Two of my girlfriends have offered to host a baby shower for us recently, and in both cases I’ve politely but firmly declined. My friends think I’m a little nuts, but they know me and respect my opinions and there will be no showers. (I hosted a baby shower for one of them – at her request – and attended a bridal shower for the other, so they know that I respect their wishes and desires too). I know that my friends offered to host a shower because they love me, but it would have made me miserable, and I’m so glad that I didn’t let myself get pressured into doing something just because everybody else does it.
Yesterday I was wasting time online, and came across some baby forum where expectant moms were chatting about all sorts of stuff. One lady wrote that she was looking for ideas on how to tell people that she just wanted cash or gift cards at her baby shower, because she wants to buy a Bugaboo stroller for $800, and figured that getting money from her friends would help with that lofty goal.
Oh. My. Goodness. This, my friends, is why we are not registering for baby gifts and why we do not want a baby shower. The world has gone freaking crazy. 90% of the stuff we think we need in order to raise a baby is not a need at all – just a cleverly marketed want. For two years while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, I watched mothers in East Africa raise their infants with little more than a large square of cloth to secure the baby to their backs, a few more squares to serve as diapers, and an ample supply of breast milk. No cribs, no strollers, no changing tables, no mobiles, no coordinating outfits…
To the lady who wants the $800 stroller, I truly feel sorry for you. You honestly have no idea what is important in life. And the fact that you want your friends and family to help you purchase this crazy piece of rampant consumerism shows that you have little understanding of the value of friendship or the meaning of gifts.
Obviously I know that this lady is isn’t representative of everyone who registers for baby gifts and has baby showers. But it’s just an extreme form of the same thing. People honestly don’t need most of the stuff that they register for when they’re having a baby. As for the shower, I’m not at all opposed to the idea of a party where people gather to celebrate a new baby’s arrival. But I have never been to a shower where the primary focus was anything other than the gifts, which is why I have such a distaste for them.
Several friends have already given us hand-me-downs from their own children, which we will pass on to other friends or family once we don’t need them anymore. And we will be ever so grateful for any other gifts that we get for this baby. But I honestly don’t expect gifts from anyone. Having a baby (just like having a birthday or getting married) doesn’t entitle a person to a whole pile of gifts. Most people – myself included – enjoy giving gifts. But nobody should ever expect gifts. That’s my two (or maybe twenty…) cents.