I am extremely fortunate to have fallen in love and married a man with three older sisters. First this was because he is exceptionally understanding of women. I'm sure it's possible to avoid the chauvinism if you weren't raised in a house of females, but I definitely think this helped. Currently, it is because we have three older siblings who are all done with having children and have a lot of mothering advice and a lot of leftover stuff that they are excited to part with. Unfortunately, this last part has resulted in some challenges that I hadn't anticipated.
As C's one sister said this week, "if you don't want to register for anything, you won't need to." This is probably an accurate statement. So far, we've been offered a cradle, crib, jogging stroller, two bedding sets, two cloth diaper sets, a Bumpo seat, a bouncer and "jump-a-roo", two carseats, a Boppy breastfeeding pillow, bottles, and a breast pump. I am probably forgetting things. This is a lot of stuff!
I am so incredibly grateful for all of it and then I simultaneously feel like a stuck-up jerk for not wanting to accept it all and not knowing how to go about turning it down. The issue, that I have a hard time even typing without cringing at how this sounds, is that while all of this stuff is good, it is not necessarily all of the things that C and I would have picked out ourselves. C has been researching strollers and carseats for a while now and has some strong ideas on the brand and type he is interested in, which is not the brand that we are being offered. The crib is a completely different wood and clashes with the other existing furniture in the nursery and the bedding sets are really just not our style.
Plus, there is the fact that we do both have large families and are now having two baby showers and really do need to be able to register for something.
So I'm an asshole and am not accepting every single (free) thing that is being offered by his especially generous family. C and I have both spent many hours talking this out and are, luckily, completely on the same page. We are looking at this in a sort of mathematical, logical sense. We compare the approximate value of something and then weigh that against our style/preference differences, while also taking into account if it would make sense to have more then one of any one thing.
For example, cribs are very expensive and while the wood choice clashes with the other furniture, the cost savings of not having to buy a crib outweighs our style preference. Crib - check! The bedding sets, on the other hand, include a bunch of things that we don't necessarily want or need (bumpers, quilts, etc.) and compared with a few sheet sets and a dust ruffle, our style preference wins out. This way the room will still feel like our own. The jogging stroller is great and while it probably could have been our only stroller, C and I compromised by accepting the jogger but then also registering for an all-purpose stroller with coordinated infant car seat. I'm not sure if the specific cloth diapers or bottles are what we will like, but it probably doesn't hurt to try them out and if we end up preferring different brands then we can always purchase more of those later on.
There are also some complications with who, how, and why things are being offered. C's one sister is completely finished with having children. Their youngest is five and they are content with their three girls. Her offerings are easy to accept. On the other hand, his other sister has four children, with her youngest being three, but would like to have more some day. She is very Catholic and envisions a large family. Unfortunately, her last two pregnancies has also ended in misscarriages. When she has offered things, it has come with an underlying tone of sadness and longing, which results in me feeling guilty.
I have a hard time with saying/doing things that could potentially hurt other people's feelings, even if that means not standing up for my own wants and needs. It's something I need to work on. It has also made some of these conversations very difficult over the past few weeks. Because I am truly grateful for all of the generosity. And because it feels wrong to turn down support of any kind. But also because we need to do what makes us feel comfortable and what is best for our family.