So baby showers. I … don’t love them. In fact, I kind-of think they are the worst thing ever.
Before I get assaulted by everyone, I get that I am on an island here. People have argued with me for years about how it represents support and community and love. But I have always had a hard time reconciling playing pin-the-bow-on-the-baby with the sisterhood.
By my own guess, I’ve been to almost 50 baby showers in my life. That is A LOT of Saturday afternoons talking to relatives of friends while guessing the arrival date of the baby in the womb. It’s a lot of cold quiche. It’s a lot of non-alcoholic lemonade.
About two years ago, I looked around during a baby shower and thought, “Travis literally never has to do this. He never has to come to one of these all dressed up and play baby bingo or make small talk with strangers. He doesn’t have to agonize over a registry, wondering how much to spend or if he should wrap the gift or just have it sent.” And why doesn’t he? Because he is a man. Men never have to do this. I hate it just as much as he would, yet there I sat, fulfilling my duty as a female friend. And it made me very, very angry.
Not because I don’t want to love the women and mothers in my life. I so desperately do. I love friendship. I love support. I even love giving gifts. I love moms! I just cannot believe that as millennials, we still have not come up with anything better. Our contribution to society is ingenuity, creativity, progress. But we’re still throwing the baby showers.
Here’s the rub: we need to replace it with something better. There is something really beautiful about all of your friends coming together to give you the things you need to bring life into the world. But when you have 5 different groups of friends and family in one room, it gets awkward and obligatory. And isn’t it weird that as a society, we’ve accepted registries? “Here’s a list of everything I want. Go buy it for me? Thanks.” Then we added games to the agenda at some point which was the worst decision. And then there’s the matching plates and party favors and fancy food and all of a sudden this is a really big expense for someone. It feels super consumeristic. It’s just all so … extra. And DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON A BABY SPRINKLE.
Some of my friends have come up with variations of a shower that are definitely better than the original. Like a mother’s blessing with a more intimate group of friends. These are intentional gatherings that include prayers and advice to bless mom and baby. It’s less about the fanfare, more about what’s actually happening. This is lovely and real progress and I so appreciate that.
I don’t mean to sound like such a buzzkill. Not every shower is terrible and I see the value in the celebration. I have put myself in a dress with a cheery heart and gone to 5 showers already this year. I just knew that when it came to this tradition for me, it needed to be different.
An email went out to my friends and family about halfway through my pregnancy. So many wonderful people wanted to throw me a shower. It’s what you do when someone you love gets pregnant. I get it. But I just couldn’t. Be the change you want to see in the world, right? Well, I want to never go to a shower again, so I said no thanks.
I want to share that email to prove that I’m not the meanest, most ungrateful person alive, but also to encourage others who may have similar feelings. Take charge, forget about tact, be a little selfish, and don’t forget to thank everyone profusely:
Several of you have asked me about a baby shower. And while I so, so, SO appreciate the kindness and sincerity of the offers, I won’t be having one. And I know that is so odd and foreign and weird, but hear me out (and please don’t ignore this and throw me one anyway).
If you’ve been somewhat close to me at all in the past five years, you’ve heard me rant about bridal and baby showers. I really, really don’t like them. And I finally have a way to take a very small stand against them that is less offensive than just not showing up to the hundreds I’ve been invited to. I want to tread lightly here though, because I’ve been to A LOT of your showers. And I will be attending some of your showers in the next few months. This doesn’t mean I don’t like you or didn’t/don’t want to love you through that celebration.
I know the intentions behind them are so pure. I love those intentions—we are celebrating the people we love by showering them with gifts and well wishes and warm feelings.
I just can’t help but think there is a better way to do that. I really don’t want to make a list of everything I want, then send it to all of you digitally so you go out and buy it for me and then give it to me in front of my old pastor’s wife, previous colleagues, and current neighbors.
I know that is what everyone else does and it’s the norm and this might be a really tactless way of handling all of this. But you know what? This baby is already stressing me out a little. And I’m trying to do things that don’t stress me out. You know what doesn’t stress me out?
Amazon gift cards. Target gift cards. Walks in the park. Coffee with a dear friend. The Bachelor. Used but helpful/necessary baby things that you don’t use/want anymore. Emails with advice from mothers who have their own businesses. Or just advice from mothers in general (except you moms that have it all together. No thanks!). Breakfast burritos 6 weeks after this baby comes. A hug and a “You don’t look like you’ve gained any weight at all!”
So please, if you want to give me something that will make me feel showered, I just gave you like 17 examples of how you can do that. I did the work for you.
If you love me, you’ll see this as my feeble attempt at self-preservation and you’ll roll your eyes and love me anyway. If you’re getting this email, it means I love you very, very much. It obligates you to nothing. It is me telling you that my sisters will not be sending you an invitation, planning a party with too much food, and sending you a registry. This email is also telling you that I will kindly but decisively not show up to anything you plan for me if it even resembles a baby shower.
Thank you in advance for complying to this odd but determined request and for listening to my many, many thoughts about this topic over the past several years. You all deserve an award.
P.S. If you are a friend having a baby and a shower in the next few months, I will be there and I will enjoy it without an ounce of judgment for you. We, as a generation, have not yet come up with a better way to do this. That isn’t your fault. I reserve my judgment for the institution, not the individual. Please invite me to your shower. Once again, this time with feeling, I love you.
I love this so much and can totally relate!! I kinda feel the same about all the cliche things we "have" to do to mark certain points in our life. They are supposed to make us feel special but the few I’ve had made me feel more stressed than anything. What makes me feel special is friends and family taking the time to reach out. It’s people gathering together with nothing but each other (and some good wine), because people should be what matters.
I think we could be friends. I have an equal loathing of bachelorette parties.
I know this post is five years old, but you’ve captured every feeling I’ve had for most of my life. I just got married in June and refused a bridal party, shower, and registry for all of the same reasons, it’s more stressful and I don’t want anything. Getting ready to go to my what seems like hundredth baby shower and dreading it. I’ll likely be pregnant in the next year and I’ll refuse to have a shower then too. I’ll definitely be using your email as a template for what I’ll send my friends/family. It’s great to know I’m not alone!