The baby industry in the United States is, not surprisingly, a multi-million dollar industry, and I have made my small contribution to this in recent months as the process of nesting in my home has intensified. I went online to try and figure out the essentials for preparing a home for the arrival of this bundle of joy, and lo and behold, everything is presented to me as an essential. Positive reviews raved, “I couldn’t live without this!” “A must-have for every new mom!” “I wish I had this with my first child!” We are a country obsessed with our things and all the good we believe they will do for us. It’s hard not to get sucked in, to not believe all the hype about the newest developmental toy that will surely launch my child straight into Harvard.
I am grateful for every gift and gadget that our generous friends have given to us. I truly am. I am grateful to be able to afford extras of certain items so that I am not doing endless laundry just because I’ve refused to buy more than one of anything. I am grateful for the first-world luxuries and conveniences afforded to me and my baby, which will hopefully give me one more minute here and there of precious sleep. I understand that living – surviving – as a mother in the 21st century here in Los Angeles, CA is vastly different than living as a mother in a small, quiet village in a developing country.
But I remain unconvinced that my baby actually needs everything the Los Angeles marketplace has to offer her. Amazon.com is endless but her needs are not. I personally certainly do not remember the way my nursery was decorated when I was a wee one, three, six months old. (Was it even decorated at all?) I remember the one little brown towel that I wanted more than any other item in my toy box. And I remember surviving and moving on with life when even that most precious security blanket got lost on a family vacation. I think I turned out ok.
I want my baby to grow up in a home marked by simplicity and contentment with the things we have. Freedom from the need to keep up with the Joneses. I want her to learn about the world such that she is able to distinguish between a first-world problem and a third-world problem at a young age, both externally and internally. She may be raised in Los Angeles, but I don’t want Los Angeles to raise her. I want her to understand that we live in a rather privileged pocket of a very broken world, to know that what God gives to us is meant not to be boasted in, but to be shared. The ads, the peer pressure, the internal insecurities, they will come at her from all angles. But how I pray for a life of joyful freedom for her and for our home. So free me first, God. Free me too.