Defending The Baby Shower

by Ali Solomon
Originally Published: 

Please join us for: A celebration!

In honor of: The mom-to-be!

Light lunch will be served.

RSVP to mom/best friend/pushy aunt

Mom-to-be is registered at The Baby Depot and Super-Cute Expensive Baby Boutique.

Like an Easter parade, women of all ages emerge in their pastel floral frocks, toting gift bags with telltale Buy Buy Baby ribbons peeking out. They hug each other a lot, squeal “Congratulations, you guys!” and pretend to be interested as the guest of honor unwraps a towel shaped like a duck. It is a ritualistic call of duty for women with friends and family of birthing age.

And while the masses grumble about having to spend the better part of a Sunday afternoon cooing over layettes, I’m completely down with showers. I love ’em. I wish I had more pregnant friends. I wish we could throw showers for every kid born, ever, because I would attend all of ’em.

1. It is an excuse to get together with family and friends.

As I’ve grown older, I found that I see important people less and less. Friends move away, family gets busy, we all develop “obligations.” The few times we can get a group together are in honor of major life events.

Like having a baby.

And for those of us who don’t get out much anymore, this totally counts as a social event (demented and sad, but social).

2. Structured events are comforting.

I’m a bit awkward. On any given day, being a normal socialized human requires thought, strategy, and effort. That’s why it’s sometimes nice to enter a room and have someone tell me what to do. Put your present on the table. Take a glass of champagne. Fill out a Shower Bingo card. Remove from your purse the silverware you stole.

For someone who has difficulty knowing what to do with herself at parties, the dash of structure makes everything much more manageable.

3. The spread is pretty good.

Whether it’s a fancy shindig in a banquet hall or an intimate gathering in someone’s living room, there’re always good eats. It’s amazing to watch a bunch of dainty ladies descend on a spinach artichoke dip and hoover it like it’s oxygen. Or cut tiny cupcakes into exponentially smaller pieces until someone offers to split the last red velvet molecule with me.

And there is no such thing as a bad cake (except perhaps one made out of diapers).

4. You get to give a gift you know they want.

I start obsessing over holiday gifts sometime in late August – I want to make sure that I magically select the perfect present that is useful without being stodgy, fun without being frivolous, and pricey without being too extravagant. Like I said, I obsess.

Registries are my catnip – all the gifts are preselected and sorted by category and price point. Of course, everyone wants to pick the gift off the registry that best fits the recipient’s personality (which is why all the wine glasses and bar stuff is bought first off bridal registries). I just need to act fast, or instead of that cute owl-patterned crib set, I could get stuck gifting nipple brushes and rash cream.

5. You get to re-gift some of your own baby gear.

I feel bad throwing out that lime-green polyester romper someone gave my baby that says “Princess Diva.” Thankfully, I can pay it forward to that friend whose shower I was clearly B-listed to, and as luck would have it, is also having a girl. Score!

6. Gift-giving is a subtle way to share parenting advice.

Not something trite, like “It goes so fast,” “sleep when the baby sleeps,” or “close your mouth when your baby pisses on your head.” More like, my friend will get the hint when she receives 15 packages of burp cloths (useful), but no one buys her the wipe warmer or bath thermometer (useless).

While we can’t usually gift the most-needed items (no minivans or Netflix subscriptions, I’m afraid), we do share our favorite books, toys, and that onesie that makes the baby look like he’s wearing a suit. And we all hope that some day, they will use whatever gift we got them and think: “My friend is a maternal goddess. Life is so much better because my son has a Sleep Sheep.”

7. Breakfast cocktails.

These days, a baby shower is usually the closest I get to going out for brunch. What do I miss most about brunch? Certainly not pancakes – heaven knows I eat enough of those. I miss mimosas, bloody Mary’s, bellinis, unlimited champagne. Thank you, baby showers, for re-introducing me to morning cocktails.

8. You get to initiate the honoree into a tribe of women.

The mom-to-be needs to look around her shower and see that even once she has kids, she will still belong to a community of women, some moms, some not. And while it will get harder to see everyone (at least until the next baby shower), these women in your life don’t go away.

The baby shower becomes less about the gimmicks and the cheeseball games, and more about reminiscing about our experiences as mothers. Soon, the mom-to-be will have her own stories, advice, and lame re-gifts to pay forward.

Which is perfect, because there’s another baby shower this Sunday.

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