Now don’t get me wrong, I love baby stuff. I. Love. It. It’s been a part of my life and job long before Bea was even a blip in my brain waves. I’ve coveted it, reviewed it, gifted it … I’ve even hoarded it. By all measurements, I should be ready to tackle everything from diaper rash to packing lunch for Bea’s first day of kindergarten.
But I’ve really struggled with figuring out when to pull each item out of its tidy hiding place. There are so many bottles, bouncers, toys, and books … what if I introduce something too early and she hates it, or worse, too late and she barely gets to use it? Or what if in all of my indecision and sleeplessness I completely skip an important brain-building tool and ruin my baby’s chances of being potty trained, having friends, or becoming an Ivy Leaguer/tennis pro/humanitarian?
Oh, the self-inflicted pressure! I have analysis paralysis, and it’s totally ridiculous.
Some things are obvious. The carriers came out of the closet out of necessity. Even though I mastered doing a whole list of chores one-handed, my throbbing lower back prompted me to go digging for the wrap. Other baby goods aren’t so obvious. Like the toys. Sure, the packages read 0+ months, but I felt silly standing over my 4-day-old drowsy baby wagging a rattle in front of her half-opened, I-couldn’t-be-less-focused eyes. So I just didn’t do it. That is until my mom came to visit and chided me in her most concerned southern drawl: “Doesn’t this sweet baby have any toys? She’s ready for them!”
But how do ya’ know she’s ready, mom, How-Do-You-Know?!
It’s hard to wrap my mind around exactly what I’m supposed to be using to make the most of these early stages. Part of the problem is that there’s so much going on in the first few weeks postpartum that it feels strained to squeeze one more thing into our day. But the other, bigger issue is that I get a little twinge of guilt when I bust out a bouncer or turn to the swing to engage her whenever she’s happy and awake or soothe her when she’s fussy and tired. Even though I know it’s outrageous and impractical, I have this nagging feeling that a true Super Mom would be able to tackle all of those moments using nothing but her two arms and a soft voice. Now that I have my own perfect little baby, it’s weirdly difficult to trust her happiness to stuff (albeit fabulous stuff).
However, I’m getting over the hump—embracing trial and error, accepting the fact that there will be hits and misses, and understanding that I can rely on all sorts of baby-rearing aids (or not) and still be a wonderful mom with a happy, healthy infant who grows into a perfectly normal walking, talking, potty trained adult.
With that in mind, I’ve forced myself to introduce a new item every week. And guess what: Both of our lives are better. Instead of rocking her for an hour every evening, the rockaRoo is there to help swing her whimpers away. And now, instead of just staring at my face when she’s awake, Bea has a whole pile of toys and an activity gym to coo at. Best of all, it’s getting easier for me to know when it’s time to drag something of the closet and put it to use. My mom would be so proud.