Sunday, June 26, 2005

Accessories not included

Soooo I was pretty sure when we had Davis, that we were going to go minimalist on the Baby Junk. I just didn't want to be Those People whose living room looks like Geoffrey (the ToysRUs giraffe) threw up in it. I swore I would not need/use a bouncy chair, swing, exersaucer, johnny jump-up, or the 5 million chew toys babies seem to acquire. I felt sure I would carry my child everywhere in a sling/bjorn and wouldn't need something to park him in. I mean, heck, we had a crib and a bassinet, wasn't that enough?

Um, whatever. First, my son seemed to hate all things sling-like...he was one of those odd infants who didn't like things around his head and fussed whenever I put him in one. The bjorn-type carrier we had was somewhat better--he liked not having his head squished, but he was such a big guy that I felt about a hundred times bigger than when I was pregnant (which I guess I was, since he was 15 lbs by the time he was 2 1/2 months old). My new 'proportions' made things like doing dishes and laundry somewhat comical, though I did finally figure out some alternate uses for some of my least favorite yoga poses.

So, reluctantly, I started letting him sit in a bouncy chair occasionally. Some dear friends had bought us one--too seasoned to believe me when I said we wouldn't use it--and in it he sat, watched me work in the kitchen, and napped. He actually seemed to like being able to watch me from afar instead of always having the boobs-eye view of things. I wasn't sure how to feel about this; my pathetic needy side might have wanted him to hate it and insist on mommy, please, and accept no substitutes, but it wasn't to be, so I was grateful that he seemed to like it.

The swing--again, a hand-me-down I swore I'd never need--crept into the living room in a similar way. Every so often, this child would get so incredibly fussy that no amount of rocking, walking, jiggling or bouncing would do, and, for lack of a better solution, I would kind of lose it right along with him. This happened when my mother, the venerable Bee-bee, was visiting; she popped him in the swing and lo, how sweet the sound--he was quiet, contented and even happy enough to drop off to sleep. I felt like Early Man who had just heard about' this groovy new thing the kids are calling fire;' in short, I was amazed.

And here's the problem: for me, it was kind of a slippery slope from "oh, wow, he likes that; we should try it once in a while" to "he won't mind being in there another few minutes while I eat lunch/do laundry/do dishes/take a shower/check my email/etc." I found, for instance, that one day I'd almost gone through the day just sitting him down places: from the boppy to the bouncer to the car seat to the stroller to the car seat again to the swing...and this migration to being a Setter-Downer had happened in like a week! I'm sure that scenario works for many parents, but I wanted to be with Davis more, to feel like I was savoring every minute of babyhood in case this is the only chance I have to experience it. So we started slinging (now that he can kind of sit in one, he seems to like it a little better), bjorning, rolling around on the floor and doing more lap-sitting.

And all was well.

At least, until we discovered the doorway jumper. Even if you're not a parent, you know these things: the little baby bucket that suspends from a spring on a grappling hook that hangs from a doorway? When we discovered that the boy's powerful thunder thighs were good for more than just kissing, nibbling on and squeezing, we knew we had to find some way to let him exercise those little legs. So we got a doorway jumper.

And he loves it. I mean, he loves it. It's right up there with Rachel & Leah, daddy and our black cat. Before, with the bouncy chair and swing, I could kind of pretend he didn't care one way or the other. But the jumper? He squeals, grins, talks up a storm and fusses when I take him out. And I, of course, ever mindful of the temptations of items like the jumper and its ilk, which my husband jokingly calls "the potential neglectomatics," am torn between limiting his time in it and high-fiving everyone in the house (okay, usually just Davis and the cats) because it means I can cook some breakfast for myself and actually eat it before naptime.

Oy vey. And they wonder why mothers have cornered the market on guilt! I ask you!