Friday, February 9, 2007

Crib Envy

Having a child has made me a shallower person.

Here’s an anecdote by way of example:
Recently the NY Times announced a new online magazine,, for hip ironic parents, a magazine ostensibly showcasing people talking about parenthood with a no-holds-barred honesty, telling it like it really is, with lashings of bleak humor and risque self-analyses and uncomfortable truths and so forth. Sounds promising, thinks I. Cut to said magazine where on its inaugural page one may click on videos of new parents dishing it like it really is. I am picturing people who look like me: in a purple robe, teeth yellowed by too much coffee, general dishevelment abounding, a flotilla of wadded diapers spilling out of the bin in the background.

But what I find first is the founding eds (who are married to each other), adorable dad and an astonishingly svelte and lovely cool-glass-of-milk-type mom, dandling upon the knee their tot, himself a veritable union of tasteful genes. The parents interrupt one another cutely as a couple, in their eager bid to share the experience of new parenthood with the viewer – a desire to speak candidly, which is the supposed point of the video. And what of the hardship of being new parents? In between the obligatory mention of sleep deprivation by a very much non-sleep-deprived-looking dad, they issue such candid and risque soundbytes as "you fall in love with them more each day" and "Declan has added a whole new color to our rainbow" -- cut to Declan frolicking tastefully beside is it…? Is it? I think it IS – A Stokke crib.

Okay. So this really tweaks my vibe. Call me jealous -- I am jealous! and freely admit it -- but these peeps need to zip it. Don't talk to me about new colors in your rainbow from your hipster loft perch with its fabulous Minimalist baby accoutrements, such as the Stokke crib, bountiful indeed, but oh-so-pricey!

Yes, the Modernist Minimalist Urban Parent scene bugs me hugely, as I sit here in my purple robe. MMUPs have the Stokke crib. Or else, the designer David Netto's streamlined crib. And I say to these types, Don’t tell me you feel so fulfilled on a deeper level when you can fork out the cash to buy your bassinet from a chap who winks at me from cyberspace, arms folded, chicness radiating from his kelly-green tee and navy blazer ensemble Call me shallow – I am shallow! – but let me tell it to you like it really is: it’s a bloody side harder to be a parent when you have to look at ugly baby furniture. At least that’s how I see it from my bloody-unfabulous perch. And I recognize that this makes me a snippy and low-caliber person for saying so, but sad to say, this is the level of evolvement I am at. Apparently, having a perfect baby is meant to make me count my blessings but instead it has made me want perfect baby furniture. And want it, I do.

When I first got pregnant and was fretting the finances, a wealthy friend told me, "Kids don't need money; they just need love." True, but as many a poor parent has discovered, kids might not need the money, but mom and dad do. We do a lot better with it than without. And don't tell me that stuff doesn't matter when your stuff is nicer than mine. How would you know? Seeing the charming Babble couple being so charming to their child and each other – this makes me wonder whether perhaps I too might not be more charming to my child and to my husband were we, too, blessed by a Stokke crib. Or a bent-birch-clad Netto-pod in our pea’s bedroom. Or even forget the cribs. Just the high chair.
I mean of course the Stokke highchair.

How I wanted that high chair, so tasteful, so practical. So $200, though. So instead we made what turned out to be a fatal error. We bought the infinitely cheaper and more hideous Eddie Bauer , which is literally emblazoned with the words Eddie Bauer in a sort of looping cursive brand into the wood. “Wood!” we thought "at least it's wood so it won't be as ugly as the rest.” But this was not the truth. It is almost uglier than the plastic ones, because it is pretending to be nicer looking than it really is. And the Eddie Bauer scripted logo…I tried to cover it with a witty decal, but it is truly and proudly etched into the chair…ugh!

Back to the Babble soundbyte I suspect the reason that Declan's mom looks so happy and serene has a lot to do with the fact that D may just be experiencing a Scandinavian-inflected childhood. Granted I can’t see much beyond the video frame but I suspect there are other nifty utilitarian and eye-pleasing furnishings, totally attractive garments, and I'll take a bet, a Stokke highchair too to match the Stokke crib, which I might add starts at some-700 greenbacks. In some ways the happiness of Declan's parental unit makes me feel bad about myself; in other ways it makes me feel better about myself, for since seeing this video I have concluded that I should blame many of my foul-humored cross-patch impatient mommy moments not on myself, but on the Eddie Bauer high chair.

Sample scenario: It’s meal time and my toddler flicks mashed potato into her lap while on the EB.
Mom: “Look what you’ve done!” (cross face) Bends to try and push mash-blob from between jail-bars of wood chair, an intricate maze of knotty pine at the seat. Find mash ball and smear further between bars in effort to extract. “Dammit!”
Tot: “Dammit!”

Later: Mom chips hardened mash out a knot in the knotty pine of the EB. She is resentful. And takes it out on Dad.

Sample scenario: It’s meal time and toddler flicks mashed potato into her lap.
Mom: “ Oopsy!” (laughing) Reaches to wipe away the mash ball, easily accessed by dint of the Stokke’s graceful elemental form. A placid contented-mother smile flashes at my lips. Mash easily accessed and wiped off mint-green Stokke surface. Meal continues in an exemplification of family togetherness. Dad arrives home in time to see mom and baby share a moment of playful, uninhibited, good-for-sensory-development mash smearing. Smear with abandon, little one! No harm done. It comes right off!

OK, so the rest of the Babble web site has some good stuff on it. There are some funny essays. Let’s give these people a chance. I am starting to feel bad. And need to issue and apology. Sorry Babble co-founders and Declan that I have been so mean-spirited about and to you. It's not your fault you are attractive and have nice gear. It's not your fault that some person in Wyoming is pissy in a purple robe and takes it out on you, but don’t you see, this is what happens when you have crap furniture. It changes who you are. Aesthetics are not superficial. I would be much nicer, much happier, and definitely a better mom if I had your shit. But this is what becomes of people who buy the Eddie Bauer highchair – they turn whiny and covet your crib.

Yes indeedy, the EB is the start of a slippery slope toward total house ugliness and parental despair. Start with the EB and next thing you know you will have an Exersaucer in your living room and think nothing about using it as a tray for snacks at your next grownup dinner party. And from Exersaucer it’s just one short step to having that plastic brown and blue slide-tree house-combo thing next to the Exersaucer. Permanently.

So, prospective new parents, pony up the extra cash. Get the Stokke ! For God’s sake. Or you shall rue the day. And if you can find the $1000-plus, get the Netto-crib too. Reason with yourself: after all, you paid the same amount to the doula and she didn't even make it in time for the birth. Seriously, from what I can see Netto is a far better and more lasting investment.
But why is he winking?


grunnio corocotta said...

"Kids don't need money, they just need love"? Wow. Just wow. That's like the thirtysomething NYC lady-who-lunch friend of a friend who, hearing us (circa 2005) allude to wishing we could buy a house and settle down, was all "Oh! (claps hands like %$#@! Tinkerbell) Househunting is so fun!" They've got the the clue-supply hose pinched off under all their bags of Uncle Scrooge cash, I swear ...

So here's a confession: before we had our (hauntingly refined and beautiful, as drawn from the figures of Mackintosh or the lines of a Yeats poem) kid, under mother-in-lawful influence, we actually bought that fucking Stokke crib ... and now, seven months in, we're eating frozen taquitos from Costco for dinner three times a week. I curse every time I see that thing. It sits there screaming "illusion" and "malinvestment." There's a Stokke crib over the gate of Tophet in Pilgrim's Progress. Seriously, it's not the one-working-parent prosperity of the sixties anymore, where dad's home at five to take over baby duty on top of everything else. M-in-law may not have been able to make the adjustment, but we've certainly done so in a hurry. It's just boggling what it costs to raise a child today.

Anonymous said...

Eddie Bauer makes high chairs? How quaint!

Crabmommy said...

Grunnio, you crack me up. Frozen taquitos from Costco three times a week...this is the other side of the Stokke abyss, I suppose, where one resents the furniture precisely for promising prosperity...a false start. Thanks for making me feel better about the Eddie Bauer.