A stroller that pushes itself? I sighed as I read the email about the latest crowdfunded gadget. An electric engine will propel the stroller, with sensors keeping it within reach of parents, guiding turns, slowing, and braking.
A robot stroller could come in handy for joggers who don’t want the extra workout of moving their baby along and for parents with a disability. Me, I thought: No, thanks. I adore pushing my newborn, Ben, in his stroller around our neighborhood. Not everything is better automated, although that’s where the world seems to be headed these days.
It’s been 10 years since I had my last kid, and I’m often wowed by the new generation of high-tech baby gear. Forget bouncy seats that merely vibrate; the kind we got sways tots in five different motions, including one that mimics a kangaroo. I still half expect it to lift off the floor and fly around our living room. When Ben naps and I’m in the kitchen, I can adjust the monitor in his room to pan in and out and speak to him. At night, he sleeps with a little smart sock on his foot that tracks his oxygen and heart rate. I’m nursing my baby, but when and if I switch to formula, I can get a machine that instantly dispenses it via pods a lá our coffeemaker.
I’m grateful for advances that keep babies happy and healthy and make moms’ lives easier. With a newborn, I’m not getting out much, and it’s both fun and sanity-saving to scroll through Facebook updates on my phone as I nurse him. And yet, the other day as I was checking out my friends’ latest posts and photos, I glanced away from the screen to Ben and realized he was staring intently up at me.
I had been connecting online instead of with my baby.
There’s a lot to be said about the good, old-fashioned pleasures of parenthood and doing things the no-tech way. Does anyone really need a cry translator app? (Yes, that exists.) How are moms going to learn to sync with their babies if technology is doing it for them? Even if a company came out with an auto-diaper changer, like something in those old Jetson cartoons, I wouldn’t buy it (although I can’t speak for my husband).
It’s a whole lot of work to take care of an infant, but I take pride in knowing that as I dress, feed, diaper, and bathe my son with my own two hands, I’m growing a child and bonding with him in the process, just like my mother did for me and as mothers have done for eons. Giving a baby attention and showing him your love: There’s no app for that.
The best moments of my day are when I’m cuddling with a sleepy Ben in the rocker in his room, the same one I used with my other two kids. I can still recall how great it felt to sit there with them after a long day at work and how sweet they looked in my arms. As Ben and I move back and forth, I feel calm, relaxed, and lucky to have him. I’m betting one of these days someone will invent an auto-rocker, but in parenthood as in life, there are some things you just can’t improve on.More On