by Claire van Ryn.
Baby showers. Love them or hate them, they’re a part of our culture, a rite of passage on the path to parenthood.
When I was pregnant with my first, I had four baby showers. I kid you not. There was one thrown by my workplace, another by my husband’s workplace, one by our family and one by my friends. It was such a huge outpouring of support, I felt overwhelmed if a little guilty at all the stuff that gradually filled the nursery to brimming.
I’ve since realised that there’s so much more to baby showers than gifts. Baby showers knit a community together in preparation for a little one that is being knitted together in the womb. That is such a beautiful thing. And I’ve heard pregnant mummas turn down the offer of a baby shower because they felt guilty of all that generosity being bestowed on one who – truthfully – was financially able to handle it. But, beautiful mummas-to-be, that’s not all it’s about.
To better articulate the all-round wonderful thing that is imparted in a baby shower, I asked half a dozen women what motivates them to attend or throw a baby shower…
“To celebrate initially but also to establish the relationship so that later, when things get tough, the parents have a group of supporters she can call on. A bit like a wedding. The same people who celebrate with us initially are the ones who can hold us to account later on. Not that parents generally need to be held accountable. But they do need support. During the months after giving birth, I have felt more vulnerable and damaged than I thought possible. On both occasions I needed a lot of help.”
“To share in the delight of new life, but also to pass on the collective wisdom of motherhood. Lots of parties have an opportunity to write ‘one thing I wish I knew’ or similar statements for the new parents to read later. Parenthood is wonderful but hard work and sharing our stories helps to normalise the tough days and make it easier to reach out for help.”
“Being pregnant is so much about the joyous, nervous anticipation of meeting a new little person and also an extension of our family and community. A baby shower is a community expectantly anticipating an addition to our community, our extended family.
My favourite part of a baby shower is sharing those precious moments of welcoming a child into the world. The moments are diverse, beautiful, sometimes heart-breaking but always inspiring.”
“I love going to baby showers because I like being part of a gathering that uplifts, encourages, nurtures, inspires and excites the mother. It is often a time when we as women feel the most amount of emotions possible; scared, happy, nervous, excited! What better way to encourage her than to throw a party that celebrates her and the amazing baby growing inside.
Pampering, good food and presents are all part of a baby shower but most importantly I think it should be about encouragement and building confidence.”
“For me, it’s all about the gifts! I love to browse and labour over which cute baby things the expectant mother might like or need. It’s lovely to see them open all the wrapping and realise this baby thing is actually happening! But then, after the baby is born, I get so much delight out of seeing the newborn in a onesie I picked out or a bunny rug I made for them. It’s symbolic of a little person being born into a community of people that embrace them before they are even born. A symbol that they are cared about before they are even out in the big, wide world.”
“Before I had my own baby, going to a baby shower was all about the excitement, anticipation and wonder of a new little person entering the world. After experiencing the blessing of a baby shower myself, I found a shift in my thinking when attending others. The support, encouragement, practical advice, parenting ideas shared, the special gifts and the practical ones, plus the excitement from others at my baby shower eased any of my concerns or nerves entering motherhood. It created more excitement in the realities of having my baby. I gained the feeling of real support, being surrounded by people I knew would be there to share in the joys and challenges of the unknown.
Experiencing a baby shower myself added more thoughtfulness to my motivation in attending a baby shower. Now I don’t only go with excitement, anticipation and wonder, I attend with thoughtfulness and a readiness to share practical ideas, pamper, support, encourage and make the mother-to-be feel empowered and blessed. I love focussing on what a joy and a beautiful gift their new little life is. I have to say, it’s one of my most favourite celebrations!”
“Having been blessed by an amazing baby shower for my first child, I have on a couple of occasions been able to be part of organising them for friends. It has been such a privilege to spoil my friends with complete, unadulterated love. In some way to impart the love you have been shown, and the excitement that you have known in the months and weeks leading up to having your baby, on someone else. Even to create memories for them, and also to ‘set them up’ as it were, with an array of baby gear that they may not have otherwise bought themselves.”
So that, you gorgeous, glowing mothers-to-be, is why we do baby showers. Why we love to shower love, support and goodies on you at this most precious time in your life.