Former Dating Columnist on Other Side of White Picket Fence

BY MELISSA HECKSCHER
Originally Published by the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, 2011

Three years ago I had a dating column in this paper. Today, I’m married, with baby No. 2 on the way.

What happened? I’m not exactly sure. But it happened quickly.

Yesterday I was watching romantic comedies by myself, wondering if my home would ever be graced with pitter-patters that didn’t belong to my cat; today I’m wiping diaper cream off my fingers.

Even more telling: The singles-column me would have spent 45 minutes prepping myself in front of the bathroom mirror before a date. The married me had an entire conversation with my husband the other night while brushing my teeth. Now that’s intimacy.

But it’s all good. I’m happy. A little overwhelmed. A little tired.

But happy.

I’ve got to admit though: It is weird. Me, the girl who never thought she’d be here, is now one of them. I’m now one of those South Bay moms you see at Coffee Bean, clumsily maneuvering her giant stroller through the doorway while her child munches on a Noah’s bagel. I’d say I’m ashamed, but I’m not. It’s a good life. And they’re good bagels.

So as a recent transplant to this side of the White Picket Fence, I feel it’s my duty to translate some things about this world that I didn’t understand before but that are as natural to me now as, say, the crackly sound of my baby monitor as I drift off to sleep.

I’m not planning on writing all of my columns about motherhood, mind you, but as a newly minted member, I felt it only fitting.

First off, what’s up with the BOB? For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the domestic pang of stroller-envy, the BOB is a monstrously strapping jogging stroller that’s the baby-mover-of-choice for seemingly every Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach parent.

You may wonder: Is it that cool? Does it have GPS mapping capabilities and a vibrating seat to calm colicky babies? Does it come with a leather interior or satellite radio?

No. It’s just the trend. And parents tend to trust other parents. So if you’re in the market for a stroller and everyone you ask promotes the BOB like it’s the next Acai berry-style superfruit, you’ll probably end up wanting one, too. (As a side note: I’m, actually, BOB-free.)

Now let’s talk about all those farmers markets. There’s one almost every day of the week in the South Bay, and at every market you’ll find the same thing: Moms, moms, and more moms. What’s the deal? Do Los Angeles women give birth and suddenly acquire an insatiable desire for organic apples and $5 tubs of hummus?

No. The truth is, it’s all in the logistics. Farmers markets offer a healthy supply of finger food (i.e., free samples) to keep our kids busy. Plus, they’re outdoors, which means it’s easy to abandon ship should our offspring decide to have a meltdown.

Once you’ve been five-people deep in line at Ralphs with a suddenly ballistic toddler, you’ll understand; you can’t just slip away, especially when said toddler has already opened three packs of string cheese.

While we’re on the topic of shopping, we know it seems a bit much to line our grocery carts with padded, patterned “grocery cart covers” that just happen to match our babies’ gender. I could say we all got them as baby shower gifts, but we probably didn’t. All I can say is this: The first time you see your infant gnawing on a grocery cart handle, you’ll get it. Yuck.

And what about indoor playgrounds? Don’t we live in Southern California? Isn’t this the sort of climate that makes outdoor playgrounds a year-round luxury? Do we really need to drag our little ones to places like Under the Sea or MyGym while the sun shines gloriously on swing sets and twirly slides everywhere?

This one is tricky. Sure, we don’t need to keep our kids inside, but sometimes it’s just easier to do. As anyone with a kid can tell you: Outdoor playgrounds may as well be active minefields. I can’t tell you how many times my little guy has almost tumbled off a jungle gym or run full-speed toward the street. It’s exhausting shadowing a little person who just learned how to walk and who now only sprints.

Indoor spaces offer confinement. Walls. Safety. We can relax.

And another thing: We apologize for bringing our newborns into cramped sushi restaurants, but after nine months of being forbidden to eat raw fish, we just can’t help it. We need our fix, and we don’t want to tag on an additional $14 an hour to hire a baby-sitter while we dine on $8 spicy tuna rolls. Sorry, Izaka-Ya, I’ve got no other excuses.

I may be new at this, but I’ve settled in nicely. Do I miss my single life? Sometimes. Have I changed? A little. I recently found myself singing the Elmo song to my son at a restaurant in the middle of a busy breakfast hour. I was wearing socks with sandals. My hair was unwashed. My makeup? Nada.

How did I get here? Beats me. But I’ll take it.

© 2011 The Los Angeles Newspaper Group