First-time moms-to-be (bless their hearts) have very little idea what they’re doing. So it’s only natural that as their pregnancy unfolds before them, we help provide the best possible start by equipping them with an arsenal of stuff via the tradition that every pregnant woman looks forward to: the baby shower.
Sure, they involve ridiculous games (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve examined a candy bar melted into a diaper or measured a burgeoning baby bump with toilet paper), but they serve a much more important purpose: to convey the wisdom of motherhood from the veteran moms to the newbies, to prepare them for what’s to come. Amid the be-ribboned baskets of baby bath products and snuggly sleeper sets, there’s a message: We are your tribe and we want you to succeed at this.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what happens years later when those newborns cross the confusing threshold into preteen territory? One would think that after a decade of parenting, we’d have it figured out. But no. Because almost as soon as their age hits double digits, there are weird hormonal and behavioral changes that leave moms scratching their heads. It leaves us just as clueless as we were when our “babies” were still cute and sweet — not these newly gangly, sassy-tongued, eye-rolling creatures slouching around the house.
Wouldn’t it be nice to make “post-baby” showers a thing to show (and receive) some much-needed support during this weird transition into teendom? I can think of all kinds of appropriate gifts. For example…
Body Wash and Deodorant
They may not shit themselves any more — thank goodness — but that’s pretty much the only advantage preteens have over infants, smell-wise. Ripening pits and foot stank become an issue. Like the sweetly scented baby powders and shampoos we give at regular showers, a gift of hygiene staples would be much-appreciated by everyone within sniffing distance.
Grocery Store Gift Cards
New moms get all kinds of help feeding their babies: formula coupons, fancy breast pumps with all the supplies, nursing pillows, state-of-the-art bottles. But preteen moms are the ones who really need the feeding assistance because suddenly the kid who’s been living on crumbs and oxygen for 10 or 11 years is now inhaling the contents of the entire pantry before you can finish unloading the groceries. A certificate for food would be an awesome gift for a mom whose food bill is so high she’s contemplating a second mortgage.
Adorable rompers, practical onesies, and teeny-tiny socks — we give moms-to-be clothing by the closetful because babies outgrow things so quickly. But so do preteens, and their clothes aren’t nearly as cheap! Any tween mom would be grateful for a stack of various-sized jeans, so they’re well-prepared when their kid shoots up an inch seemingly overnight.
What do almost all expectant mothers have in common? Stacks of books on how to care for their new babies. But as the kids reach this mysterious new age, there’s just as much to learn — which is why books with titles like What to Expect When You’re Suddenly “Unfair” and “Embarrassing” and Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Sweet Child? would be welcome additions to any preteen parent’s nightstand.
Elementary school homework is relatively simple. But in middle school, it starts getting tricky. Not to mention, the kids start getting more argumentative and stubborn. The answer? A gift certificate for tutoring services, perfect for the mom who has forgotten everything she ever knew about basic algebra, or just doesn’t want to argue with her kid about how she’s “doing it wrong.”
For cranky babies, gripe water and pacifiers and lullaby-singing stuffed animals make the perfect presents. But nothing soothes a cranky tween like a face full of screen. Whether it’s the phone, the computer, the TV, or the tablet, gift cards for downloading songs or movies or games are a boon to moms who have had it up to here with the unpredictable mood swings.
Ibuprofen and Wine
For mom, of course. Because, preteens.
Baby showers are a lovely idea, a great way to help moms-to-be prepare themselves for the sometimes rocky road of raising an infant. But if anybody has a rocky road ahead, it’s the mom whose kid is transitioning from the calm to the storm, i.e., from childhood to the preteen years and beyond. Let’s start a tradition of showering some love and support on new tween moms, because they’re about to learn the hard way that wiping butts and noses was actually the easy part.