I am a newcomer to the world of all-things baby. And I have quickly found out that there is a societal hazing of sorts for first-time dads in our wide-eyed, semi-panicked state. It is a manipulative and leaching world that pulls on your heartstrings while simultaneously yanking your purse strings. No doubt, a difficult place to be for someone who is trying to make reasonable decisions with a mindset of social justice.
Excessive choices vs. healthy choices
The other day my wife and I walked into a large baby merchandise store in an effort to tryout the essentials, such as car seats, strollers, and of course, the paternal favorite, Baby Bjoerns!
As we strolled up to the stroller area, I first noticed the vast real estate devoted to the one item. Before I could piece together what this might mean for the next 20 minutes, a grinning employee turned the corner and locked eyes on us. Almost as if it happened in slow motion, I watch the young gentleman confidently stride toward me. His grin breaks into a full mouth smile, the light glints off of his moderately white teeth.
I turn to my wife:
one third annoyed already.
He reached us faster than I anticipated, and quickly showed himself to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing (or in this case a car-salesman in baby lamb’s clothing). For the next 30 minutes my wife and I endured the frantic pace of the salesman’s pitch. With dozens of brands, and dozens of models for each brand, we realized that our vast array of choices were an annoyance.
We learned that you need a different stroller for several different occasions. Then the choices began breeding more choices! Some strollers might require different car-seats. And for each car-seat you need a different adapter. “But don’t forget, mom,” you also need fancy attachments for each stroller or car-seat that hold the essentials such as your smart phone and smart water.
Later in the day, I lamented on Facebook about my experience in the world of over-commercialized baby preparation. One of my friends, who raised her four children in the Ugandan countryside simply stated:
“All they need is a blanket and a boob.”
A piercingly poignant piece of wisdom and an anchor of perspective.
The following weekend my wife and I started visiting hospitals to decide where we would want to deliver our baby. The hour-long tour was almost equally as overwhelming, but in a very different way. I was amazed at the choices we have for medical care during the delivery process. Who knew there were so many ways you can safely deliver a baby?!
What should really matter?
With these two experiences juxtaposed, it doesn’t take long to contemplate both the blessings and the responsibility involved with our ability to choose. Every day I hear about the stories of mothers around the world that have far fewer choices when it comes to the raising of their children. Food for the Hungry walks with these mothers to make sure they have the essential medical care and knowledge necessary to raise healthy and hopeful children.
As if you needed more things to think about when you are expecting a child, for me there seems to be a moral balance that needs to be struck. On the one hand, we must protect ourselves from the over-consumption and super-commercialization of pre-natal preparation. Our society gravitates toward the need for more choices, when in fact we probably have too many to begin with.
On the other hand, we are incredibly blessed to be able to decide how to prepare, usher into the world and raise our children. From medical care, to education, to spiritual development, our freedom offers us the ability to make life-changing and Christ-honoring choices about our children.
My hope is that my wife and I make decisions and choices that balance these factors well. We have a moral responsibility to parents around the world to do so, in addition to setting a good example for my daughter whom I can not wait to meet.