When you mention a shower to a guy, they automatically think hot water, soap in their eyes and the start to a new day. When you mention a shower to a woman, she may contemplate the previous type, but she is just as likely to think of cutesy decorations, finger foods galore and an abundance of fancily wrapped gifts.
Showers are on my mind as I recently attended Danielle’s baby shower. Danielle is the wife of one of Thad’s A-100 classmates who is headed to Nepal with the State Department just about a month before we ship out for China. She and her husband not only face the stress of packing out and moving abroad, but doing so with their first child who will still be a newborn at that point.
I’ve long had mixed feelings about showers, both bridal and baby. I love to plan and prepare for a great gathering and am thrilled to throw them for close friends and relatives. Attending showers as a guest, on the other hand, can be both awkward and unnerving.
One of my main reservations about showers is the “game” part of the evening. Treat are good. Gifts are better. Games are bad. Often, shower attendees come from various social circles within the honored guest’s life. This means that a single shower may contain co-workers, church folks, family members and close friends. Finding a game that fits with the occasion and includes all of those attending is no easy task.
Shower games range from those focused on the soon-to-be mother, such as everyone cutting a length of ribbon at their best guess of said-mother’s current size (How fun can it be, late in a pregnancy, to have your closest friends and family cut off pieces of ribbon more than double your actual girth?) to the guest-focused ones where attendees are blindfolded, given a baby doll and must race against others to correctly diaper it. (This is a horrible adult version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey!) In one of the less stressful games, Bingo cards are passed out and gift are checked off in hopes of getting the first row of five. This is much more up my alley.
I was as pleased as a florist on Valentine’s Day when today’s shower came and went without a single game being played. While there was a Martha Stewart-worthy spread of hors d’oeuvres and beautifully wrapped presents, in lieu of games we were entertained with a little art project. (My art skills leave a lot to be desired. As a teacher, I loved to draw pictures on the board to go along with upcoming holidays, assignments or activities at the school, but each and every stick-figure-laden scene was accompanied by a slew of arrows connected to labels and explanations, otherwise what I envisioned as artwork to rival Van Gogh would be unrecognizable to your average eighth grader.)
But back to the baby shower art project. With plain white onesies in hand (these were pre “Hey There Delilah” days) and a puffy paint selection to rival that of any mid-level crafter’s supply, we were creating outfits for the soon-to-arrive newbie! While I had a great time creating mine, it didn’t do my ego any good that the Erin and her art degree were creating a masterpiece next to me. Together, we may have put a little pressure on this yet to be born child, as our onesies included a shout-out for both Peace Corps and the Foreign Service. Quality artwork/lettering like Erin’s or mediocre design like mine, any way you cut it, I always enjoy self-directed project over an awkward game with people I met minutes before.
Inevitably, baby shower talk often turns to, imagine this, babies! Having little to no experience with the under two-set, I never have much to contribute to these conversations. I can talk about Malvolio, the pot-bellied pig we had for several years before joining Peace Corps, or Mabel, our goofy basset hound, but I’ve found people don’t really care for the implied connection between pigs, dogs and babies. I mostly spend my time explaining that although Thad and I have been married for thirteen years, we have, up to this point, chosen other endeavors, such as Peace Corps, careers and travel, over babies. While this discussion is frequently greeted with a chorus of “ohhh’s”, I have often wanted to switch it up a bit. I think if just busted out with crocodile tears and concocted a story about how we couldn’t have kids, it would make the whole process a bit more entertaining, at least on my end! (Although, I do have to say that being married for over a decade and childless by choice is much more common in the DC area than it was in Idaho.)
I’ve attended numerous showers, both bridal and baby, over the years. If I am the planner, I am very in to the whole process and love all that they entail. As an attender, I am usually a bit skeptical going in to the event, but even when there are games that make me feel a bit like an awkward teenager, I almost always leave glad that I attended. A group of women gathered to celebrate a new life stage, whether it be a marriage or a new addition to a family, is an afternoon well spent. Scrumptious food and drink ease the ungainliness of the initial greetings, I usually end up meeting and chatting with fascinating new people, and it is fabulous to celebrate the good fortune of friends and family. Shower on, ladies, shower on!