Monday, December 13, 2010

Consumed by the Crib

Hello everyone! This was a peice that I wrote for my writing class, topic 'obsessions' it is timely I thought I would also post it here. Enjoy my silliness!

Consumed by the Crib

I have a thing for cribs right now. This is perhaps not surprising as I am 8 and a half months pregnant: a crib will likely come in handy once the baby comes. But to be perfectly honest, the way I’m feeling about the crib is only partly to do with practicality. Rather, it’s emotional. It’s obsessive. Like the dress for the wedding day, or the first piece of grown up furniture, this crib is bearing an importance beyond its simple function.

I’ve gotten like this before. For example, it took me 3 years to choose a new couch. Three years. It was a big purchase and an expensive one, so anyone would take it pretty seriously, but I went beyond the pale. To be fair, there were practical considerations: there was a budget that was larger than any I had had before but still, a budget. We had a small house, so space had to be considered. My husband is big and I am not, so scale and comfort were also a factor. And then there was aesthetics: did I want a modern and edgy look, or traditional? So many choices, so many decisions…I shopped around, talked to designers, hemmed and hawed for years before settling on a chocolate brown leather piece that is comfortable and attractive. I’ve never regretted that purchase, nor the time it took to make it. It has given me (and my derriere) years of pleasure.

It’s the same for the crib. We live in a small apartment, so the baby must share our sleeping space, a common situation in Europe. As we’ll be living here for the next 3-5 years, the crib must also grow with the child, meaning we need a convertible crib (which the French more romantically call a ‘lit evolutif’) which are less available and more expensive. For the same reason, it also must be sturdy and of good quality, hence MDF is out. And then there is the all important aesthetics: after all, it’s also gotta look good! In Canada, a crib that ticks all the boxes can be had for about $200…..I was aghast to find that a similar crib in Paris is closer to 700 euros! And so, the quest has been on.

This quest has so far spanned 3 countries (Canada, France and England) involved countless friends (who either listened or offered to ship the damn thing to me, probably just to shut me up), countless baby furniture stores (where I must communicate in French, always an extra hurdle), one very patient girlfriend (who has joined me on my Parisian quest) and a completely fed up husband who DOES NOT want to talk about the crib anymore!!!

It appears I am not alone in being obsessional (is this a word?) in regards to baby stuff. A friend who is also pregnant is similarly consumed with the purchase of a buggy…I recognize the hysteria in her eye. Another friend admitted to complete germaphobia when her baby was small, and insisted that anyone entering the house must wash their hands before they could set them on her precious. This lasted until the baby was old enough to stick everything into her mouth, at which point my friend realized her obsession with cleanliness was probably a complete waste of time. Another friend burst into tears over hand me down furniture that didn’t match (and which her long suffering husband calmly painted white) and another was so besotted with minimalism that she eschewed most items that parents feel they must have, including a crib (she opted for co-sleeping instead, which is starting to have its appeal for me!). However in her case her obsession worked in her favor, and she continues to be grateful for all she did not buy.

Although I envy my minimalist friend her Zen (not to mention feeling somewhat silly and materialistic compared to her) she forces me to consider this point: what is it about the ‘stuff’ that makes new parents crazy? Babies have been born for generations, and most thrived quite well without a Exersaucer or jiggly chair. Most folks would blame consumerism for this trend; step into any Babies R Us and you would see that they mean. However, as a long time obsessionist (again, is this a word?) I think it is not as simple as this. After all, I am a sane (normally) reasonable girl who has never been a slave to trends nor swooned at the sight of the latest gadget. My previous obsessions were not about the ‘stuff’ but something else. I think back to things that previously consumed me: wedding shoes? It was really about wanting to feel like a princess on my wedding day. Leather couch? It was about the feeling of comfort that I wanted for our home. And, so the crib? Maybe, just maybe, it’s about wanting certain things for my child. About wanting to show him that life is not about instant gratification but that good things are worth waiting for; or about wanting him to be able to bounce off his bed in the morning without worrying that it will fall apart; wanting us to be able to cuddle in it together for story time and be sure that it will bear the weight of the two of us snuggled down. Sure I still want the crib to look good (after all, I will be forced to look at it every morning for a long time!) but that look is the back drop for the life I envision us having together. As I see it, my current crib consumption is a way of getting ready for my son, for thinking about him, for having dreams for him.

And so, the search continues………