I attended a baby shower today for a young woman who is part of the extended family. I have avoided baby showers for the past twenty-something years, but felt obligated to go to this one, both to support the hostess (who is an absolutely lovely person) as well as to be kind to the mother-to-be.
I do not like baby showers. In fact, I thoroughly dislike them, for many complex reasons.
There is, first, the strange aspect of self-celebration that accompanies showers (including bridal showers as well as baby showers). I do not understand love of the spotlight.
There can also be a very odd competitive nature to showers: which person can throw the most well-decorated/cutest/most elaborate shower? Which guest brings the cutest/most expensive/most unusual gift? Even when the hostess is a lovely, down-to-earth person, other well-meaning individuals add fancy favors, elaborate decorations, thematic cakes. It can go on and on.
If I were to be honest, I woul admit to the tiniest bit of jealousy: oh, to be young and expectant. It is a marvel of nature to grow a baby, feeling tiny feet wedged under your ribs. Wondering what this child will be like, gathering tiny clothes and sturdy cardboard books, waiting. Alas. My time is past.
The overarching reason I dislike baby showers, though, is not jealousy:
rather, it is fear.
I have written before about Offspring the Third's guardian, Nicholas. When I was five months pregnant with Offspring the Third, the sister of my heart delivered her perfect, stillborn son, Nicholas -- and the fabric of the world was rent apart. Life and death were no longer opposites, but merely opposite sides of the very same coin. I understood with complete certainty that terrible things could happen, and did happen, even to the most wonderful people among us. And that there was no predicting such terrible things. Even after Offspring the Third was safely delivered, with the grace of the Universe (and perhaps with help from Nicholas), I knew that the world would never look the same.
And this is, ultimately, why I dislike baby showers. To assume that all will be well, and worth celebrating now, seems too much like tempting Fate. We should not do so. We must respect both sides of the coin.
Let us hope that today's celebrated baby is safely delivered in due course. Amen.
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