Friday, May 13, 2005

Coming clean about loathing baby showers

Register columnist

Saar_2Imagine you get an invitation in the mail that reads:

join a group of people you only kinda know for three excruciating hours
of finger food and small talk. Feign a smile as a woman you work with
eats melted chocolate out of a baby diaper! Other games include:
Peppering fertility-challenged women with insensitive questions!
Indulging the bug-eyed lady who insists on showing you her C-section
scar! Pretending to care as someone you spent too much money on opens
presents that she chose herself and basically made you buy! RSVP by May 19."

showers are weird. There's no getting around that. There is nothing
normal about sitting in a circle, passing around the pajamas of someone
you haven't yet met and cooing.

So I let everyone know early in my pregnancy that I don't want a baby shower.

You would have thought I told them that I plan to become a mermaid and raise my child to speak fluent flounder.

"What do you mean you don't want a baby shower?" every woman in my life has asked.

I want to answer: "Well, I mean that I - the person standing here in front of you talking- feel a lack of desire for - meaning a wish to avoid- a baby shower - which is a type of party that, if I'm not mistaken, you nearly always complain about having to go to."

I blame my superstitious Jewish heritage, in which we don't celebrate
anything that hasn't happened yet because, as a friend of a friend of
mine put it, we really are a gloomy people.

It's customary in
Jewish tradition to forgo baby showers, with all their
you're-just-asking-for-trouble anticipation. We have much more sane
baby-related gatherings. Like a bris, in which we invite our family to
nosh on chopped liver while a hairy man circumcises our sons. (OK.
Maybe I'll have to drop that argument.)

The truth is, there are
plenty of Jews who have baby showers. I just don't want to be one of
them because: 1. A large part of me is legitimately superstitious; 2.
Baby showers suck; and 3. Baby gear is creepy.

I know I'm
supposed to outfit my house with Binkies and Boppies and Lord-knows
what-elsies. But try spending an hour at Babies 'R' Us and tell me you
don't break out in a cold sweat. Maybe I saw "Rosemary's Baby" at too
young an age, but baby strollers seem to portend evil. Mobiles are like
little circular horror movies complete with their own soundtracks. And
highchairs look like they could come alive in the night and kill your

Hubby and I have long wanted a baby. But neither of us really wants baby stuff.

know we're being unrealistic. Babies need stuff. They need a place to
sleep, clothes to wear, colorful dangly things to activate their

We get it. We are excited to provide it. We just
don't want to get it all before there's a baby around to employ any of
it. We don't want it to sit in our house with its maniacal
cheerfulness, like a porcelain clown doll calling out to us from
another room, "I want to play a game. If you don't play with me, I will
make up my own game."

Now, the pop psychologists out there will
likely write me all kinds of letters saying I'm simply projecting my
anxiety about impending motherhood on inanimate objects. Maybe they're
right. But I ask you to consider, just consider, the possibility that
I'm right. That baby fetishizing smacks of foreboding, baby showers are
interminable and baby stuff is eerie. I mean, even women who don't much
like me have offered to throw me showers. That right there tells me
there's an element of sadism in these things.

Sit with that for
a little bit. Contemplate it. Let it gestate. If you still think I'm
wrong, gift-wrap some onesies, break out the Huggies and pop that
Snickers in the microwave. Just don't expect me to show up to the party.

1 comment:

  1. I am so relieved to see that someone is in agreement with me on this issue! What galls me is that you get invitations from these people who want you to bring them gifts and after you receive the cursory "thank you" note, you never hear from them again! My opinion is, if someone cares enough about giving me a gift, then they will without being leaned on or expected to (this is especially so in southern churches). Personally I had such a horrible experience with my so called wedding shower I will never have another shower in my name again!