Well, not so much.
Yesterday, I received an invitation to a baby shower. This is the third such invitation that I’ve declined in the last couple of years. I said we’ll be out of town. At this point, we don’t have specific plans to be out of town, but I hope to be kayaking down a river that day and sleeping on a sandbar that night.
I don’t know exactly what it is about baby showers that rubs me the wrong way. It could be the fact that these women only gatherings have themes and games that vary only slightly from what is appropriate for an 8 year old girl’s birthday party. And then it is really just because the games are baby themed. It could be that sometimes they are pretty transparent attempts to shake down the “guests” for items that will defray the cost of purchasing everything a baby and new mother need. Anyway, the last two times I declined, I did something in the way of a gift and mailed a card to BOTH parents of the baby from me AND my husband. The mother isn’t (or shouldn’t be in this on her own) if the baby’s father is actually present in her life. And I have to think that men would never put up with this B.S.
I’ve done a little reading on the history of baby showers and apparently their roots date back to Victorian England. These early showers were teas held after the birth of the baby because in Victorian England, apparently no one was supposed to see a lady when she was as big as a house. From what I understand they also didn’t involve gifts or silly games. All of that came later. And now, in addition to the all women events I am complaining about, there are coed baby showers. I can bet that men won’t tolerate the sorts of games often played at baby showers. No reason why they (or we) should. I’ve also read that now there are “feminist” baby showers. Apparently these showers are women only affairs involve gifts but not childish games, since those in attendance are, um… adult women. Huh, not wanting to be completely infantalized makes me a feminist? Well, I guess you’ve got me there. When I start throwing around phrases like “the infantalization of women” I can’t really argue against having feminist leanings.
My favorite depiction of baby showers in television was in the “Sex and the City” episode where Miranda realizes that she hasn’t had the time to shop for everything that she needs for the nearly imminent arrival of her baby. Charlotte wants to throw her a shower and against Charlotte’s wishes, Miranda specifies that there will be no games, there will not be sandwiches with the crusts cut off and is very specific that she wants fried chicken. Surprisingly (well not so much) Charlotte comes through and throws a shower that Miranda appreciates, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The best part here is that when the talk of a shower first comes up, Miranda says, “Well besides you guys, who would I invite?” Samantha quickly pipes up and says, “All the bitches that made you come to their’s.” There you have it, they’re not going to have to come to mine, so I’m pretty sure I don’t have to go to their’s. To put it another way, the expectant mother can have a present, but she cannot have my Saturday afternoon.
It doesn’t help that I am not wildly close to any of the recent expectant mommies. I can think of one friend, who if she and her husband were having a baby, I would be thrilled. If they were having a baby, hell, I’d probably even throw the thing for them. But it would be a coed thing, with no stupid games in sight to celebrate the fact that they would soon be becoming parents because that is an amazing thing. And it should be celebrated. It would be an adult party where people acted like adults.