REGISTER MY FRUSTRATION
The two times Chris and I have come the closest to divorce would be the time we registered for our wedding and the time we registered for our first baby. Hands down, they were awful experiences. Come close and let me tell you the tale of how NOT to register for a newborn baby. Learn from my mistakes, people. Trust me.
In both cases, the bottom-line reason that the registry was such a fiasco was because I didn’t include Chris in preparing for the registry. When you register for an event, you usually put a fair amount of research into what you’re going to register for. At least, I do. This was especially true for baby things because a) I didn’t know anything about them and b) I wanted to make sure I had the best and safest choices out there.
But when I was doing the actual research and prep work before the day we went to register, I never really included Chris. I’d search online at work (let’s pause to appreciate the days when I had an office with a door and could occasionally surf the internet…sigh…), I’d chat with girlfriends about what products they used, I’d look up consumer reports at night. But hardly ever did I get Chris involved in this part.
Now, I do have to say that I did TRY at first to get him involved. I’d tell him about a product line or a particular style or brand I liked, but his first question was always “How much is it?” and then he’d shut down after the answer. Which made me mad because he was “putting a price on our baby.” (I think I actually yelled that phrase to him one night when I was pregnant with Bean.) He took all the fun out of preparing, and so I just stopped talking to him about it.
When the day came to register, I’ll never forget the colossal fight we had in Babies R Us, while my parents and sister stood there awkwardly trying not to listen, and I pointed my scanner gun straight at Chris’s man parts. I was in tears, Chris was angry, we were both not yelling as much as possible because we didn’t want to make a scene. But it was clearly a scene. I was eight months pregnant. Everywhere I went I made a scene. The source of the problem? The stroller.
I had done so much research about what kind of stroller I wanted to get, and had finally decided that I really wanted a travel system (the ones with the car seat that snaps into the stroller). I thought it would be easiest with a newborn and for me to operate on my own while I was out on maternity leave and Chris was at work.
But when I went to scan the travel system I wanted, Chris kind of sighed heavily. “What’s wrong?” I asked, fully prepared to compromise. He could choose any color he wanted. “I’m just not sure about the travel system,” he said. “I don’t think we need one.” “You don’t think we need one?” I asked with a tone that might as well have said, “Are you stupid????” “I mean, I just think it’s a little over the top.” “You think it’s over the top?” I asked in a tone that now said, “I cannot believe I married someone who doesn’t want a travel system.” “Well, yeah,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t think we need that much stuff.” “You don’t think we need this much stuff?” I asked in a tone that screamed, “It is a crime to humanity that I am about to procreate with you.”
Then, I think Chris threw in a “Don’t talk to me in that tone” and I threw out a “I can’t believe you’re ruining this for me,” and before we knew it, I was crying in the stroller aisle and Chris was stalking off toward the layette section to cool off.
Looking back, the problem was that I went into the registry experience knowing exactly what I wanted and Chris went into the experience not knowing anything about what he wanted. The result was Chris feeling super frustrated that he wasn’t even able to figure stuff out on his own, and I felt incredibly angry that I’d done months of research only to have it all overruled by someone who didn’t even know what a bassinet was.
Now, I know a lot of couples who never had this problem. The husband was on board and anxious to be involved from the beginning and the wife was excited to have his input. But for me and Chris, it was different. Chris was really nervous and hesitant about having a baby and so he was very standoffish. And instead of helping him feel more comfortable, I just took it as a green light to do whatever I wanted. If I did it all over again, I’d go back to the times when I’d start to talk to Chris about what type of pack ‘n’ play we should get and I’d take him to the baby store to look.
Chris (and men in general) are visual people. Chris likes to see things for himself. He wants to try them out and test things. He doesn’t want to just show up and choose something because someone told him to. When he was buying a lawn mower a couple summers ago, he went to Sears five or six times before he actually made a purchase. He just needs to see things in real life before committing.
Baby gear should have been no different. Even when he was uncomfortable, I should have pushed him a little and exposed him to all our choices in real life, not in some link in an email that he probably didn’t even open.
Another thing I should have done was be more open to his questions. When he asked questions like “How much does that cost?” or “Are you sure we need that?” I took them as a sign that he didn’t want to be involved. Like he was using these questions to prove me wrong or make a statement. But looking back, I really just think he asked those questions because that’s how his mind thinks. He just thinks in logistics. He does that whether we are buying a car or taking a vacation or registering for a baby. His mind functions very pragmatically while mine functions more emotionally.
So, when he asked those questions, they weren’t a personal attack against me or against our baby (as I kept insisting he was doing). They were very real questions that he was having, and that means that I should have stopped to talk through the answers with him. I think that would have made him feel more comfortable instead of feeling like he was always asking the wrong questions and, therefore, always left out of the process before we even began.
Registering for a baby is actually a super sweet, super fun time. Or so I hear. I really wish I had wised up a bit before we went through the process so that I was more prepared to help Chris be part of the process, too. For the record, we still have our travel system, we still love using it, and Chris tells me all the time what a great purchase that was. Not that it matters to me…But I was right. In case anyone cares.
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