Your Friends Don’t Deserve To Suffer Through Your Boring Baby Shower
Ah, baby showers. They’re a ritual of modern motherhood and at least 60% of the reason Pinterest exists, but have you ever stopped to wonder why we’re still putting each other through this? The registries, the dumb games, the etiquette wars — it’s all a running joke amongst people of childbearing age. We know that baby showers are the actual worst, yet we continue on with the tired tradition.
According to Random History, the modern baby shower has its roots in the Victorian era, when women would hold tea parties for new moms after their babies were born. By the early 1900s, these tea parties started to include small, handmade gifts. After WWII, during the baby boom era, showers grew along with the rampant consumerism that characterized the 50s and 60s into the spectacle know them as today.
In other words, baby showers in the mid-twentieth century not only served an economic function by providing the mother-to-be and her home with material goods that lessened the financial burden of infant care, but purchased “things” also emerged as the principle whereby women make themselves into mothers. The commodities associated with pregnancy and birth served to construct the identity of the fetus as a social being.
For many of us, showers are one of those ritual things we don’t think to question. I certainly didn’t think twice when I found out about mine. My mother and mother-in-law teamed up to throw me a shower when I was pregnant with my first child, and it was exactly how showers are supposed to be. There were decorations and cake, finger foods, ridiculous games, and enough presents to supply me for 10 babies.
Like most new parents, I had no idea what I would need or use, so I completely over-registered. I ended up with a useless wipe warmer, a million newborn onesies that never fit my gigantic kid, and 17 different kinds of pacifiers and bottles still in packages in the closet. My family and friends generously purchased these things because that’s the expectation with modern baby showers: you bring a gift off the amateur-made registry, sit in a room wall-papered in pastel streamers, and eat crappy appetizers while feigning interest in watching the expectant mother coo over the 89th pair of useless baby shoes she’s opened.
I regret putting my friends through the baby shower ritual. It was wasteful and kind of presumptuous, and honestly I would rather have just spent time with the people I love doing something fun and enjoying our baby-free time together with no emphasis on my pregnancy at all.
Wanting to help friends prepare for new parenthood is a sweet and lovely gesture, but it’s about time we came up with a better way of doing it. Showering a new mom with love and best wishes needn’t include spending a lot of money or an entire afternoon. We’ve already seen the sense of entitlement inherent in shower culture spawn other rituals like ‘gender’ reveals, push presents, and kids’ birthday registries. I say we return to the days of yore, have a post-birth tea party, and call it a day.