So I am finally beginning to explore the consumer side of parenthood, and just like the wedding industry, it is grossly overpriced. I was looking for maternity clothes, as I'm finally admitting that I need them, and of course that lead to a rabbit hole of "what other stuff do I need?" online shopping. The overarching theme for middle-class maternity shopping seems to be laden with aspirational thinking and fear mongering. First, in urban areas, there is a distinct competition among parents to provide the very best that money can buy for little Maddie and Ashton. This demonstrates your commitment to perfect parenting all the while keeping up an image of well-to-do. It's love wrapped in dollar bills, my friends. But it's more than just keeping up appearances - it's also guilt. If you do not buy the very best stroller, crib, outfits, etc your child will be doomed to a life of hardship and misery, and rejection letters from Ivy League universities, thus denying said child from ever being anything more than average!
I mock, but even when posting my genuine shock that a stroller can cost as much as many teenagers' first cars (at least where I grew up in the Midwest), not everyone thought that was crazy. Many people offered reasonable alternatives. And one friend with kids mocked it thoroughly and said they were gonna get a shopping cart and call it a day.
So how will I approach this? Likely the same way I approached wedding consumerism (feel free to scroll back two years in blog posts for my thoughts). I spent money on the stuff I loved and didn't conform or spend a killing on stuff I didn't care about. My shoes cost more than my JCrew wedding dress. I ordered flowers for my reception from Costco for a whopping $250 and had my lovely girlfriends put them in jars on the tables. The food and location was a bigger deal for us, so that's where our money went.
We're getting a crib from a friend, I'll probs buy a cool stroller - not a $1000 one, but one with a car seat, since we don't have a car (and no, we aren't buying one. This kid doesn't get a car at birth - I had to buy my own first car when I was 19) and can then put it in cabs, other people's cars, etc. I'm not spending a lot on baby clothes, since squid will double in size the first year. I want her/him warm and cozy, and not dressed in gendered outfits. That's sort of it. Oh, and some stuff for feeding and probably some diapers - we're doing cloth since I prefer natural fibers myself and laundry isn't that hard to deal with. Apparently I need a breast pump, which scares the bejeezus out of me. I truly don't believe that birth needs to be a grand exercise in consumerism, but rather meeting needs and throwing in a few extras. But that's sort of my philosophy on everything. Besides, Squid has grandparents and aunties. It's their job to get the fun extras anyway.