September 29, 2012 at 8:00 PM
Elders, be jealous: How tech makes early parenthood feel like cheating
About five minutes after I had pushed my baby to the park in his stroller, I realized: I just pushed a BABY to the PARK in a STROLLER.
Two months in, nothing’s changed. Being a mom is still crazy.
“It’s a fundamental identity shift, and it hits you hard,” Adriana Gil Miner told me minutes after her 2-year-old toddled up to me at View Ridge Playfield.
No kidding. But technologically, at least, things have been easy. Mom says she’s jealous, and I can’t blame her.
Tech is making parts of early parenthood feel damn near like cheating.
Case in point: A week after Julian was born in late July, the doula who assisted us in labor visited for a much-needed check-in. When we were done, I handed my husband, who had been listening in from behind his iPad, a list of her recommended bottles, books and supplies. “Don’t need it,” he said, turning off the screen. “I already bought them.”
Within days, the packages came — and kept coming. Diapers were disappearing. I needed nursing nightgowns. The My Brest Friend nursing pillow, despite the name, was looking less and less ridiculous. But no worries. Thing after baby thing arrived as ordered — and with free shipping to boot — all thanks to Amazon Prime. When the best-selling rocker it had taken Jason moments to pick out showed up at our doorstep, I shook my head.
New parents used to have to leave the house for stuff. How is this even fair?
Speaking of friends with babies, I have more than I knew. I didn’t seek them out. They didn’t seek me out. But Facebook conspired to connect us. The site, in its creepy algorithmic brilliance, knows if you’re cooking up something big, like a baby (weekly photos of my bulging belly probably tipped them off) and serves up content to match. Baby news from people I barely knew or hadn’t heard from in years began to top my feed, and suddenly I had role models, sympathizers, advisers and much-needed guides to the family side of more-dogs-than-kids Seattle.
It’s thanks to them that I learned the Wedgwood Ale House has a family dining room, it’s easier to check the stroller than take it through the Sea-Tac airport and, though Seattle municipal code says you should scrape off and flush baby’s poo before tossing the diaper, the police have bigger, less-smelly laws to enforce.
When the smells, the cries and the laundry get overwhelming, it’s nice to know that Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo and Amazon Instant Video keep us a click away from escapist entertainment on our own terms and on our own schedule. More than a few late-night nursing sessions lasted at least 48 minutes, not because baby was taking his time, but because mom couldn’t possibly pause in the middle of “Breaking Bad.”
Meeting the family demand for photos and videos of Julian is as quick as an upload from a smartphone whenever and wherever he decides to be adorable. Timing his feedings? There’s an app for that (actually, several). And answering my parents’ incessant questions about how he’s doing, how he’s growing, and if he’s still looking a little too skinny (he’s not, mom, he never was) is a lot easier, too, when they can see him for themselves on FaceTime or Skype.
Except when they can’t.
Text from mom: “Can you Face Time?” Text from me: “No, but I can call.” Text from mom: “Call when you can FaceTime.”
Of course, there’s lots of room for improvement. Entrepreneurs, this is my official request for a universal cry translator, an extra set of arms and a foolproof 5-second baby soother. You figure it out.
In the meantime, I’ll stream a movie, order more onesies and see how many diapers I change before it sinks in that that wonderful bundle of human is really, truly my son.
Take your time. This could be a while.
Mónica Guzmán’s column appears in Sunday’s Seattle Times. Got a story about living with technology in the Northwest? Send her an email, follow her on Twitter @moniguzman or subscribe to her on Facebook.