Now I am part of the demographic I dreaded most, "Moms like Me," instantly identified by the mere extension of my gene pool. Overnight, in the view of some marketers at any rate, I seemingly became one of the cheery, sanitized ladies of television commercials, who are passionate about killing germs, peanut butter, and the thickness of paper towels.
In this world, it's OK to be square, and the staples of cleaning products and easy food preparations are your milieu. You have prepared your whole life for parenthood and calm competence is your defining characteristic. Too bad this is a fairy tale at best, and an insulting presumption at worst. Are "Moms" all just alike, thinking the same way, doing things the same way, wanting the same things? It's a lazy way to classify a much more complex universe.
On the other end of the spectrum, parenthood has, to some extent, become a lot more hip in the past 10 years or so, and an equally daunting form of marketing has arisen out of that trend. Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba are proudly bearing baby bumps on the cover of celebrity magazines and newborns - adopted from foreign nations or otherwise - are virtually fashion accessories.
The trend has given rise to a new level of infant accoutrement competition, fed by those same magazines, which will tell you what kind of crib is all the rage at celebrity baby showers these days. From $1,000 strollers down to $7 facial wipes, it's a kind of consuming insanity.
The truth is that much of the marketing world, whether targeting the hip moms or "Moms like me," do not effectively answer the basic question of what the hell to do with a baby anyway. And those of us who have neither made a hobby out of preparing to be a "Mom" nor the means to buy our way to success in that area, are stuck trying to figure it all out by ourselves - what to buy, how to use it, and how it impacts the health and well-being of a new person.
Strangely, many marketers don't seem to recognize the void. For example, my biggest question before I brought the baby home was, "Where do we put it?" Seriously, if a baby isn't sleeping or eating, where does it hang out? I found out the answer to this seriously vexing question by - naturally - asking other parents.
But marketers also have an opportunity to transcend the product and deal with the essential universe of new parents - and thus foster loyal consumers. Those few that have done so for me have my devotion. Sleep deprived, well meaning, and desperate not to make any mistakes, new parents need tools, not paradigms.