We recently had a chance to look at the topic on bridal showers. Thank you for the engaging conversation. If you missed the article, please read Rethinking Bridal Showers.
I believe it is a high time we reset some of these activities that we engage in and ask ourselves why we do them the way we do. Let us look at baby showers this week.
A baby shower is a party held for an expectant woman to celebrate her and shower the baby with gifts. Baby showers borrow heavily from bridal showers. The mom-to-be is given advice on the new motherhood journey.
Just like bridal showers, baby showers are no small fete. The color code, decor, venue and the gifts to make the event exciting. At times, the mom-to-be has no idea that the shower is being organised and there comes in the element of surprise. I would opt for no surprise but hey, I could just be plain old and boring.
I attended my first baby shower 18 years ago. The shower was set up for a wonderful woman who needed great support at the time. That woman was me. It had both my male and female friends. Sweet souls. All they wanted to do is give me support and I was thoroughly surprised by their love. There was no agenda apart from gifting me with the goodies for the little one.
I have attended many showers thereafter. Some wonderful with encouraging stories to embrace the new journey, wise counsel on how to love your children […then they (the older women) can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children…Titus 2:4], live a balanced life (all facets) even though the reality of true balance is evasive and much more.
Have you heard of the terrifying ones? Mothers go to great lengths to explain some of their terrifying childbirth experiences to the horror and dismay of the expectant lady and the attendees. If you are without a child at that point, the thought of having cute little babies is not attractive anymore.
The truth is that the modern woman worries much about the childbirth experience. The pain during childbirth was our curse, remember? Genesis 3.16. That said, I wish some of the gruesome labor stories would not be shared if the intention is to demonstrate childbirth prowess, while not being sensitive to ladies who are struggling or not able to bear children.
Lately, it has been deemed fit to engage the mother-to-be during the planning phase so that you know what kind of gifts she needs to avoid unnecessary or unwanted purchases. However, there are those mothers-to-be who provide a long list of items that they desire for their babies (or themselves). Why do some of these lists need to be lavish? It is your baby after all. The expectant mother should manage her expectations and not use the shower as her shopping moment. She should make her own purchases as well.
Gifts are bought for the baby and mother. Does the father need to feature on the list? Who is looking into his journey as well? Should he participate in the baby shower, together with some of his male friends?
On a light note, one of my single male friends mentioned that he had been invited by his new girlfriend to a baby shower. I was curious if he was going to attend and if yes, knock the living day lights out of him. He didn’t.
It appears that friends feel obligated to ensure a shower is held for their expectant friend since it is easy to lose friends nowadays where friends do not organise the auspicious event. Let us not forget the costs that go to such events. Some showers are over the top and costs become prohibitive to the friends, or the spouse who may have to chip in. It is okay to say no if the planning is not working for you.
If the showers must take place, we should consider when they should take place. One of my friends lost her baby sometime after delivery of her baby. According to her, showers should be held after delivery. For a mother who has gone through the loss of her baby, one is left wondering what to do with all the gifts received. The gifts may serve as a cold reminder of the loss. Perhaps consider a welcome baby party?
When it comes to giving advice, it is important to know who is doing so. Stories of breastfeeding and postpartum struggles should generally be avoided unless with the intention of creating awareness on the topic. In the event these issues arise, the mother should seek help from professionals or others who can help.
Other negative talk that would scare the mom-to-be e.g. how her life is over as some things will be hard to do e.g. sleep or have sex should be moderated as well. It may be factual, but go easy on the advice. Seek to encourage the mom-to-be. And for the mom-to-be, choose what advice works for you especially around feeding, baby routines including sleep.
It may also be worthwhile to incorporate or be considerate of the attendees who are not parents. They still play a key role in the lives of the soon-to-be parents. They too have their own views based on how they were raised. Allow them to say something.
The intention for showers ideally is to help the soon-to-be parent understand the parenting journey. If the mother has already had a shower for the first child, is there need for a second or third shower? If there is, probably consider getting gifts that will make the lives of the parents easier while juggling a number of children. The gifts for the subsequent showers do not have to be grand.
I believe showers should be held for celebrations and there should not be pressure to buy specific items on a list. Celebrate the journey and have fun while playing pre-approved games. Encourage the soon-to-be mother on how to care for her little one. Give her your blessings. Pray for her. Most importantly, find out if the mom-to-be is interested in having a baby shower thrown for her, and if she is, have fun and focus on what will encourage her.
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