My husband and I are (proudly) not ones to give in to the pressure of commercials, we usually laugh at the 'must have's of the day, and never go shoppping without knowing what we want. But somehow with a baby in the house it turned out we did exactly what we thought we'd never do - accumulate mountains of things. This time, however, things we really thoguht we would need...
I looked through all the things we diligently put in boxes and under Antek's cot: there are two (!) playmats, baby mobile, a bouncer... the list goes on. Most of it we got as presents. And yes, we took them out of their boxes, we put them on the floor, we loked at Antek playing on the mat, looking at the baby mobile. I admit - we did it all. Three months down the road we realised we never needed any of it, and are now glad we put it away fairly quickly. I don't want to sound ungrateful for all the wonderful and no doubt thoughtful presents we received - we are incredibly lucky to have so many friends who are sharing with us the joys of raising our son. But I feel for all the newborn parents out there who are led to believe that without ... (here put whatever gimmick comes to mind) their child will not develop properly. So we give in and buy. We fill our babies' worlds with toys more stimulating we ourselves could handle, put them in, on and under things. And this is all because we are told our babies 'need' this to grow, to develop, to ...be? Obviously, the first logical question that comes to mind is - what about all those babies who don't have access to these gadgets? What about all those born before the times of babygyms, playmats, mobiles and bouncers? Well... as I know all to well, newborn mum is not one to think logically at all times.
We had known about the importance of observing a baby that Magda Gerber stresses so much, and tried our best to spend time observing our son. We wanted to get to know him, we wanted to see the unique person that he is, what he enjoys and what he doesn't, we wanted to see how he gets to know us. And soon we realised that all the wonderful things we surrounded him with were, well, in the way. Instead of letting him show us what he likes, we decided (unconsciously, but still) what to put around him, and what he should be looking at. For the first three months of our road to parenthood we believed the advice we heard much to often: he 'needs' this. Now that I again pack all those things to boxes to give them away, I know we will not need them for our second child, when we decide to have one. And I wonder if I should give these things to other parents, but then again - we all make our own decisions.
Today looking at my son playing happily on the floor, choosing what he wants to touch, what he wants to look at and where he wants to roll, I was talking to my brother about the importance of being with oneself. It's an important skill. When we are used to doing things, talking to people, listening to the radio, watching TV, reading, thinking...there's not much time for just being with oneself. I have a chance now - looking at my son as he is discovering the world, uninterrupted, on his own - to see how great it is to just be with oneself. So today when all things were done I took time to remember what it was like to just sit on my own, with my thoughts, staring out of the window on the falling snow - no radio, no talking, nobody asking me to do anything, showing me anything. It was great. I'm so glad I let my son do the same.