Netflix for new parents
I never had such an appreciation for “the little things” in life until I had a brand-new baby in the house. In other words, when you haven’t had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in the last two months, you’ll appreciate anything that makes your life even slightly easier (dry shampoo, Bite Squad gift cards) or that takes your mind off the mounting birth-associated medical bills (Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube).
You can fight back (later)
Let’s face it, gang: Postpartum support is in short supply in this country. No one is guaranteed any paid parental time off; many women don’t even meet the requirements to qualify for unpaid time.
Post-birth hospital stays are short and often force you to “room in” with your baby: You get no sleep and do all the baby care yourself, even though you had a C-section and can’t take a step without holding a pillow over your abdomen.
This calls for serious change: Change you can start advocating for when your baby is 2 years old or more. Seriously, if there’s ever been a time to cultivate indifference and lower the proverbial bar, it’s during the first year of your baby’s life.
You’ll have the rest of your days to get involved and make the world a better place. But right now, your resources are limited.
So, in honor of the one-day-at-a-time slog of early parenthood, I present my fond reminiscences of the TV shows I watched when my kids were tiny babies:
Before I had kids, I didn’t watch much TV. I was too busy reading books, drinking on patios, obsessing about “my purpose in life” and riding my bike to the Hexagon Bar. Therefore, I had never seen The Wire — also known as the best TV show of all time.
The Wire was fascinating, troubling and often very hard to follow in my baby-induced coma. “Wait: Do you have any idea what just happened?” I asked my husband at the end of more than a few episodes.
He was usually just as lost as me. This mutual confusion strengthened our marital bond during a life phase often associated with marital discord. (I hope.) And we knew we had the option to watch it all again when Baby No. 2 came around!
“I tried to watch Mad Men after I had my second baby, but I just couldn’t — it was too depressing!”
My friend said she could watch only lighthearted TV shows when she was caring for a baby. And while I enjoyed my fair share of comedy during the fourth trimester (Arrested Development, The Office, both British and American), there was just something great about brooding dramas filled with tortured characters that made being hooked to a breast pump six times a day more tolerable.
Plus, no matter how dire things get in your own life, you can always just say, “Well, I’m not as bad as [insert any character’s name],” and feel better in an instant.
If you’re raising your baby with a partner, there’s a strong likelihood that you won’t always want to watch the same shows. Such was the case with Twin Peaks. I’m a Twin Peaks obsessive. It aired on prime time while I was in the sixth grade and I totally imprinted on it.
For me, Twin Peaks marks the beginning of my transition from unpopular child outcast to disaffected teen loner; from Debbie Gibson to Nick Cave.
But for my husband, Twin Peaks has negative associations related to cutesy theme parties that happened in abundance at his college. I can respect this. (I have a similar aversion to ER: Every week when I finished my work-study shift at the cafeteria I’d walk in on an ER viewing party in my dorm room and I’d be forced to skulk away).
Therefore, Twin Peaks became my daytime soap opera, my secret indulgence while the spouse was away.
Revolutionary social change can wait until next year.
Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.