Growing up, fun was never the stated goal in my family home. To be successful at life was to be diligent, disciplined, and frugal; it’s the protestant work ethic that has stayed with me, even as a confirmed agnostic. Doing anything my brain perceives as “frivolous” can be an inherently guilt-ridden experience for me.
It’s why I could still only ever take out a loan (anxiously) for something serious, like a house, and never for something like a cooler car. Anything that makes me the centre of attention and that costs money – a hen do, a birthday party, a big wedding – is a no-no, my inner moral compass quietly advises me.
I understand that we all come from different backgrounds and have different views, but for the rest of this article, it’s useful to know this about me. Equipped with this context, you can probably have a good guess at how well I deal with baby showers (even if you hadn’t seen the title of this post…)
Throwing a party to get other people to focus on and celebrate you? Nope.
Throwing a party where the explicit intention is for other people to bring you gifts? Also nope.
You see, if someone close to me is expecting a baby I am only too happy to give a gift. Indeed, I will put a lot of time and thought into choosing something, probably adding to that something I’ve taken a lot of time and care over making myself.
But the notion of inviting people to an event to bring you a gift – and not just one that they have put care into choosing, but one you’ve explicitly requested through a gift registry is another nope. Probably because asking other people for money (essentially what a gift registry is) is anathema to me.
And so you arrive at the event, typically filled with women, along with countless small infants and baby bumps. For those of us without children – and, I understand, many with them – conversation centering on nappies, the challenges of pregnancy, and the cost of daycare is not how I yearn to spend my weekends. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad friend.
I’ll save my criticism of the typical focus on gender for another post. Suffice it to say, I am convinced that society’s unrelenting desire to pigeonhole young children according to gender is extremely harmful for both boys and girls for their whole lives, and has an untold impact on gender inequity.
I hope it goes without saying that I am happy for my expectant friends. I wish them all the health and happiness in the world with their most precious of new gifts. As their friend, I will come to their party, bearing gifts. I will coo and cluck to the best of my ability. I will understand that we come from different backgrounds, and that this is a beautiful occasion for them, a chance to celebrate with the village that will raise their child. And while I may not be totally on board with the idea of a baby shower, I will love being part of that village, and will love their new addition like I love them.