the one about giving her the oxygen mask

It's been quiet around here. Well, not around here, where I live, but around here, the blog.

You see, I was held captive by a project I lovingly call "Death by Elsa Dress." In an attempt to stick it to the man (i.e. the Disney Store) and make my own version of the highly coveted Queen Elsa dress from Frozen rather than wait with baited breath for the Disney Store to restock these $50 dresses (only for them surely to sell out within 3 seconds like 'NSync tickets circa 1999), I ended up with quite the project on my hands. It actually all turned out very well, and it only cost me around $30, 42 gray hairs, and 2 bottles of wine. Around here, we call that a victory.

Anyway, all of my brain cells went to gathering Queen Elsa's skirt, and I simply couldn't bring myself to write about anything.

But, alas, here I am. Here you are. Here we are.

I'm killin' it today.

Well, I'm here to talk about babies. I love babies. I love having babies, but I especially love it when my friends have babies. All the fun of a baby (the gifts, the showers, the holding and cuddling), but no real responsibility.

My best friend is having a baby in June, and we just learned on Saturday that she is having a girl! I am so happy because this means that her daughter and my daughters will be best friends. Or they will hate each other, but I'm leaning toward best friends.

I immediately took to Pinterest and started pinning baby shower ideas like crazy. But the thought of a baby shower got me to thinking about baby shower gifts. Oh, the beautiful, thoughtful, utterly useless gifts you get a baby shower.

When I say "utterly useless," I'm not trying to insult anyone. I'm just trying to say that what a new mom (or any mom) really needs is not a bib with the baby's name embroidered on it. Or a ruffly butt diaper cover. Or 36 tubes of that butt paste that people love to pass around and laugh about. Over. And over. And over again.

I'm here to say that what the expectant mother really needs is an oxygen mask.

Stay with me, here.

When I flew in an airplane last summer with my small children, the flight attendant made sure to let me know that if the oxygen masks were to deploy, that I should place the mask over my face first before trying to help my children. This seems against our maternal instincts, but it makes total sense. You must save yourself before you can save anyone else.

In the days following childbirth, a new mother goes through so many ups and downs. She will be overwhelmed with love for her new baby, but she will be overwhelmed. Period. She will instantly feel the need to be Super Woman, not remembering that birthing a child already catapulted her to Super Woman status. She will feel the need to clean her house so that the 17 daily visitors who descend upon her won't see the dirt on the floor, dishes in the sink, or mountain ranges of laundry. She will attempt to make dinner, take a break to feed the baby, and return to find that it is burnt beyond recognition. She will think that 2 days post-partum has been long enough to try on those pre-pregancy jeans (since everyone else on Facebook fit into theirs by that time), and when they don't even come close enough to do the old rubberband-through-the-buttonhole-trick, she will feel awful about herself. She will pray the smell of her perfume masks the stench of dried spit-up on her shoulder, and she will pray her husband could care less that it doesn't.

She will feel sad. And happy! And silly. And angry. And happy! And exhausted.

And she will need you, her friend, to be her oxygen mask.

So, my idea of the perfect baby shower gift would go something like this. Buy her that cute item she's been wanting off her registry, but inside the card, slip her a note.

Dear Friend,

You're soon going to be a new mommy, and I am so thrilled for you. You are going to ROCK this next chapter of your life because you will love this baby with all of your soul. What a lucky kiddo.

I'm here to tell you that everything won't be easy. In fact, most of it won't be easy. And that's ok, because if it were too easy, I'd worry about you. 

Everyone is so excited for you, and you will undoubtedly receive a steady stream of visitors for days on end. As your friend, I promise that I will always call you before I decide to just appear at your doorstep, and if I don't ask you if you'd like me to bring you anything (Starbucks, a soft drink, food) before I arrive (with your permission, a reasonable amount of time later), I give you full authority to punch me in the face. Showing up with a new outfit for the baby is great and all, but showing up without something for you, the life-giver to this child, is just shitty.

When I arrive at your home, if I see that you tried for even 30 seconds to "straighten up" a little, I will punch you in the face. I know that seems a smidge extreme, but you do not need to be cleaning for me. I will not judge the crumbs on your floor, the juice on your table, or the laundry on your couch. 

What I can do, though, is instead of let you toil about what I'm thinking about your (gasp) lived in living room, I will ask you what I can do to help. When you say, "nothing," I will insist that I will not hold that sweet little baby until I have checked at least one thing off your to-do list. Can I unload your dishwasher? Can I put laundry in the dryer? Can I get your dinner started? I promise you that I will not begin folding your laundry unless you specifically ask me to. It always made me feel weird knowing that someone else folded my underwear.

You better give me something to do, or I will stare at you awkwardly until you give in.

Once I have done at least one thing to help you (hopefully more, but some people are funny about receiving help), I will sit down to hold your baby. While I kiss and cuddle your sweet child, that is your cue to go take a shower, take a nap, or get a snack. Even if it is just for 15 minutes, I want you to take some time to yourself. I will be there, with your child, when you get back. 

After you have had some "me" time, then we can have "our" time. I will stay to chat with you as long as you would like, as I know from experience how lonely those first few days can be. But if you think you're done talking and don't know how to ask me to leave, we can come up with a secret code to tell me when time is up. You could cluck like a chicken, lightly pick your right nostril, or start screaming "fire!" Whatever you're good with, and I will be on my way. 

You see, I'm your oxygen mask. I'm here to help you, to support you, to save you, so that you can be better for your child. I won't take no for an answer.

I can't wait to travel this journey with you,
Your Friend




2 comments

  1. I love this! And I strive to be that friend. I really wish I would've gotten a card with something like this. New Mommy's NEED help. Parenting is tough stuff! You are a great friend for writing this! :-)

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  2. i adore this. the letter made me cry, and damn I wish we lived closer because I would love for our girls to be friends!!!!

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