Rites of passage
Unexpected insight from my first baby shower
This past weekend, I attended my very first baby shower. Katie informed me that not having attended a baby shower until my 40s could be considered the equivalent of never having seen the ocean or been to a circus. This was a timehonored female rite of passage and I had been missing out.
I was shocked to see her rushing to make sure we left the house on time. When I questioned her uncharacteristic attention to punctuality, she explained that baby shower etiquette ranks right up there with the same requirements for weddings and funerals.
She correctly noted that I was dragging my feet and I confessed that despite how much I love the mom-to-be, the thought of sitting around a living room with a group of women cooing over baby clothes and tiny diapers was just not my ideal afternoon.
“Too bad,” she said. “Would you miss her wedding or funeral? Then you can’t miss her baby shower! And you have to change your shoes.”
It was lost on me how a few hours spent critiquing baby gifts and drinking punch was that big of a deal. I had thought of the event as a silly tradition that ultimately would just end in my friend’s poor husband having to unload an entire car of gifts when UPS would have been so much simpler.
Katie simply shook her head at my explanation and said, “You will love it. You’ll see.”
Once we arrived, it was evident that my stereotype was outdated and shallow. The old school baby showers that I had seen on television have evolved. Yes, all the women were dressed beautifully and the house was decorated perfectly. But the level of organization and thought that had gone into this day would have made NASA envious.
The hosts had literally thought of everything. There was a cake that someone had spent hours decorating. On one table there were cards numbered 1 through 18, representing the birthdays of the little one. We each picked a year and wrote a message that wouldn’t be opened until that particular birthday.
On another table were envelopes so that we could go ahead and write our address for the thank-you notes so as to save the future mom the hassle. The host had asked all the guests ahead of time to send in a photo along with a favorite story from childhood or words of advice and she compiled them all into an iBook for the mom to keep as a souvenir. Brilliant!
By the time came to open gifts, I was so intoxicated with food, punch and hilarious stories of new moms and near baby disasters that I was cooing along with everyone else.
The baby clothes really are freaking cute. And who knew they made a special baby air temperature monitor so that the baby’s room stays just right?
The house was filled with women of all ages. Some I had known for years and some I met for the first time. In that room, nearly every kind of woman was represented. But the one thing we all had in common was that we all adore this new mom and this baby who is on the way.
There is something truly magical about women of all types and from all backgrounds and life experiences coming together in once place to celebrate and honor the passage into motherhood.
At one point, when I started to tear up, I noticed that Katie had seen it and a look of righteous smugness swept across her face.
I chose the card for the baby’s 13th birthday and wrote her a message. One day, I am going to tell her about her baby shower and how it reminded me of one of life’s most important lessons:
Never assume you understand the beauty of something until you have seen it for yourself.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter