Monday, May 30, 2016

Mother of Inventions

A couple of things happen when you wait until you're 35 to have a baby. 

First of all, for nine months (through eight OB/GYN visits, three ultrasounds, one amniocentesis and an unforgettable stay in the birthing center) you get to see a big orange sticker on your folder that reads "Advanced Maternal Age."

Second, since most of your friends have already been there, done that, you get great advice.

"You have to ask for a Diaper Genie," we were told prior to my baby shower. We heard this over and over, from mother after mother (except for the one mother who assumed we would eschew disposable landfill-fillers and sign up for an organic diaper delivery service like she did ... um, not).

Diaper Genies were news to us. What an amazing invention! Manufactured by Playtex, it was a tall thin, lidded pail that you line with a long, thin tube of plastic. You put a used diaper in, shut it, twist it, then repeat as long as your baby is producing used diapers and until the pail is full. A few extra twists and the whole thing can be removed, so you can start over. The byproduct of all this diaper disposing and twisting is a long string of plastic wrapped diapers, sort of like an old-fashioned string of sausages. 

The upside is no mess and no fuss and, most important, no smell.

The downside, of course (just ask the aforementioned friend), is that you take something that's basically bad for the environment and encase it in plastic, making it that much badder for the environment.

Um ... guilty as charged.

Other miracles of modern motherhood soon filled our happy home. My Snugli (where "comfort meets cool") gave way to collapsible strollers, melamine dishes, microwave macaroni and cheese, and juice boxes. (What did our moms do without juice boxes?) All of these inventions made motherhood so much easier. And, while my daughter is no longer a baby, a toddler or even a child (she's eighteen, omg!), I still rely on fairly new technology to get through our days together. And, I'm not even talking about smartphones or texts or the GPS system.

This time of year, my two favorite wonders of modernity are: suitcases with wheels and spray-on sunscreen.

In the early 1970s, a gentleman named Bernard Sadow created the first suitcase on wheels, which was sold at Macy's. To this day, the inventive but unfortunate Mr. Sadow doesn't get any money for his brainchild. Nearly twenty years later, a Northwest pilot named Robert Plath updated the design so that cases were rolled upright (Sadow's were rolled flat like a steamer trunk). Originally sold to other airline employees, the "Rollaboard" eventually became the norm we all use today.

Whenever we travel, I marvel at memories of my mother taking three kids and wheel-less luggage to Missouri every summer. (Thank goodness for airport porters and chivalrous fellow passengers.)

The other advance that brings me joy is spray-on sunscreen. Remember that goopy white cream? Ugh! But, my daughter is fair-skinned and easily burned. In fact, after twelve years of horses, she has pretty much perfected the farmer's tan — or in her case, the equestrienne's tan. (She's dark brown below the sleeves of her polo shirts and above the line of her gloves; below her shorts but above her boots.) Each day, before she leaves for the stable, we go out onto the patio. She spreads out her arms and stands in an "X" while I simply spray her with Coppertone Sport SPF 50. What an improvement!

In two and a half months, my daughter will leave for college. I'll send her off with plenty of spray sunscreen in her wheeled luggage. And, I'll look forward to enjoying another mother of an invention.

Our weekly Skype.
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.   


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