Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wants vs. Needs

[Today’s post is written by guest blogger Leslie.]
Sometimes life puts me in situations that cause me to remember what I knew all along—that love, food, shelter, and clothing are the only real essentials.  Sometimes I am reminded of this when I read about survivors of natural disasters.  When people are escaping with only the clothes on their backs, they aren’t wondering when they are going to get a new TV; they are concerned with only the most basic needs.
              Of course, human nature being what it is, once those basic needs are covered, chances are we are going to start wishing for more, especially if we have been used to having more.  Here’s where newborn babies have an advantage over the rest of us; for them, wants and needs are exactly the same.  And those needs are simple and few—to be loved, to be fed, and to be safe and warm.
              For a while after my daughter, Lorelei, was born, there were stacks of magazines around my house that I hadn’t had time to go through.  Finally reading one of them—devoted to the equipment “needed” for a newborn—and making a trip to Babies ‘R’ Us to look at baby gates made me consider the role consumerism may play in the abortion decision.
              The magazine (a thinly-veiled advertisement, actually) informed expectant mothers of all the things they simply could not be without.  For example, the writers claimed you would want a “station” for the baby in every room in which you would be spending some time:  a crib in the baby’s room, a bassinet in your room, a playpen (let’s call it what it is, not by its modern euphemism “play yard”) in the family room, a bouncy seat in the kitchen.  I’m thinking as I’m reading, Why not hold the baby?
              My trip to the baby store cracked me up, frankly.  There I found strollers, now known as “travel systems,” that cost well over $200, have “designer” labels, and match diaper bags, high chairs, and bedding—and of course, you must have them all!  High-end car seats come with cup holders and more, costing nearly as much as the strollers and making you feel like a negligent parent if you opt for the $40 model, which meets all federal safety requirements.  Baby stores even try to find a way to make money from one of the truly superior free things in life, human milk, by insinuating that all nursing mothers need expensive breast pumps, fancy bottles for expressed milk, and special clothes and shawls to nurse “discreetly.”
              I imagine a frightened pregnant girl, without much money or support, picking up one of these magazines or walking through the baby store, wondering what she is going to do.  She is probably already wondering what kind of mother she is going to be, how she can afford to take care of a baby, what kind of life she will be able to provide.  Society’s message is that having a baby is an expensive proposition, that her baby will be deprived if she can’t afford to give him all these things.  I can see her buying into the concept of “compassionate abortion”:  it would be selfish to give birth to this baby when I can’t provide it with the kind of life it ought to have.
              I like to think I’ve learned a few things after having five babies.  You’d think by this time I would have accumulated lots of equipment; actually, I keep getting rid of it.  For the way we parent, we don’t need it.  With five kids, we’d rather have the space.
              Anyone who knows Lorelei can attest that she is the happiest, healthiest baby you could ever hope to see.  She sleeps in bed with us; she doesn’t even have a crib, let alone a nursery.  Her car seat is the cheapest one that meets safety requirements.  She doesn’t have a “travel system.”  For now we carry her or wear her in a sling; at some point we will buy a $20 foldable stroller.  She wears good old-fashioned cloth diapers with pins and plastic pants.
              There’s nothing inherently wrong in having a decorated nursery and every bit of equipment under the sun if you can afford it and it makes you happy.  But I wish there was some way to assure expectant mothers that it isn’t necessary.
              Babies don’t care what the nursery looks like; they just want to be near Mommy.  Mommy has what baby needs:  warmth, love, and milk.  And those are things even a young, low-income mother can provide.


Leslie said...

Thank you for letting me chime in here! I look forward to any comments.

KSchimmel said...

I must agree with you. As a mother of 6 who has worked in my church nursery for over 17 years, I have noticed that the experienced moms bring the lightest diaper bags. We joke about the "1st time mommy" bags that contain enough provisions for a hurricane evacuation.

If I had my way, I'd shred every "parenting" magazine in every doctor's office in America! said...

Thank *you* for submitting the post. Glad to have your thoughts. Just remember: don't feed the trolls. :) We have a few of them on this blog.

PennieS said...

Behind every "compassionate abortion" is a selfish or ashamed person. Killing is never out of compassion.

Leslie said...

People are complicated and motives are mixed. I can't read minds or hearts, and I do think there are women who have at the very least convinced themselves that what they are doing is better for the child than allowing it to be born, as twisted as that sounds.

M said...

Well put, Leslie.

Blesski SavingBabies said...

As a Catholic, Prolifer and Attachment Parenter of 2- I agree with you 110%. This Baby wearing, co-sleeping, nursing mama said this(your blog) to people in the past and they were like: "well, college costs money!"

For the scared, at risk moms there are free carseats available from the local police stations. I know this is a Secular site so I hope you welcome this bit of info. Catholic Charities gives TONS of stuff and resources and services, they are in invaluable source in our society and communities. Many Crisis Pregnancy Centers offer most everything a scared mom needs as well.

There is also a National hotline: 1-800-848 Love for at risk, scared moms--the hotline will hook them up with anything they need.

You are so right, if monies were spent on helping the moms and babies and not on funding abortions, embryonic/fetal cell research we could probably fix the "system."

Diane said...

Really interesting post!

You know what this reminded me of? (This is a tangent, but loosely related.) I am a college educated woman, with a stable life, and a husband who earns a good income. Yet I have nonetheless always been terrified of the demands of parenting, and have, as a result, never had a baby, despite having a desire to be a parent. Sure, the costs of the supposed material "needs" have scared me, as you have discussed here. But even more than that, the modern-day "requirement" for parents to hover and revolve around their children, at all costs, terrifies me and goes against my internal instincts.

Recently, however, I've been hearing more about how many feel that making the child "king" of the household isn't a requirement for good parenting at all, and may actually be rather detrimental to raising children well, because it does not create a balanced family life and teach children the very essential basic social skills and life skills that help them to reach their desired goals later in life.

Books on French parenting, such as Bringing up Bebe (Pamela Druckerman) have been leading me just recently to think things such as, "Wow, maybe I really could be a good mom!" and "Maybe my gut feeling has been right, and all this hovering and out-of-whack anxiety are not required of me, at all, in order to be a parent".

It has been very confusing, though, with so many examples around me of parents who are over-the-top with their hovering, worrying, and reluctance to set limits and teach life skills. All served up with what seems like a never-ending side order of guilt! I think this has been made to seem like a "normal" and required component of parenting, however. At least in some societal segments.

Sorry that I've gone off an a tangent to what you wrote. But maybe this is at least kinda related to the overall idea of fearing that we might not be able to provide what a baby would need? When really, when you think about it, what they need is really pretty straightforward and basic!

Does this make sense?

Anonymous said...

I wrote a long, thoughtful reply to this--and erased it by accident, doggone it! But yes, it makes plenty of sense. And I'm going to blog on my own site more about some of that. For now, you should check out Free Range Parenting and see what happens if you google "benign neglect." That's the opposite of helicopter parenting (what you are describing above) and in my opinion a natural outgrowth of attachment parenting, which is truly easier than typical cultural parenting, at least in my experience.


In other news:

Police in Forth Worth, Texas, said they were searching for a suspect who tossed two firebombs outside the door of a state senator's office Tuesday.

Two members of state Sen. Wendy Davis' staff were in the office when the attack occurred about 4 p.m., WFAA-TV, Dallas/Fort Worth, reported. One of the employees jumped over flames to get to a fire extinguisher in another room, the TV station said.

Davis, a Democrat, played a high-profile role last week in arguing against plans by Texas state officials to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, saying such a move could deprive 130,000 Texas women of healthcare services including cancer screening and contraception, WFAA-TV said.

Let's talk about the "compassionate firebombings" that the secularprolife has yet to denounce on thier website.

Anonymous said...

Get some condoms, breeders.

xalisae said...

Just because of that statement, I will be having 4 more children.

Pervis Dirtpipe said...

You gotta get him really drunk first.