Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why Do We Celebrate Things That Haven’t Happened Yet?

I’m all for parties. Attending one can be a fun and relaxing time where everyone comes together to laugh and smile, sometimes exchange gifts, eat, drink and do all the be merry crap that makes it a celebration. The thing I can not wrap my head around is having a party to celebrate something that hasn’t happened yet.

Specifically, I’m talking about a baby shower.

One of my closest friends is having one today and although I have my personal beliefs and whatnot, I do plan to go. But…and this is a huge but…I will go only because I love her to death and we have been friends for twenty some odd years. Otherwise, inviting me to one of these things is probably a useless waste of a stamp.

I have been to a grand total of three baby showers that I can readily recall -- my sister in law’s (with the twins, not her youngest), my best friend’s, and the same friend who is having one today (14-ish years ago with her first born). I have been invited to more than that but there is something inside my brain that can not wrap around the concept.

Call it superstition or whatever but it just seems wrong to celebrate something that isn’t even physically there.

It is the all too scary, I can’t even really say it out loud, “what if” factor.

Never would I wish a child to be, mother, father, (whoever) harm but the baby isn’t actually here yet so how can I go out and buy loads of stuff for it? Not to mention, Doctors have been known to be wrong. What if they say it’s a girl but, oops…suddenly a little bundle of baby boy is wearing a pink dress home from the hospital? Sure there are worse tragedies than that, and that is the very reason I have a tough time with the concept.

I’m all for the biggest ever crowd of friends and family showing up at the hospital the day the child is actually born with a slew of stuff -- diapers, car seats, playpens, clothes, etc. -- but why do we pile into a room a month or two before there is a real being and ogle over a bunch of stuff that we end up handing off to a worn out, tired, pregnant woman who then just has to find a place in her home to organize it all?

So when I do go to these things I never, ever, buy baby things. Instead I focus on mom to be who, at 8 months pregnant, could probably really use a break. Especially when she’s already got a couple kids at home who need her attention and effort. Since I haven’t gone to the shower yet & I don’t know if my friend reads my blog I won’t reveal what her gift is but suffice to say there is no way she could use it for baby stuff.

In about 20 days she will likely be giving birth, then and only then, I will spoil this baby rotten, but until then, all the spoiling rotten goes right toward my friend.



Lisa BTB said...

Hmmm...I never thought of it that way. I never really liked getting invites from too many people anyway for any event so I guess I never though any deeper about it than 'why the hell did they invite me?' That's an interesting perspective though.

Bridgete said...

I think it's because pregnant women do this "nesting" thing -- around the time they have the shower, some little maternal instinct in them actually wants to organize all the baby stuff. To do that, they need baby stuff to organize. =)

As for the "what could happen", well, again, the timing of the baby shower generally coincides with viability...if the baby is born tomorrow, it'll be a preemie, sure, but it'll survive. And, granted, I love medical shows so I know that a lot COULD happen even when the baby is full-term, but I guess I'm more optimistic than that.

As for the "whoops, I guess it's a boy" issue...that's why I almost always get a gender-neutral gift, like bottles or similar necessities, or maybe I'll go as far as a plain white onesie with an animal on it or something. I think one time I got a really cute girly outfit because I just couldn't resist...luckily the doctors were right and it was a girl, but I will admit that I was a bit anxious about giving that gift.

If you couldn't tell from that response...I love baby showers. I've even gone to ones for people I didn't even know in order to keep a friend company (those were usually, "god, my family is SO annoying, but I have to go to this, can you come with me?). I'm also REALLY good at the games...I think because I've been to so many.

All that aside...I totally understand, I know plenty of people who aren't fans of baby showers, for various reasons. And, if I randomly change my mind about the whole having a kid thing, I won't invite you to the shower...I'll just tell you when the baby is here. ;)

spottedwolf said...

Its a 'mama' thing like Brigete said....and I've heard many a doctor say the baby will usually arrive healthy. Were that not true.....well...look around at all the people and that answers that "what if?".

You shoulda been a man Jenn. Then you'd pay little attention ...except that expected by the whole issue.

Joan said...

I look it as.... there are no guarantees with anything in life, so why not celebrate/indulge in what is now.
Not that I like going to any type of showers, but for a totally different reason. :) I would just rather meet friends/family out and about. The park, restaurant, my house, their get the picture.
Shower games are not fun!

ecokaren said...

We don't have baby showers in Korea. We give gifts when the baby turns 100 days old. Not a day earlier. I'm sure it started long time ago when infant mortality was very high and it wasn't until 100 days after the birth that a baby is declared, 'viable'.

Having said, I think giving gifts after baby is born is more appropriate for a few reasons. 1) you know the sex of the baby. 2) you don't have to worry about a 'what if' scenario 3) you have more selection of crap to buy. Newborn gifts are boring anyway. 4) don't need to go to the baby shower and wonder why people have baby showers when the event didn't even happened yet.

So Jenn, next time someone invites you to another baby shower, just politely decline and tell them to call me. I'll explain to them the Korean etiquette on giving baby gifts.

Suldog said...

Yeah, I'm not generally a superstitious sort, but baby showers always fill me with a feeling of dread. Not that I attend many (any) but I'm of the same mind as you - what if...?

ginger said...

I totally agree with you...I've seen bad things happen that would make me cringe at the thought of a shower if I (God forbid) ever got pregnant.

I know that the purpose is to provide the mother with things she will need for her child, but I don't see the point of the games and stuff. The thought that always runs through my head is, "Oh, great! You've decided to put MORE pressure on the Earth by adding to the population that's already beyond capacity! Good job! I'm sure future generations will love having no trees or grass to make room for your kid!"...but I'm just like that. :)

Rosebud Collection said...

You know Jenn..we did this for Cara..Bought her things to pamper herself with..a few things for baby..Usually our baby showers are at the end of term..we just feel better about it. Sometimes we have had them after the baby is born..
It does give the parents a little start with things..never buy colors pink/blue..I don't care what the test says.
Will be a fun time just being with your dear friend and she will so appreciate seeing you there..Sometimes I think that is the most important part..xoxoRosebud/Carolyn

Almost Precious said...

Hmm, baby showers the perfect excuse to make a very pregnant, totally uncomfortable woman feel like a lumbering cow. All those jokes and remarks like; "Gad, you're as big as a barn." Oh and I love (not really) the game of guess the mom-to-be's tummy measurement. Yeah, there are definitely somethings the party could do without.

Karen said...

I used to hate going to baby showers... until I had a baby... then I knew why everytime the new mother opened a gift, everyone would ooh and ahh. A baby shower lets every woman there who has gone through pregnancy and childbirth a chance to relive what was probably the most wonderful time in their lives. I think giving gifts to the mom is a great idea. Little babies have way more stuff than they really need!