I've got a special treat for you today. Anybody read Julie C. Gardner from By Any Other Name? If not, you are missing out.
Julie's posts have this way of starting very funny and then all of a sudden throwing you for a loop and then by the end you're inspired or crying or booking a plane ticket to California so you can show up on her door step and yell— "SURPRISE!" And then she's all like— "What? Who are you?" And you're like— "Your new best friend! DUH!" And then she lets you use her phone to call your family and tell them you're still alive.
Don't laugh. Read this post about her son's birthday and you'll understand.
Anyway, Julie has what we call "teenagers" and she is here today comparing having a baby in 2011 to having a baby in the olden days of 1996. I know you have lots of questions like— "Did you have to outfit your horse with a car seat back then, Julie?" "Did your wooden stroller give you splinters?" "Did Doc Baker drug you with moonshine and poppy seeds in lieu of an epidural?"
So I'll just let Julie get right to it.
I’m thrilled to be here, although I’ll admit when Ilana first invited me to guest post, I questioned what I could offer you young folk. After all, I recently turned 43 and haven’t been with-child in this millennium. I’m old enough to be Justin Bieber’s mother and have a brain crammed with trivia regarding seminal TV shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
Jealous yet? Of course you are.
Therefore, I feel it’s my duty (as a representative of the Reluctantly Mature) to explore certain aspects of young-motherhood that have improved since I got knocked-up in The Paleolithic Era (A.K.A. 1996):
1. CLOTHING: In my day, pregnancy apparel embraced Peter Pan collars and floral prints reminiscent of Grandma’s bedspread. I received one hand-me-down top that sported a teddy bear claiming I’m not fat! I’m stuffed with love! and a Baby on Board t-shirt with an arrow aimed at my vagina (in case strangers didn’t know where infants emerge). By contrast, 21st Century-fashion embraces the stylish likes of Victoria Beckham and Tori Spelling. In fact their maternity ensembles are more flattering than my current wardrobe and neither lady appears to be stuffed with anything.
2. BABY MONITORS: Today’s parents acquire the latest video technology for their nurseries. But in 1996, such high-tech gear would’ve drained my kids’ non-existent college accounts. Instead, our cheap plastic set-up boasted prehistoric auditory clarity with transistors emitting sounds worthy of a space shuttle launch. Eventually, both pieces retired to the toy box to be used as pretend walkie-talkies. Until my kids located two soup cans and a string which worked better and didn’t require batteries.
3. ULTRASOUNDS: Modern sonogram pictures are now three-dimensional! (Or is it four? And does the Ford Modeling Agency accept pre-natal portfolios?) My own children’s ultrasound images were streakier than a Rachel Zoe zebra-print maternity dress. I took it on faith that I was staring at a human baby although I couldn’t identify a single body part. “Is it a boy? A girl? A cashew?” (What? I was unusually hungry back then. Oh yeah and every day since.)
4. COLD TREATMENTS: I’m chagrined to confess we doped our kids up on pediatric meds at the first sign of congestion. We had no idea that administering the correct dosage for an infant was impossible; that baby cold medicine was ineffective. Now, rather than squirting Dristan at your kids, you get the Nosefrida! This is, of course, preferable to placing your mouth directly over your child’s nostrils and sucking. Probably.
Rest assured whether your kid spends his allotted daily screen-time enjoying Zoboomafoo, Teletubbies, Yo Gabba Gabba or Team Umizoomi, even perennially unpronounceable children’s programming is better than The Love Boat.
And how about guilt? Mothers of every age are hard-wired to question their choices, to lie awake at night wondering if they could do better. Experts suggest we need to forgive ourselves and let guilt go. But I say let’s wallow in our worries and ask for really great gifts on Mother’s Day.
Why, you may ask?
Because we crave the scent of baby scalp and avoid the smell of Desitin.
Because we finish soggy grilled-cheese sandwiches and sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
Because from the minute we first see the cone-headed, cheesy-skinned faces of our offspring, we are suddenly and irrevocably stuffed with love.
We give thanks to our own parents. We cradle eternity in our hands. We feel the pull of generations long after the CLOSED sign begins blinking above our uteruses. Or is it uteri? It really doesn’t matter.
Because this place called Motherhood remains OPEN for a lifetime.
Editor's Note: See??