Take a look at that face. It’s true. She really could use a little help with her
complexion. It may be that with all that mothering work she’s been doing she hasn’t had
time to properly wash, rinse, clarify, tone, moisturize, and treat twice a week with mask
made of mud from the Dead Sea.
Thanks should go to Elizabeth Grady – the national chain of facial salons – for nicely
reminding you to scrutinize your Mom for treatable flaws. Not only will she be grateful
for the opportunity to be scrubbed with special soaps, power-steamed, and pampered, she’ll
"love you for it!" The ad says so.
But say she doesn’t appear to need radical intervention from a facial pore
micromangagement specialist. Never fear. She probably has plenty of other flaws that you
could point out to her and then offer to treat with any of the corrective products
available on the market. In one day’s Boston Globe, the wall-to-wall pre-Mother’s Day ads
prompt us to consider an exercise treadmill for Mom, numerous perfumes, wrinkle
treatments, skin-care products, and cell phones that will give her more "free
time." Don’t forget! The more you scrutinize, tweak, and attempt to remedy, the more
she’ll love you!
Why? Because, as the media grind into our consciousnesses everyday, human relationships
positively hinge on purchases. Simple interactions are never good enough. They must be
mediated by products. Moms learn this from very early on in their mothering.
"Don’t cradle your baby in your arms!" the ad seems to say to new mothers.
Put him in "Nature’s Cradle," the $359 mattress that mimics the motion and
sounds of being in the womb. Designed by Infant Advantage, the mattress can be programmed
to rock the baby sideways and up and down, all the while playing heartbeat and whooshing
sounds. The company’s future plans include adding a sound module that could be plugged
into the mattress, featuring lullabies by Mom or bedtime stories by Dad. Should the baby
surface through the womb-like environment of his crib, and actually utter a cry, no need
for tired parents to respond. Not if they’ve included a sound-activated nursery monitor
that plays "Brahms’ Lullaby" when the baby wakes up, or any number of other
gadgets like white noise machines or hypnotizing video screens — all widely available in
stores and through catalogs.
Having made it through the night, the baby and toy product industry wants you to
believe that all the day-time challenges also have purchasable quick fixes. A special
timer shaped like a tooth (that doubles as a toothbrush holder) will run for the "2
and a half minutes pediatric dentists recommend. When the timer rings, the clock face
smiles and it’s time to stop brushing." Another "playful little timer" lets
you record a "personal and positive time-out message" for your child to listen
to when they need — as we all do at times — a little sound-bite of parental guidance.
The clock face’s original disapproving frown gradually turns to a smile to let the child
know the disciplinary moment is over.
Meanwhile, although toddlers all around the world and across history have graduated
from diapers without any help whatsoever from gadgets, there are now a plethora to choose
from. Summer’s All in One Potty includes a slot for reading material and an "I’m
done" button that beeps to signal their accomplishment. USA Today reports that the
Silly Goose company from Evanston, Illinois, concerned about keeping "youngsters from
losing patience and growing cranky on the potty," markets "Piddlers" —
brightly colored, fish-shaped foam targets that "give kids something to aim for
during the toilet training ritual." Biodegradable and flushable, a packet of 10 goes
So let’s get to work. What’s wrong with your Mom? Does she smell bad, for example? It
seems a lot of Moms would benefit from a dab of a very strong smelling solution that costs
about $40 an ounce and is named after a psychatric condition, "Obsession."
Thank goodness we can move right past Mother’s Day with its attention to women’s
inherently flawed bodies and move on to Father’s Day. A "Frontgate" catalog just
arrived in my mailbox. The first page is headlined, "Strong. Handsome.
Dependable," and it features a lovely Dad (whose complexion appears to need no
attention) lying in a lovely hammock. He’s resting there. "The perfect gift for
Dad" is not a treatment plan for all that is wrong with him. Father’s Day is a
refreshing break from Mother’s Day, when we can focus on rest, recreation and leisure time
instead of clogged pores.
Wait! It appears fathers do have a flaw! They pee standing up, and this can sometimes
cause household conflicts. Reading along in the "Frontgate" catalog I see that a
new invention helps resolve the "age-old debate about who’s supposed to put the
toilet seat down." The answer is: no one. "Thanks to the patented HydraGlide
system, this innovative toilet seat automatically lowers itself after remaining upright
for up to two minutes."
Especially for those future dads who will have been raised on colorful fish-shaped
pee-pee targets, and "I’m all done!" buttons, the HydraGlide
toilet-seat-lowering system will remedy the one thing that threatened to take the fun out
of this male body function: Remembering to lower the seat for those pesky girls in the
house whose body functions, sadly, have never been made into exciting games that involve