As first-world luxuries go, here's one bit of modern absurdity that I've actually always seen the point of: the baby planner. Well, to a point:
After all, if we can deputize flowers, chafing dishes and seating charts to someone else, I don't see the contradiction in bringing in expert advice where an actual human being is concerned. And apparently, with all the swag and debate clogging Babies R Us and the blogosphere, sometimes you just need a pro to help cut through the spiels.
Okay, "need" is a relative term. But services like Nest Help, the Chicago baby-planning service profiled today on Breitbart, (and that's one of the less cutesy names out there, trust) seem to serve a function, for those who can afford it. As Melissa Moog, president of - wait for it - the National Baby Planner Association (which, unlike the Catholic League, has members),
We're like wedding planners, but we're helping you prepare for your baby's arrival and all the information and research you have to deal with...to basically reduce the overwhelming feelings of stress and save time so you can spend quality time on what matters to you. If what's important to you is going to birthing classes instead of doing research on car seats, I can do that for you.
Or, as another "baby concierge service" puts it, "Whether you are having your baby the old-fashioned way, adopting, or using a surrogate, we take the labor out of your delivery."
Accordingly, they tell you what you need, find the best products, shop if needed, set up registries and can even interview midwives and nannies. (Things we'd probably want to do ourselves, but to each her own.) The price? $50 to $150 an hour, or "by packages, which can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars." From the planner's perspective, why not? It's a great idea, and clearly a service which, in this world of competitive parenting, people are willing to pay for. As Heather Cabot wrote on the HuffPo,
Big business it is. The book, Parenting, Inc. by Pamela Paul estimates the booming "mom market" nets $1.7 trillion dollars every year. Think of all of those fancy "must-have" strollers, diaper wipe warmers and designer layettes and it isn't difficult to comprehend that figure. After researching their idea for more than a year, the partners discovered that busy moms, especially full-time working mothers seemed willing to pay big bucks to outsource some of the preparation and planning.
The issue, of course, is that the services reinforce the notion that all this stuff is still necessary. They're not opting out of competitive parenting; indeed, they're reinforcing its existence and importance. Says one busy mom-to-be in the article,
A mother today looks a lot different than a mother 15 years ago...She is powerful. She is strong. She is knowledgeable. Women today know it's OK to ask for help. That's a victory for all of us.
Well, but what about the strength to throw off society's absurd expectations that a woman be a supermom? Wouldn't that save just as much time - and money? That said, this whole industry is going to inspire a killer rom-com.