When I had my first baby, I had three baby showers. Yes, three. I should have felt like the luckiest woman alive, but instead those showers felt like an obligation. I felt happy that everyone wanted to celebrate my baby, but something in these exquisite lunches with beautiful cakes, fancy decorations and generous gifts felt false.
At the time, I didn’t know why, but now I realize that a modern baby shower is just part of the way we lie to pregnant moms. We don’t mean to lie, but we don’t want to scare her. We don’t mean to lie, but being honest, being real about motherhood is too gritty, too invasive for living rooms filled with daisies and lemonade. The modern baby shower with candy baby booties, pink and blue balloons and games with diapers and nursery rhymes is cute, but it feels like a façade masking what we really need to be doing.
New moms don’t need specialty onesies, expensive strollers and unsolicited advice on their birth choices. They don’t need a barrage of trite and potentially damaging phrases like, “Enjoy every minute,” “you’re going to love being a mom,” “It’s the best job ever,” “you’ll be so in love the minute you meet your baby.” What they really need is support. Empathetic, compassionate and honest support that makes space for both the new baby and the new mother that will emerge from the birth. For me, the ‘guess the size of the belly’ game did not feel like loving, non-judgmental support.
When I had my second and third babies, I had baby showers, but they were different. They were gatherings of very small groups of friends and family, they were opportunities for my tribe to surround me and say, ‘we will support you’. And at those gatherings, my friends agreed to provide support in ways that were meaningful to me, not by purchasing smocked rompers and deliciously soft stuffed animals, but by promising to call and listen, to stop by and rock my baby so that I could get a shower, to force me to go on a walk, to bring me a hot meal.
They were gatherings where each woman could share her thoughts and prayers for me as I embarked on the next phase in my journey as a mother. We didn’t play games, we joined hands and worked to strengthen our connections as women, mothers and friends.
So, now when I go to a baby shower, I think about the mom. What will serve her best. What does she really need? Diapers? A fancy stroller? A hot meal? New pajamas? I attend with the express purpose of lifting her up, of saying, “I support you.” And if I have to sit through ooohhing and aaawing over tiny little clothes, I remember that I can provide real, honest support just by being there. Even if it’s not my thing, I go and I say, “I will support you.”
On Saturday, I’m going to the ‘Baby Shower’ for The Birth Center (but it’s really a Community Gathering). Yes, there is a need for stuff, but there is also an opportunity to lift up this amazing organization as they move into their next phase. The Birth Center has been at the forefront of creating a space for real, honest and non-judgmental conversation about pregnancy and birth for over 35 years. Thankfully, I will not be subjected to the dramatic opening of a Sophie the Giraffe, but I will be there saying, “I will support you.” Come out and join me!
Saturday, April 21st 9 am to 1 pm
Hockessin Montessori School