Mommy Power

One reason to have a baby, in my mind, is to be able to register at Target and carry around that red scanning gun.

It is almost better than a microphone at karaoke. And infinitely more satisfying than a label-making gun (though I remember, many years ago, thinking I might go into food service management just so I could be in charge of the label machine).

The Target red scanning gun is perfect for two reasons: 1) not everyone has one and 2) you shoot it at things and it makes noises.

I should mention at this point that I used to oppose registries. I thought they micro-managed the gift-buying process. Also, I hate the idea of buying new things. So much so that I once spent a year not buying anything new (an experience I also blogged about). I am still opposed to registries, at least philosophically. But there are realities in life.

Like the fact that my mom wants to throw us a baby shower when we come to visit for Christmas–and that’s awfully sweet of her. Also the fact that, despite doing our damnedest to get our hands on as many used and hand-me-down baby items as possible (thanks in big part to Blanca, Marta’s sister-in-law), we still face a deficit in the baby preparedness sector.

And so, with Blanca as our steady guide, Marta and I went to Target on Monday and registered. We named our registry team “Sarah, Marta & Balduino,” which I think thoroughly confused the mousy Target associate who was waiting to give us our registry gun. She looked from my face to Marta’s and then Blanca’s, trying to determine what kind of queer family we were, before finally handing me the gun with a timid smile. “Just come back if you have any problems,” she said, before scurrying back behind her Customer Service counter.

To be generous, I let Marta play with the gun at at first. She scanned some breast pumps and a couple of baby bottles before I declared her level of enthusiasm unacceptable and took control of things. By things, I mean the red scanning gun.

One really does feel powerful with it in your hands.

Though, as Blanca led us through the aisles, pointing out the various things we would need–or other things that would make our lives tremendously more peaceful if we had them on hand–I began to feel something quite the opposite of power. Terror, perhaps? And hopelessness.

There are so many things in the baby world! The Boppy Bare-Neck Pillow. The Summer Infant By-Your-Side Sleeper. The Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Boy Pacifier. And I have no idea what we are supposed to do with them. Is it OK, for instance, to give the Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Boy Pacifier to a girl? And is the Summer Infant-by-Your-Side Sleeper also useful in early Fall?

But more pointedly: What in the world am I going to do when we actually have a tiny little thing and he is alive and squirmy and not just a pooch in Marta’s stomach? I surely can’t treat him the same way I treat Finn. There are standards to follow. And yet I have no idea what they are.

I was struck by this devastating thought, this bowing sense of defeat before the powers of the infant world, while standing in a Target aisle before a row of mix-and-match strollers, the once powerful-seeming red scanner gun dangling in my hand. Suddenly I wanted to run back to the mousy costumer service associate and sob into her shoulder.

It was like an existential crisis. Though much less French.

What finally brought me back was the red gun. In the midst of my haze of utter helplessness, its chipper scanning beep assured me that it would, indeed, all work out. That thousands of families before us have scanned and survived. Better yet, I remembered that we’ve been mass producing babies for centuries, without the help of Tippie or Boppy or Einstein anything, and those children have–mostly–grown up OK.

Our odds are good.

36 thoughts on “Mommy Power

    • Hey Beth – It’ll actually be my first shower ever so I’m at a bit of a loss as what to do, besides, I supposed, say thank you and watch people pat Marta’s belly 🙂


  1. Yes, you’ll do just fine. And though lots of baby things are ridiculously redundant, many really do make life easier. Our youngest is now thirteen and I see parents with things that I wish I had had at the time. Like a seat and handlebar cover for grocery store carts. Good luck, ladies!


    • Thanks Barbara. I never get tired of hearing that message: that we’ll do fine. It’s music to the paranoid soon-to-be mother’s ears.


  2. Someone once told me that having your first baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. I’d have to agree. It is wild and wonderful all at once. New motherhood has quite the initiation period…but it is worth it, a million times over.


  3. I have three kids. The youngest is almost 8. On recent visits to the baby department (for friends showers) I was completely overwhelmed by all the new stuff that has been invented for babies.
    All that stuff is completely distracting and way more difficult than raising a child.
    Good luck. The Target scanner did not lie; it really will all work out.


  4. Although I’ve never had the joy of playing with a scanning gun, this all sounds quite familiar. I too try to avoid buying new as much as possible, and find the vast and boundless amounts of baby stuff quite formidable at times. Although armed with that trusty red scanning gun, I’m sure you’ll battle through just fine!


  5. I’m not quite sure how that Red Target scanner works for a buyer. If you scan an item, does that mean you bought it? If so, I shudder at the possibilities of a scanner running wild through Target. It would be so easy to buy everything one fancies. For me, I suspect I would hear the scanner talking to me making suggestions …


  6. Congrats on the baby and being Freshly Pressed!!! I’ve had 2 kiddos, the first time I bought or found everything “baby” should need. Wasted alot of money and time shopping for stuff I used once, if ever. The second kid required only a nipple shield for she wanted to nurse 24/7 and caused me to crack and bleed (not to scare ya’ll!!!) You can get by without most of that crap in Target, Wal-Mart, Babies-R-Us… Garage sales and craigslist are great for finding used items that are still in good shape. Best of luck to you both 🙂


  7. Parenting is a lot easier than most “parents” let on, regardless of the number of children that are in play. I have always been of the opinion that the only thing that’s hard about being a parent is
    1. stepping out of the way and letting things happen
    2. not letting your ego dictate how you interact with your child.

    I wish you luck. And congrats on getting “pressed”!


  8. I find it hilarious that you had a moment where you almost lost it with the registry. When I got married, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond feeling like I was ahead of the game fulfilling my new “wifely” duties. I thought I knew exactly what we would need as a new couple and was so ready to prove to him that I had everything together. I don’t know what happened, but as soon as I was given the power of the gun, I stood there completely overwhelmed and could not move! Literally! I think I scanned just one thing and then spent the next 40 minutes in a corner near the placemats crying. I don’t know what came over me, but it was very initmidating. I finally gained control over the scanner, but it was after a second visit to the store and a lot of cojoling and hugging from my future husband. kudos to you for not losing it like I did.


  9. Pingback: The “should” in babymaking | This Queer Familia

  10. Oh boy do I relate! I now have two little boys, but I still remember the huge meltdown I had when we went shopping for my older son’s stroller. I was still pregnant and my husband casually mentioned that perhaps we might as well get some socks for the baby. Seeing that socks and a stroller were going to be the only two things this baby would have, had I taken my husband up on his offer, this was the wrong thing to say. We ended up leaving without a stroller or socks that day but I compensated for that in the following 3.5 years (see, I do enjoy shopping). Lovely post!


  11. Great post! My only thought was, “Don’t surrender to the social pressure to buy a million things for your newborn!” I’ve learned that most of those things, gadgets, seats, towels, outfits, squeaky toys, whatever, are completely unnecessary… Crib, stroller, carrier, few cloths, and a ton of burp cloths and you’re good to go! Good luck with everything. it sure is a reality shift but I’m sure you’ll do great.


  12. Hey, we’re back in business. Yeah, don’t get confused and put a leash on Baby. Idea: Have Joyce and Roopa and Roopa’s mother help give the baby shower; you’ll get lots more presents, and it’ll be fun to see Anne paint dots on her face and leap over garlands and say mantras to a bowl filled with dal and tapioca… Have fun!


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