It’s Time We Get This Out In the Open, and Just Have the Talk About Baby Showers

I’ve kept my mouth shut about this for SO. LONG. But I just can’t keep it shut anymore. I consider it to be hazardous to my health to hold this in any further.

If, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, I wish I could apologize. But I can’t. Instead I’m going to say as nicely as possible: if, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, you should probably take a look at your behaviors and adjust them to display a little more class and decorum when it comes to your baby showers. Or, in short: sometimes the truth hurts.

There, I said it. I started the ball rolling; no stopping now. It’s time we get this out in the open, and just have the talk about baby showers.

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I’ve been to a lot of baby showers, and parties about or for babies. Sometimes it feels as if this is a punishment we women in our 30s are given as some sort of universal, karmic retribution for our prior behavior. Every time I made out with my boyfriend while babysitting as a high schooler is paid back with a terrible, tacky, and – quite frankly – disgusting baby shower now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my friends and family and their new additions. But as with many things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to handle it.

Wrong Way: Not Enough Food

I guess I’m becoming the minority on this point, because it happens more often. Granted, I typically can’t eat the food at any of the baby showers (or other events in general) that I attend, because I eat gluten free and people still don’t seem to grasp the concept that more and more people have dietary restrictions.

But I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen the rage in people’s eyes when they see they’ve come to a baby shower, bearing a gift hovering around a $100 value mark, to find there was nothing being offered. They’ve taken their Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning, when they could have been doing something else entirely, and brought that gift, dressed up in a flowery dress and high heels – and in return there wasn’t even a decent deviled egg or potato chip with ranch dip to be found.

I recently went to a baby shower where everyone was saying they were doing appetizer-type food. Pick-me-up food, so they could avoid having to set up the sit-down tables usually required when you serve a sit down meal. This way people could mingle – it would be spectacular! All anyone would talk about for the months preceding the shower were these fucking appetizers they’d be serving – it would be the appetizer party to end all appetizer parties.

Well then the mom-to-be’s friends all flaked out at the last minute, and it morphed into mostly a family party. Which she had no interest in. So no one gave a shit about the appetizer party anymore, or mingling for that matter; and it turned into a “give me presents and get the fuck out of my house” kind of event.

Oh, it was so tacky.

By the time eating the appetizers actually happened, people quickly realized that all they had was a small plate of Costco sandwiches, a small plate of vegetables, and approximately 7 deviled eggs. The guys in the other part of the house even had better food than the actual baby shower had, and fire shot from the eyes of the family members in attendance when this came to light. They weren’t even going to have a cake, until someone donated one – all in all, it was tasteless, tacky, and – quite frankly – transparent as to what the party was all about.

Right Way: Party Within Your Means

Now I get it, not everyone can afford to throw a huge party with the caviar on the side.

Can’t afford anything more than a cake? Then you need to have a gender reveal party in lieu of a baby shower so people don’t come expecting more. (And by expecting, I don’t mean people have particular expectations; I mean that’s the status quo so people will come hungry.) People will still bring you gifts out of the kindness of their heart, but they won’t be set up to get the impression that everything is about just collecting as many presents as you can.

Don’t have anywhere to throw the party comfortably with the number of people you want to invite? Well…move it to a restaurant, but only if you can afford to provide the meal.

Just yesterday I was invited to a baby shower that included both a copy of the registry, as well as the prix fix meal menu card with my bill.

Yes, that’s right. If I were to attend, I’d have to select what I wanted and send my check to pay for my meal ahead of time. I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised to hear that the registry items started at $200.

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Honestly, if you are just interested in getting gifts, you shouldn’t have a party at all. Baby showers are supposed to be about a celebration, gifts are a side note – which is why the truly right way to handle a baby shower is to have one within your means, or don’t have one at all and just graciously tell people where you are registered if they ask about getting something for your new(est) little one.

Wrong Way: Being Gross

Everyone knows how you made the baby. We don’t need to talk about it.

Everyone knows baby diapers are gross and squishy. We don’t need to play games where you melt chocolate into diapers and make us taste it, as if we’re licking human feces out of an infant’s diaper.

And what is it with people’s more recent obsessions with talking about getting the baby out? I mean really. Everyone wants to talk about what their experience was squeezing their baby out of their v-hole. Baby cakes are now fashioned in the likeness of a woman birthing her baby, with words like “PUSH BABY PUSH” written in buttercream frosting around the trim.

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christina-aguilera-baby-shower-cakeAnd I think this giant vagina cake just says it all.

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Right Way: Be Compassionate, Tactful, and Thankful

Babies are a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

Babies are also a really exciting time, which is why it’s a delicate balance. The bottom line is that no matter how well you think you know someone, there’s still a good chance that there’s something you don’t know.

One of your good friends may not be attending your baby shower because she just had a miscarriage. One of your family members may be struggling with infertility, and have a hard time doing much more than just coming, having a slice of your giant vagina cake, wishing you congrats, and leaving before the gift opening begins. The right thing to do is to be understanding of other people’s circumstances, even if you don’t know what those are.

But it goes beyond that.

You should never invite your ex-girlfriend or ex-husband to your baby shower.

You should never tell all of your family and friends of child-bearing age that your party to celebrate your future child is going to be “kid-free.”

And – this is a big one many people will disagree with me on – you should never have multiple parties.

I get that people have different factions of family-, friend-, and work life. You have a work shower and a regular shower…I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about having so many different parties to celebrate your future child – a gender party, a baby shower for one side of the family, a baby shower for another side of the family, a work shower, an introduction of the new baby party… all of a sudden you’ve thrown four, five, maybe even six parties, crossed invites all over the place; and in all the hubbub, forgotten to invite people that should have been invited, and moreover you haven’t thanked those that came to each and all.

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Ultimately, I think that baby showers have become the new pre-wedding experience. It’s one last hurrah, one last fling, one last “it’s all about me.” But what people are failing to realize, here, is that once you’re pregnant, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about your family, the life you’re taking care of, and the community and system of values you’re bringing that child into.

 

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STFU Fridays: Party Season Is Over Just In Time For Bridal/Baby Season

So in the last six months we have celebrated: two birthdays (that I baked my eight hour cake for); an anniversary (that I baked another eight hour cake for); Halloween (homemade costumes); Thanksgiving (handcrafted party to avoid having to do much on Thanksgiving, only to be expected to do much on Thanksgiving anyway); one birthday (that extended into two parties); Christmas (three required family events, plus brunch hosted by me); another birthday (made a birthday dinner); yet another birthday (that extended into three parties); my mom’s birthday (that I didn’t plan on celebrating, but turned into me hosting 12 people for dinner when they all just showed up); and my dad’s 70th (surprise party, thrown by me). In the month of December, I contracted Influenza A (the H3 that was so nasty), and was sick for an entire month. In October my husband caused a car accident; in December he bought me a used car with the meager settlement and took my nicely running Yaris; in January I had to buy myself a rebuilt transmission for said used car after it broke down; last week I had to get a new cooling pump as well. On October 24th a very good friend of mine committed suicide (never got invited to the memorial, though); in January my husband’s uncle died (memorial was in February); and after three days of being in hospice with pneumonia, my first sweetheart – my grandpa – passed away peacefully (resulting in two weeks of funerary activities, culminated in two wakes, one burial, two memorials, a $500 trip to just south of Yosemite where he is buried, and at least five different times that I cooked a meal for a large group of family).

To say that I’m done entertaining and cooking for other people – amidst all the other common bullshit life has thrown at me –  is a gross understatement. I won’t even get started on the fact that my birthday is coming up, and my dad is having  hip replacement surgery – so either my birthday has to be celebrated next weekend when the kid’s home, or it’s not being celebrated at all. I’ll save the “I did all this for everyone else, and they didn’t do shit for me yet another year” rant for when/if it actually happens.

The annual clusterfuck party season is over in this house. I’m done making decorations. I’m done putting together costumes. I’m over baking cakes. And if one more person walks into my house with their shoes on – traipsing dirt all over my carpet – they will be receiving a visit to the throat with my five-fingered friend named Fist.

So it would appear, though, party season has ended just in time for bridal and baby season to begin. Let’s spend this Shut the Fuck Up Friday examining the evidence:

Weddings Are Being Talked About Everywhere

I have three weddings coming up this summer of close family members. Please don’t get me wrong: I am super duper excited for all of them. They are each cousins, and having been an only child, they were more like brothers and sisters growing up. They still are (to me, at least). And each of them couldn’t have found better partners in crime – I love all of them and am so happy for them.

But goddamn does wedding talk get on my nerves sometimes. For one, my wedding was the most bare-bones, low-key wedding ever. I still have mixed feelings about that, which means that sometimes when I see a Bridal Expo sign, or drive by the bridal shop down the street from my house, I cry. There was very little “what the bride wants – this is her day” at our affair. Again, I did enjoy the time with my friends and what family was there. There was a lot of specialness in it all, and yeah – it’s not about the wedding, but the marriage. But there may be a little jealousy there, because as with many things in our lives, a lot of our situation (beyond the wedding, itself) was just dysfunctional.

The other day I was talking to my aunt and mentioned that I had asked my cousin when her bridal shower/bachelorette stuff was going to be. She said “oh, she won’t know – that’s supposed to be a surprise!” I had no idea that a bridal shower or bachelorette party was supposed to be a surprise. Why don’t I know? Because no one ever threw me one. The closest thing I had to a bachelorette party was shortly after I got engaged, we went on a girl’s night out. Everyone said “this is your last night of freedom!” but it didn’t feel like it. There was no drinking. There was no dancing debauchery. There would be no tittie flashing and screaming “wooooo – bachelorette party!!” at my affair. No, we sat in a bar, awkwardly sober, while one of my friends (that I no longer speak to) dry humped a complete stranger on one side of our booth. I was home by 10:15.

We had our Catholic wedding a few weeks before my brother in law and Hello Kitty Toaster had their “Celebration of Marriage” and she was thrown a huge bridal shower by my husband’s extended family. After my girl’s night out, the closest thing I came to a bridal shower was being allowed to take notes on what gifts she had received.

Baby Belly Photos Are Showing Up In My Newsfeed

487659_10200438668384263_1494975773_nAnother set of people I am unequivocally happy for: the twenty-two good friends I have giving birth between the months of May and July (and the number keeps growing). Let’s start with a note: I didn’t even know that I had twenty-two friends. No shit. Now I do because they’re all pregnant – and again, I am so excited for them. I’m thinking about planning a day at the end of July to just go and visit every, single one of them. I already know what cute little outfits I want to get each of them. And I am super excited to throw a baby shower for one of them (the only party that I actually *want* to throw).

But dammit, ladies – cover up. I am very familiar with pregnancy. It makes me nervous. Childbirth makes me feel faint. Every time I watch those Discovery baby shows, I get short of breath. I don’t need to see naked belly photo updates. I’ll take the clothed ones – we can see your bump nicely under your Motherhood top. We don’t need the stretch marks and the belly button popped out. I further don’t need commentary on your constipation, or your milk leakage. I will celebrate your baby in all the ways you want me to – at your pretentious “gender reveal party;” at your ultrasound where eight of us are crammed in the room. I will “like” and comment on photo after photo of your many, many ultrasounds. I will even hold your leg for you, or hold ice chips to your mouth in the delivery room – I am that committed of a friend. But I can’t take the uglier side of pregnancy and childbirth. I won’t look at your vagina as it gives birth to life. I will not discuss your fire-y hemorrhoids that started as soon as the baby dropped. And I will not enjoy your gargantuan stretch mark belly pics.

Entertaining season, or party season, has officially come to a close in our house. But it looks like the party is just getting started. Do you have a party season in your house faithful blog followers? Ours this time around was particularly arduous, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that after it has all come to an end I am still left feeling that the world is completely off its axis since some very important people were lost during all of it. As bridal and baby season ramps up, we should all keep in mind that not everyone has the same experience as us. Some are better, some are worse. Being modest and happy for each other seems the best course of action.

But just know: if your pregnancy talk gets too detailed, or your wedding jargon is reminding me just how hard mine was for me, I reserve the right to tell you to shut the fuck up.