Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
So I’m planning my friend Cathy’s baby shower.
At the ripe age of 40 you would think I would know all about baby showers and babies and motherhood. Like, I should probably know what a boppy is or where to buy a Bella Band. I should probably know about breast pumps or nursing bras or suggestions for what to do about “leaky boobs,” but I don’t.
It’s not like I haven’t been around little kids or babies. I have been to Carbondale, hello. There are quite possibly more babies than dogs down there. I have sat in playrooms in the midst of all these little creatures with their big, curious eyeballs and rocky balance and fuzzy heads and I am perfectly fine. When they cry and scream I only cringe and get really tense for like 10, maybe 30 seconds but that’s it. When they stink because they have a “poopy diaper” I can totally deal with it as long as the mom whisks them off and changes them in another room where I don’t have to watch.
So, you see, I do have some experience with babies. It’s just that not that many people in Aspen have them. (Of course I haven’t forgotten about you, Jennifer, Jamie, Naomi … I still love you! It’s just that I haven’t really seen you since your babies were born).
What’s really funny, though, is Cathy’s the first one in her group of friends to get knocked up, and she’s 37 and at least half of us are older than she is. These are all Aspen locals, people who have made a definitive choice in terms of what they’re willing to sacrifice for a good powder day. It’s sick, but true.
Cathy is at the head of that pack. She actually went so far as to plan her efforts to get pregnant around the ski season. Obviously no one gave her the memo that it’s supposed to be difficult to conceive after 35, that it could take months if not years of trying, or that it could require drugs or expensive fertility treatments. No, she just woke up one day, looked at a calendar and figured out if she was able to conceive in late December she’d still be able to ski all season and give birth in time to recover and recruit enough baby-sitters for the following season. She and her husband approached it the same way they would any other expedition, with what some might consider a rather demented competitive streak, but it worked. Within two months she was with Bun in Oven, right on schedule.
So suddenly she found herself with nine months to ponder how motherhood is going to fit into her Aspen lifestyle, what, with all the outdoor activities and work and a busy social calendar. She certainly didn’t let pregnancy get in the way of any of that. She skied every day and hiked the Bowl all the time and still had to wait for me at the top. One day I called her when she was in the midst of a bout of morning sickness, all hoarse and haggard and she’s like, “I’ll be fine. I just ate some bad spaghetti. I can meet you at the top of the gondola in like 20.”
I’m like, “Do you even know how to rest? Like, lie down on the couch and watch TV? Oh, and I’m pretty sure spaghetti doesn’t go bad.”
She goes, “I don’t watch TV.”
When we were talking about her registry she said, “Can’t we just ask people to donate baby-sitting time? I mean, I think it would be so cool if my kid could be raised by the whole community! You know, all the interesting people who are part of it.”
I’m picturing Roller Benny cruising down the Rio Grande Trail with her baby strapped to his chest, but I don’t argue. I just say, “I’m pretty sure you’re gonna need other stuff, like bottles and diapers and whatnot.”
She kind of teared up a little bit, which she’s been doing a lot lately and goes, “Oh my god. What have we done?”
Don’t let me give you the wrong impression – she’s going to be a great mom. She’s one of the strongest, most clear-headed, rational people I know, at least until it starts snowing. She’s due in September, so the baby will get at least a few months of her time before she starts pawning it off on “the community” to take care of the little rugrat while she goes skiing.
So I’m planning the shower, which is sort of like the blind leading the blind since I don’t know much more than she does. All I can think about is her bridal shower/bachelorette party she had before her wedding in which said group of late 30- and 40-somethings went on a hut trip and ate mushrooms, got naked, and drank all day and all night.
That got me to thinking about what kind of mom I’d be. I mean, surely I wasn’t a very good mother to my dog. He had a criminal record and was on anti-depressant medication by the time he was 6 years old. He mauled a dog, killed a cat and did more property damage than Hurricane Katrina.
I can’t even imagine the whole selfless, no-sleep thing. I’m still spending my life drinking on Saturday afternoons and sleeping in until 10 on Sundays and only getting out of bed because the dog woke us up when he was whining to be let out to pee.
My mom always teases me. She goes, “You’re going to be like, ‘oops, I left the baby in the oven again.'” This is coming from a woman who refused to breastfeed. “I’m not a cow,” she’d said.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how our little Aspen baby shower will be. I just hope the girls remember to bring bottles for the baby, too.
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