Baby Showers Should Be Banned Indefinitely

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baby showerHere’s a question. If I asked you to haul yourself out of bed on a Sunday morning, scramble for childcare, travel across town to a stranger’s home, engage in stilted conversation, stuff your face with refined-sugar until you feel ill, take, say, 50 bucks and light it on fire, then curse the guest of honor, would you do it?

Now what if I told you it was for a baby shower?

My guess is you’d turn your scowl into a fake smile and give a half-hearted cheer. Most women I know – whether mothers, mothers-to-be or singles who have never known the pleasure of a gift registry – would rather attend the orthodontist than a baby shower, though they’d have to be tortured with a dentist’s drill before they’d admit it. Because of their silence, the baby shower remains a rite of passage and one of the great scourges of pregnancy. Well, bah humbug, I say.

When I moved to the UK a decade ago, there were a few perks to the transfer, not least of which was the absence of saccharine customs like the dreaded pre-natal fete. Alas, like Halloween, the baby shower is one of those rituals the North American borders just can’t contain.

I got warning of my own impending shower a month before my first daughter was born. I don’t blame my friends: they meant no harm. They booked a swish tearoom they knew would never see the likes of me once I had a snivelling appendage at my hip. They invited a fantastic group of ladies and spent a fortune on scones. But I’ll be darned if I wanted to get out of bed that morning, more than eight months into my pregnancy, let alone put on a dress, squeeze into proper shoes and head to the subway on a cold, grey day.

And, besides, I don’t drink tea.

I’ve always hated baby showers and I’m not afraid to say it (sorry, ladies). Regardless of all the lovely gifts I had to haul home on public transport, mine was no exception. I found it awkward making conversation with all those disparate friends, filling the uncomfortable pauses with anecdotes about my swollen ankles. I couldn’t stand the attention (okay, maybe that’s just me). Plus, I couldn’t help fearing all that fanfare was jinxing the outcome. Who dares celebrate before there’s so much blood and guts still to come. (I’m a paranoid Jew; what can I say?)

Still, showing up to my own shower was a thousand times more fun than some of the others I’ve been dragged to… and rolled out of. I’ve never left a shower without looking heftier than the guest of honor for all the calories I inhaled. All that bloat – and yet I’m always hungry again come suppertime. I eat and then I eat some more, mostly to avoid baby-talk with the gamut of women, half of whom are know-it-alls, the other half of whom are clueless.

Then out come the gifts. I tend to lean towards practicality: my kids’ favorite bottles, a diaper-changing kit, nipple cream. Big downer. Other guests steal the show with tiny onesies that would only fit a preemie for a week. No mother-to-be understands the value of nipple cream until it’s too late. By that time my present has been lost in the bowels of the bathroom storage. [tagbox tag=”baby shower”]

Once in a while the sister-of-the-knocked-up organizes a group gift: a big-ticket item like a stroller or a bassinet. But what woman these days could bring herself to delegate such a personal decision to a third party? Who wouldn’t prefer to click and buy on one of the dozens of baby-merch websites that deliver within 24 hours? I recently feted a friend carrying twins. She’d done all her nursery shopping online in a weekend and she loved it. She needed for nothing, yet there she was wobbling off to the bus stop in the dark, struggling with a dozen bags of junk.

Am I being unfair here? Is all that universal dread, all the rigamarole, mitigated by the spirit of sisterhood? Am I missing the point?

Or would everyone out there rather scrap the whole idea and just head to the movies?

Now that’s something I’d be happy to shell out for.

(Photo: Creatas)