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Confession: I’m a Baby Shower Cynic

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Confession: I don’t really like baby showers.  I know, I know… as a pregnant woman about to be on the receiving end of many presents, I probably could do with some perspective.  I may not like baby showers, but like the DMV, airport security, and paper towels, they’re something I know we need, something I believe in, and am not willing to do without. They can be kind of boring and kind of annoying, and given the choice of what to do on a Saturday afternoon, I’m the type of girl more likely to be watching sci-fi shows on Netflix than participating in organized arts and crafts or swooning over a diaper cake. But of course, in typical hypocrite fashion, as soon as I got pregnant, I started thinking about mine, and though I may have knocked them from time to time, I’m having one damn it.  

Oh yes, there are plenty of positives to the shower, enough even for a cynic like me to admit, and I’m not just talking about presents.  I like that we’re celebrating a woman at an important moment in her life, preparing her with love and generosity, and welcoming new life into the world. I like that they’re typically female-centric.  I don’t know, maybe it’s the hippie feminist in me, but I just admire any scenario where women actually get to spend time together, practically in secret, and just literally not care about guys for a few hours.  I like that it’s organized for you instead of by you.  As you grow up and out of birthday parties, there are very few events in your life where you’re actually a guest of honor.

The shower can also be a bright spot in the sometimes tedious and painful process of pregnancy.  There is a long list of things I don’t like about being pregnant but getting out of the house to be social, see my family and friends, and eat free food is something I can look forward to.  I like the idea of a ritual and the traditional baby shower has one. The shower follows a simple formula: first eat snacks, then play games, and end by watching a girl open her presents for 45 minutes. This is expected. This is the way. It is known.

In my mom’s day, everybody knew the rules. Everybody knew their role. Everybody knew the expectant mother was supposed to register for gifts, and then everybody was supposed to actually use the registry. Bringing a gift to a shower is almost required… it’s like 90 percent of the point of the shower and opening the gifts takes the majority of the time, but I’ve been to some showers where it seemed like some daredevils didn’t even bother with the expectant mother’s carefully curated baby registry, instead just buying her whatever they wanted to, whether she needed it or not.  My Grandma Edna is rolling over in her grave you guys.

As with a lot of traditions, our modern times have interfered… people don’t know “the rules.” People like doing their own thing. We like coming up with our own plan, hence the trend toward non-traditional showers. I’ve seen very extravagant ones where some serious Pinterest planning had definitely gone down beforehand and the hosts hired a professional photographer. I’ve heard of showers where the guys are invited and everybody has beer and hot dogs (except the pregnant lady) and plays Cards Against Humanity.

Mine will be a bit more traditional. When I sat down with my lovely and generous hosts to plan it out, I requested a few simple things. One, I’m not a big fan of tacky party store decorations, but I also don’t need some overpriced high-maintenance DIY nonsense. I’m much more into some simple balloons and streamers. Also, could we make sure to have some food I could actually eat? A few baby showers I’ve been to didn’t seem to take into consideration the restrictions on pregnant lady diets. I get skeezed out by most finger sandwiches and dips, not knowing what’s in them, how long they’ve been sitting out, whether they’re homemade or from a deli.  It’s a whirlwind in my brain, ok?  Finally I asked that we not play any embarrassing games that my plethora of female relatives over 50 would be uncomfortable playing.

As for everything else, I feel a relaxed sense of excitement. This will probably be the only baby shower I ever have, and my hostesses are being so sweet planning it for me. There are people coming from a long way away to be a part of it, and no matter how it ends up, or how confusing my registry is, I’m choosing to be grateful. How lucky am I? I’m surrounded by good people who want to come together and help celebrate my new daughter and give me a hand with the things I’ll need to raise her.  I can watch Netflix later.

Photo: Leslie Moniot