Thursday, June 2, 2011

Revealing a Dirty Little Secret

Folks, I'm going to to share a dirty little secret with you. One that the baby stores and design websites don't want you to know....

Are you ready...

Having a perfectly designed/decorated nursery is not the be-all-end-all of parenting. It doesn't make you a good parent any more than not having a magazine worthy nursery makes you a bad parent. There... don't you feel better! I spent so much of my pregnancy stressing over her nursery, bedding sets vs. separates vs. making our own. $600 upholstered rocker vs. $90 Ikea Poang. Wall decals and changing tables and cribs and ahhhh! It about drove me bonkers. As my due date arrived, I realized that we were not going to be able to afford the "dream" nursery I had been designing. And I was devastated. To be totally honest, I felt like a failure as a mother and my baby wasn't even here yet. My daughter didn't have any wall decals, in fact her walls were bare other than one painting a friend had done. Her valence was cattywampas and made by her mom. The changing table was discarded by the previous owner of the house with a fresh coat of spray paint which didn't even take evenly. She had no dresser, no glider, no matching rug, no wall shelves for nick nacks and no nick nacks to put on the non-existent shelves. As silly as it sounds, I remember feeling like I was failing my daughter.

Then my beautiful turtle was born. And she didn't even go in her room for the first couple of weeks! We were so sleep deprived that we spent most of the first week in the bed. We used a puppy pad to change her on our bed or on the ottoman in the living room. Since she was eating around the clock we fixed her bottles in the upstairs bathroom and fed her in the bed or downstairs in the living room. While feeding in the living room we realized that our Ikea chair made for a perfect baby chair so we bought another one for the nursery with money my grandparents sent. A few weeks later I realized that I really missed having a foot stool while I fed her, so I found an awesome storage ottoman at Target for hardly anything (and we had a gift card). As time passed I started spending more and more time in her room with her. The simplicity of it felt comforting. As she became more aware I realized that she liked to stare at the valence when I fed her in her room. So, while at the party store looking for supplies for my friend's baby shower, I found some colorful cheap paper lanterns to hang over her changing table and chair. They became her favorite things in the whole wide world and the joy they bring to her far out way any decorative value.

The nesting instinct is strong, and it's important. Over our evolutionary history those mothers who investing time and energy into creating a safe place for their babies to live were more likely to succeed at getting their genes into the next generation. But like everything else in our consumer driven society, we've taken things to an extreme. Yes having a beautiful nursery is wonderful, and looking at the endless design blogs, shows, and stores is fun, but keep in mind that the most important thing is to provide a clean, safe place for your baby to come home to. Everything else is just gravy. And like every.thing.else. baby related, you won't know what you baby really likes until he or she is here. Looking back, I'm actually glad that we didn't complete our nursery until Lily was here because I feel like I've decorated it around things she likes to look at and seeing the joy on her face when she sees the stuff in her room brings me way more satisfaction than I ever would have gotten from posting our finished nursery online for people to admire.

You know I always have to have a disclaimer anytime I state a strong opinion and this post is no different... This is in no way meant to make anyone feel bad about the way they did things when they were pregnant! If you were lucky enough to have the money (or generous friends and family) to furnish and decorate an award winning nursery then YAY for you! Go forth and have fun!! This is meant more for those of us who don't have the cash (or friends and family with cash), it's meant to put their minds at ease that even if you feel like the nursery is and your worth as a mother rides on your ability to create a magazine worthy nursery, know that you are not alone and that things will feel very different after the baby comes. Or at least they did for me.

The two most important things I've learned in the 3 whole months I've been a mother...

1) You never know exactly what you need until the baby gets here regardless of how much research you do.


2) It's amazing how drastically your perspective can change (for the good) when that amazing little human comes into this world.

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