really want to have. In fact, I know many people who chose to have children and then later wonder what the hell they got themselves involved in.
I don’t know when exactly it happened, but somewhere along our anthropological journey it seems as though humans grew very disconnected from themselves as mammals. I know that sounds weird, but follow me. When a dog is preparing to have puppies, the dog doesn’t start buying up books to better educate herself on how to best raise the puppies. And I have yet to see a gorilla at the zoo ask her keeper for tips on how to best get her baby gorilla to sleep. These mammals, though very different from humans, know exactly how to care for their young. And they don’t seem bothered by the “inconvenience of having children.”
But humans are different. Yes, we are mammals, but we are “evolved” or at the very least better than all those other lame mammals. And we have very busy lives. We have careers to manage. We have bills to pay. We have social lives to maintain, and we have lifestyles to maintain. So we can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of having children…but we still have them anyway.
Despite how difficult, busy and ridiculous our lives are, the vast majority of the population still reproduces. Because despite having these lives that we don’t want disrupted, we also want to have a child to enjoy all of those cool moments that we see on television and in the movies. We want somebody to carry on the family name. We want somebody to share experiences with and impart our wisdom on. Or at the very least, we want somebody to put us into a nice home when we grow senile…even better if they keep us out of the home and let us stay in their home.
So in a classic “I want to have my cake and eat it too” move, these same people, who want to lead these lives where they wake up with their hair perfectly in place after having slept 8 hours and then find their babies asleep in a dry diaper at 9 a.m, need to find solutions to all of the “problems” that their children have. And so they go to the bookstores, online chats and websites by experts to have their kid’s “problems” solved…so they can go back to hitting the gym, keeping their lunch dates and getting their beauty sleep.
I once fell into this group of people. I had my firstborn and quickly found myself shell shocked. I couldn’t help but think,
“How the eff am I suppose to do all of this shit?!”
How was I suppose to lose the “baby” weight? How was I suppose to look magazine perfect whenever I walked out of my house? When was I suppose to stop being so bitchy? How was I going to have a career? Why didn’t my husband realize how tough everything was? When was I going to have MY life back?
I had all of these questions and my kid had all of these “problems” like:
being hungry all the time
not sleeping 8 hours a night
not being able to adequately express his needs
not wanting to sleep alone
wanting to be held all the time
So you can see that once I discovered my kid had this long laundry list of “problems”, and I had all of these very pressing “needs,” the only rational explanation was to find a book written by somebody with some letters after their name to help me “solve” my problems.
So I bought a lot of books. Actually, I bought an entire freaking library that included titles like this:
And none of it helped.
I tried letting my son cry it out to remedy his sleep “problems.” It didn’t work. My son would cry and cry and cry and cry for all lengths of time. And like an idiot, I listened to the rules written by some “expert” and let him keep on crying until he was a complete wreck and my husband and I were ready to kill one another. Side note: If you are looking for a great way to end a good marriage, take advice from people that call themselves parenting experts and inform you to ignore every biological instinct you have about children.
I tried not holding my kid all the time so as to not “spoil” him. Because in case you didn’t know, children are a lot like fruit and can easily spoil if handled to much.
I tried just slapping some ointment onto my kid’s gums instead of letting him nurse as much as he wanted to because he had teeth coming in. Because he already had that “clingy” problem, and I didn’t want to exacerbate it.
I even tried teaching my son some sign language in hopes that he would not be so frustrated when communicating his needs to me, but really, I just didn’t want to be so damn frustrated when my son was trying to communicate his needs to me. Well, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but young, pre-verbal children can’t associate a sign with an emotion that they have yet to comprehend. And let’s face it, there is no sign in a baby sign language program for, “I’M JUST FREAKIN’ PISSED, MOM!”
So for various reasons, my husband and I decided to wait quite awhile before having another child. And as I got farther along in my second pregnancy, I suddenly had the realization that this new baby was probably going to have all of the same “problems” as my first born. So I decided it was time to start buying books again in order to nip these problems in the bud.
Because God forbid I have another child who wanted to be with me all the time, sleep in my bed, nurse on demand and…well, just be a normal baby.
So I bought this book…
But before I read that book, I watched these movies:
And then my wheels got turnin’, and I bought these books:
I realized something.
I realized that my first born never had any “problems.” I was the one with all the problems. I wanted a television baby. You know, the kind of baby that…
immediately sleeps when placed in a crib
enjoys spending time alone
sleeps 8 hours
eats at convenient times
isn’t too clingy
rarely has gas
and cuts teeth like a hot knife through butter
But babies aren’t like that….not even a little bit. You see, babies don’t understand that we mammals of the human variation are not so inclined to tend to these primal needs. We have more important things to do like fit into skinny jeans, have “me” time and get our beauty sleep. Babies don’t get any of that shit.
So in essence, babies are still just as “inconvenient” as they were when my Grandma was being born; however, now we have a whole industry geared towards modifying these natural inconveniences so that they fit seamlessly into our schedules…right between drinks with the girls and a one hour massage.
But in my opinion, of debatable, educated intelligence, all of this tinkering with the natural caring of babies is not boding so well for the greater part of society. I don’t know if you have spent much time with the greater population, but there are some really screwed up people out there. And having spent a fair amount of time working with children in public schooling, there is a fair amount of kids that are pretty screwed up. These screwed up people have to come from some place. And sure, a lot of these screwed up people probably came from parents who were terrible…but how do you know which parents are the terrible ones? I remember hearing this some place, though I am not certain where, but I feel it is appropriate to share…
“For a society where every person claims to be a great parent, there sure are a lot of screwed up people in this world.”
And, no, the blame can’t all be placed on “experts” or books or even the random people that give you advice on the street corner. No, I think the blame falls on the parents. I think the blame falls on the people who expect to have a baby come into their life and just assimilate into their own lifestyle. That is stupid. Most people don’t even expect that of a puppy.
I don’t have any solutions to this issue. I am just the former joe-schmo mom who use to buy baby books like a cigarette addict hoping that eventually I would get one that had the magic formula for having the perfect, easy baby. But that book doesn’t exist. And if it did, it would say this…
“Kids are inconvenient. It is true. They won’t sleep when you want them to. They will probably eat more than you expected. They will most likely want to sleep with you, and they will probably make a lot of noise. But if you get over yourself, learn to sacrifice a little and quit viewing every normal thing your child does as a problem, you might just realize that kids are the greatest inconvenience you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing.”
A reformed parenting book buyer who now has enough sense to just go with the flow, listen to her heart and forget about what the effing experts have to say in their overpriced books.
P.S. My four year old does not appear to be screwed up due to my lack of common sense during his infancy…however, by all outward appearances, I look normal too.