My husband and I took our daughter to Tallahassee, Fla., during the Fourth of July weekend to visit my husband’s family. Reese had a great time playing with all her little cousins and being spoiled by her grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was wonderful to catch up with my in-laws, and I especially enjoyed a conversation I had one evening with my sister-in-law, who is expecting her third baby in about two months.
I asked her how preparations were going for her new little guy’s arrival: Had she finished the nursery yet? Does she have a name picked out? What kinds of baby gear does she already have on hand, and what does she still need? Her laid-back responses surprised me, but I found them refreshing.
My sister-in-law isn’t even sure yet which room in her two-story house will belong to the baby, so no, she hasn’t started — let alone finished — the nursery. She and her husband haven’t yet come to an agreement on the baby’s name. She has a few pieces of “baby equipment” left over from her first two children, but still needs to pick up some essentials.
I remembered how I’d run myself ragged during the last trimester of my pregnancy to make sure all the baby preparations had been taken care of. The nursery was finished and stocked with a year’s worth of clothes from newborn size to 12 months. The stroller, crib, dresser, rocking chair and changing table all had been assembled. I had two cases of diapers and wipes on hand. My husband and I had settled on Reese’s name before we even knew we were having a girl. My bag for the hospital was packed and ready to go eight weeks before my due date.
I think my sister-in-law has the right idea. This being her third child, she seems to know that it’ll all come together sooner or later. There’s no point in stressing out over sterilizing a dozen bottles and lining the baby’s dresser drawers with contact paper two months before the little one is due to arrive.
Digging her low-key vibe, I asked my sister-in-law whether she’s more of a “crunchy” all-natural, holistic mama or a “silky” traditional, modern type of mama.
“What?” she asked.
I was baffled. How could a woman who is about to welcome her third child not know about the mommy wars? I filled her in.
Silky moms may be seen as more traditional, I explained. They prefer hospital births, believe in vaccinating, and use disposable diapers, formula and store-bought baby food. Their babies sleep in cribs and usually attend school outside the home. Crunchy moms prefer home or midwife births, use cloth diapers, are against vaccinations and typically nurse their children into toddlerhood. Crunchy parents sleep in the same bed as their babies, often choose homeschooling and believe a child cannot be overcoddled.
My sister-in-law had no idea about the two categories, nor was she very interested in them. At that point, I became downright envious. I couldn’t imagine living a life where I didn’t obsess constantly that mothers from the other side of the equation are judging me for the choices I make.
Puzzled, I asked my sister-in-law whether she was worried a friend, acquaintance or relative might criticize her for foregoing cloth diapers, feeding her baby from a bottle or pushing her little one in a stroller as opposed to wearing him in a sling.
It was her turn to be puzzled. She asked why someone would worry about such things and pointed out that every mother makes educated decisions about what is best for her and her child. And that’s all you can do, right? After all, she added, a happy mama means a happy baby.
How enlightening! And how right she is. I can’t speak for all of us, but I do think new parents have a tendency to overprepare, overreact, overcompensate, overthink things and be overly critical and quick to judge our counterparts. It seems we could all learn a thing or two by talking to a veteran mom who’s already done the whole song and dance a time or two. I sure wish I’d thought to have that conversation with my sister-in-law when I was still an expectant mama. It likely would have saved me some time and trouble.