The Mother of Invention

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I lack an entrepreneurial spirit. I depend on others to come up with ways to make my life easier. But I wish that weren’t the case. I wish I were cashing in on inventions, especially when it comes to updating gadgets for kids. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said, “I wish they had that when my daughter was born!” I started saying it when she was one-month old and I’ve been saying it ever since. Because on the baby market, products upgrade faster than iPods.

I remember thinking how genius it was when they came out with drying racks for bottles. It was great, except that the drying sticks were all the same length. You put a bottle nipple on the end of one of those spears and it pierces the air like the tip of the Empire State Building. Someone could lose an eye. Then there was the drainage problem. The bottles would drip dry, covering the counter with stagnant water. I made do, of course, because that’s what moms do. I attached red warning flags to the end of the jutting nipples, like when hauling long pieces of lumber in the flatbed of a truck. And I put a towel down to absorb the run off. But as it turns out, not all moms are just making do. Some are making millions, coming up with new products that address the problems I was merely enduring. They now sell a multi-layered, circular drying rack that spins with variable-sized drying spears and a reservoir. In multiple colors.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Bathtub crayons are the newest item on the market that manages to stay just far enough ahead of me that they burn me to the core. The first time I hand scrubbed the crayon from the bathtub wall with a washcloth, I cursed the creators (and I strained my back). Then they came out with a special eraser and I thought, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” Then, after months of snorkeling under the bubbles to retrieve my daughter’s drowned crayon, they came out with a crayon that floats, and I thought, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” THEN, after a year of trying to find a place to store the damn things without making my bathroom looks like a graffiti artist lived there, they came out with a crayon holder that suctions to the side of the tub!

Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll tell you why. I don’t have time to solve the world’s problems. Or, to keep it to scale, I don’t have time to think of new ways to make the mothering life easier. I’m too busy living it. And what does it really matter if my countertop molds from standing water or if I nearly drown retrieving a lost tub crayon? Sometimes I wonder if all these inventions and upgrades aren’t just making our lives more difficult in some way.

How did I ever survive without a wipe warmer? The same way our species has survived for thousands of years: just fine. Cold butt and all. Now I’m not saying that we should go back to the Dark Ages. No child should endure being wiped with a splintery piece of bark or, God forbid, a generic paper towel. But do we really need wipes that are warm, scented, flavored, glow-in-the-dark and in the shape of Mickey Mouse? Do we really need all this stuff to make us feel like we’re good moms?

When I was little, I played for hours in the bathtub with my pets soapy (the bar of soap) and washy (yes, the washcloth). And I turned out all right. Sort of. But the point is, my life would’ve been easier had I never bought the crayons in the first place. And it would have saved me $30 in upgrades.

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