Dear People of Facebook,
I’ve long enjoyed seeing your updates, sharing both the exciting and dubious stuff going on in my life, boasting about my kids, and getting answers to pressing questions such as, “Where’s the best tuna melt in town?” But in recent months, I’ve gotten some unexpected help from you that’s made my life easier — and I’m eternally grateful for it.
It started with my pregnancy. It’s been ten years since the birth of our last child, and we had hardly any baby gear left over, other than a highchair and a bunch of outfits I saved. One day, I heard about a local Facebook swap group started by two moms, where people can post stuff (both new and gently used) they’re selling at reasonable prices or giving away. I checked it out — 10,000 members strong! — and found someone offering to sell a bunch of maternity clothes. The next day, I stopped by the woman’s house. We chatted as I sorted through a pile of pants, shirts, and dresses. We’d both had challenges with our first children’s births, and we bonded over the NICU traumas we’d endured. I left with the warm fuzzies and an armload of clothing.
And so began my maternity wear tour. I hit up six other homes in my neighborhood, meeting some really cool women and getting amazing bargains in the process. Next up: baby clothing. This time around, I looked at listings, but I also posted on the “Swap ISO” (In Search Of) board that I was in the market. One mom offered to sell me her son’s entire winter wardrobe (my boy’s due in October). She was lovely and had the most amazing taste in clothing … all for a buck apiece. I also got baby bunting from her and a lesson in swaddling, and she tossed in the cutest newborn moccasins for free.
I fully stocked up on clothing that the baby would need. Meanwhile, I also started gathering gear for the first year and beyond — people posted everything from cribs to car seat toys. Some would just leave things on their porches and I’d put an envelope with cash in their mailboxes, but often I’d meet up with people. I snagged a padded shopping cart seat for $3 from one mom, along with a lively conversation about the perils of shopping with kids in tow. I picked up a stand-and-play learning table for $5 from a dad, plus some excellent advice on strollers. One super sweet mom offered me a cup of tea after I paid $10 for a practically new play mat. We talked about kids, our neighborhood, and how we managed to grow up just fine without most of the baby gear that exists today.
Things just kept getting better. Pals would spot stuff for sale and message me to make sure I’d seen the posts. I even gave away some items I found during a purge, including a baby album, a diaper bag I’d never used, and a bunch of infant girl clothing I handed off to a mom in need.
As great as it was to get all the baby goods I needed for a fraction of their regular price, it felt even better knowing there is a community out there willing to share the wealth. Yes, people were making money off stuff they no longer needed. And to be sure, it’s an eco-friendly enterprise — reusing and recycling is good for Mother Earth. Still, the caring and warmth I encountered along the way was heartening and comforting. I’m surrounded by a village of moms and dads who, like me, want what’s best for our little ones, are trying to keep the high costs of raising kids in check, and enjoy talking about our parenthood journeys.
I’m all set to have this baby now, thanks to the Facebook swap group. Oh, and if you’re in the market for some gently used baby gear, check back with me in a year.