Baby showers are (apparently) for other people.
Trying to make small talk with my aunt’s random friend was fairly easy. I may not like using it as much as he does, but I got my father’s innate ability to talk to anyone, anywhere.
My daughter was running around, and the friend inquired about her very puffy butt. We use cloth diapers, I explained. She said they had always used cloth in her momming days, the early ’70s, and bemoaned her daughter’s trials trying to find the right disposable that fit correctly, didn’t cost a fortune, and didn’t give her grandkids a rash.
I smiled and nodded. Then she killed me saying, “And it’s just the worst with all those baby showers! You end up with tons of diapers, and you better just hope they work for your kids!”
“Yeah, well,” I said, “we didn’t have that problem.”
With my first daughter there was an attempt made to throw me a shower by my (male) best friend and his wife. One girl came. Seriously.
I don’t have tons of girlfriends, and the few I still had at the time didn’t have kids. Every one bailed for various reasons, never realizing how horrible that was for me. My office (of 95% women) forgot to plan anything and tried to throw one together when they realized it was my last day. It didn’t work out.
This time around my best friend is back living in New York. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for two years and all those kid-free friendships have floated away.
I never expected a shower. But the world doesn’t know that. I’m a 31-year-old normal looking (I think) mom-to-be who smiles in bump pictures on social media just like everyone else. Baby showers are the norm. Even for second-time moms, a little something is typical. I was recently invited to a surprise sprinkle for another second-timer that I know. In fact, I’ve seen pictures from “light shower” type parties for several already-mommies this year. Some are called sprinkles, some stick with shower but choose a category like diaper shower, book shower, or meal shower (where they actually make freezer meals for the mom).
But it’s universally believed all pregnant women are being thrown a party. Why wouldn’t they? They are building a whole human being with their own body! Well, it seems, everyone in my life assumes someone else is taking care of it. Someone else is closer to me. Someone else will show up.
What happens when the showers don’t come?
A desert forms…
Or you water it yourself.
For a long time, I let the desert grow. I stayed parched and cracked. To be honest, I’m still in that place sometimes. But I’m trying to remember to tend to myself. It’s my baby after all.
We don’t need stuff. I don’t need gifts. But I do want celebration. I want my children to be celebrated, to be seen for the miracles that they are. And I can do that. Maybe there won’t be as many balloons, streamers, or cupcakes with little baby butts on them, but I can do that.
I am letting go of the idea that a party is proof of love. Not everyone gets a shower. Most of the world’s mothers aren’t American gal pals who all drink mocktails and eat cake pops.
I am letting go of the pain that comes with invitations and pictures of other people’s happy day. Social media isn’t real life. And I’d want other people to be happy for me. No one’s creating pain on purpose, it’s just what you do.
I am letting go of the idea that everyone is capable of the effort and closeness that I need from them. It’s not fair to assume that they are. Not fair to me, not fair to them. I’m often not capable of much beyond taking care of my daughter’s needs and my basic hygiene. Why should I expect other people to be so much better?
I am going to shower myself. I made a person. It’s amazing. I created every single cell of my baby’s body. I absolutely deserve to throw myself a party. Not only that, but I did it again while taking care of another human I created. I may be lonely, but I’m kind of a badass.
I am going to shower myself. Not with stuff we can’t afford and probably don’t need. I’m showering myself with grace, with compassion, with love for this body that built a family from scratch.
This post originally appeared on PS I Love You.