Baby Showers Bum Me Out

Baby showers bum me out. I get bummed out because as I sit there I know that, more than likely, that will never be me.

I have that thought not for the reasons you might think. I actually don’t want kids. At least not now and not in the foreseeable future. I’ve been told that might change, but I’m thirty-thousand years old, and I have yet to hear a peep out of the biological clock that has allegedly been taking up space in my abdomen. In fact, rumor has it that when I was little I bragged to my mother that when I grew up, I was going to be like my Aunt Marge and not have kids and not get married and just live with my boyfriend forever and ever. In the East Village, of course.

That being said, I feel the same way at bridal showers, and again, it’s not for the reasons most people would assume. I am realistic enough to understand that I might never get married. But here’s the truth as I now know it: there are a lot of things on my Life’s To Do List that if I don’t accomplish before I die, I will be very sad and truly disappointed. But, turns out, marriage isn’t one of them. If it happens, cool. Of course, I would like to find my person. But if I live life being happy and having fun and I accomplish the goals and dreams I have but never did find that person, I’m GOOD. I will die happy.

the one

So that we are crystal clear, it’s not idea that I will never be the mom-to-be or the fear that I may never be the bride-to-be that is such a buzz kill. What bums me out is the fact that, if I don’t do either of those things, get married and/or have a baby, there will never be a good enough reason for my friends and family to circle up and celebrate the shit out of me and my accomplishment, complete with fun signature cocktails, Pinterest-y party decorations, and, let’s get down to brass tacks here, presents.

This isn’t the self-defeating talk of, “Oh, sad face. I’m never getting married. Sadder face, I’m never having babies.” That’s just the reality of being a lady in America. That sadly as a woman, seemingly nothing you do in this life garners quite as much fanfare as getting married and having babies. I know that no one wants to hear that, and it’s tempting to just write me off as a Bitter Betty. But, come on. Really. Prove me wrong. I want you to. Ladies, when was the last time you threw a friend a “Way to Work Your Ass for that Major Promotion” Shower or “Girl, You Just Bought a Home on a Single Income” Shower? I think we all know, that if I became the CEO of Apple tomorrow, yes, there may be congratulatory calls and emails, a dinner and drinks here or there, but I highly doubt there will be a shower in the traditional sense.

And as I write this, I KNOW there are ladies out there (and I’d wager to guess they’d be the same ladies who’ve been on the receiving end of a shower or two) who will have a million and one arguments as to why showers are specifically for marriage and babies, that they are getting things they need, and blee blah blah. I challenge that notion and will point out that these days just about no one is leaving their parents’ house and going directly to their new married home. It’s not like the old days where you literally owned nothing so you very literally NEEDED the gifts and money. You were just starting out. No, now it’s just an opportunity to upgrade the shit you already have. So we can dismiss the idea that they are completely necessary. We do it because they are a part of the celebratory tradition. And they are (supposed to be) fun. And by your 20th bridal shower/wedding/baby shower, you start to get frustrated. Why do I have to give you a gift because you are getting married? You found eternal and everlasting love. Isn’t that enough? You need a KitchenAid mixer too? I’m the one, who statistically, may die alone. Where’s my gift?

I know what you are thinking, that I sound like Carrie Bradshaw right now, and you’re not wrong. That was one of the few episodes of Sex and the City that I actually related to (all the expensive shoe talk, condo buying, and dating successful men was beyond my frame of reference). If you don’t know the episode I’m talking about, look into it. Carrie poses the question that I guess single woman are not supposed to ask (because so few women do), “So what, if I never get married or never have a baby, I get bupkis?” She also points out the obvious: “Think about it, if you are single, after graduation, there are no occasions were people celebrate you. And don’t give me birthdays, everyone has a birthday so that’s a wash.”

It was with all of these social injustices churning in my head, paired with the fact that I was coming up on a big birthday with neither a husband nor children on the horizon, that I decided to take a stand. I got up on my sassy soapbox, and I decided that I was going to throw myself a birthday party and that every step of the way, I was going to treat the whole thing like some kind of wedding or shower in a grand, tongue-in-cheek manner (and by “grand,” I mean on a modest, single-income budget). My birthday is exactly two months after Christmas, so right after New Years, I mailed out save the dates, informing my friends that the “formal invite” would follow. And I did not use the phrase “formal invite” loosely. Never one to be afraid of getting crafty, I put my design school degree to work on making formal, handmade invitiations.

At the bottom of the invite, I let my guests know about my registry. OH yeah. I “registered” for gifts. Why should the engaged and “with child” have all the fun of telling people exactly what gifts people should buy them? I registered at Facebook and Pinterest, which really was just a collection of photos and links to stuff I’d like to have, e.g. a pair of Converse sneakers I saw at Target, $6 lip balm from Body Shop that I’m too cheap to buy for myself, a mini food processor because I didn’t have one at the time and seemed like a grown up thing to ask for. I started a whole Pinterest board for the event, complete with paper decorations fitting the black, white, and pink theme, and super adorable and totally labor intensive finger foods. To be honest, there were times when my inner mean girl would rear her bitchy head with thoughts like, “Oh, this is stupid. You can’t make a big deal out of yourself. Who do you think you are? Just stop before you embarrass yourself.” But lucky for me, I am above all else principled and was stubborn about making my point and didn’t back down (from myself). I just leaned into the ridiculousness and took it over the top at every opportunity.

Party set up is my stone cold JAM.  I live for that shit.
Party set up is my stone cold JAM. I live for that shit.
I have loved few things in this life more than I loved those pink pom poms hanging from the ceiling.
I have loved few things in this life more than I loved those pink pom poms hanging from the ceiling.

And something really unexpected and wonderful happened; my friends leaned into the ridiculous just as hard. I’ll tell you what, my friends are THE GREATEST PEOPLE EVER because they were 100% down with the whole thing. They played along every step of the way, to the point that almost everyone showed up with a gift from the registry. I genuinely did not expect that. I was just trying to be funny. They even went as far as to push for the whole gift opening ceremony that we’ve all had to suffer sit through at no less than 20 showers. Complete with the designated indentured servant/best friend taking notes on who gave what gift, you know, for the thank you cards. They all just went with it and it made for one of the best nights of my life. It was so much fun; I felt so much love and support that night. It was amazing, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. I was amazed at how these people got behind something I wanted to do and knocked it out of the park. It was so, so great.

That is the face of a girl who is super psyched about a pair of Chuck Taylors.
That is the face of a girl who is super psyched about a pair of Chuck Taylors.
Best. Friends.  EVER.
Best. Friends. EVER.

The reality is that, some women, whether by choice or by circumstance, will never get married or have babies. And how sad that, because of that fact, they may never have the experience of having the people nearest and dearest to them come together to celebrate them. That’s what bums me out. Not the idea of never having children or never running into the love of my life. But the idea of never doing something worthy enough of a big party and special attention. Lucky for me, I’m just ballsy enough to have pushed the envelope. And extra lucky for me, I have the kinds of friends who jumped on the bandwagon of my self-imposed “Birthday Shower.”

Ms. Bradshaw summed up my feeling on the subject perfectly in just a couple of sentences.
“I’m thrilled to give you gifts to celebrate your life. I just think it stinks that single people get left out of it.” So, come on, ladies (and gents, if you’re the kind of gent that likes to throw showers), let’s be better. Better to ourselves and better to each other.

Everyone needs a shower.

16 thoughts on “Baby Showers Bum Me Out

  1. This was fantastic. I am so glad there are Raina’s in the world who can provide true perspective and let others see how many “others” choose to be. Thank you – Emily

  2. That is beautiful. You have the skills and attitude to be one of the best writer ever live. God Blessing Always…

    Rev. Gregory Clemens.

  3. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate myself. What would that look like? I had a child in 1969 that moved home after his apartment fire & totaled my car. So the party registry would be something like cash only or a for hire hit man. Look forward to your writings & time for deep thoughts with Raina.

  4. My dear Raina, your words have been my thoughts for the past couple years. I had accepted that I was going to be alone and childless forever, and I tried to be happy and okay with that. The babyshower episode of Sex and the City was also one of my faves, and the wedding one about the stress and anxiety of the ‘plus one’ when you’re single!! I thought I was the only woman on Earth not born with the ‘motherly gene’ or who hadn’t planned her wedding out in detail since she was a little girl. I always wanted to be in love, but the whole marriage and baby thing were not on the top of my list (and I literally did have a list!). Having fun traveling and doing new things was… Like riding in a limo for the first time, go water skiing, get a tattoo, go to Ireland. Love had not worked out for me more times than I could count, so I decided I was going to make the most of my party of one, and live life to fullest and spontaneously do things and go places on a whim. And then it finally happened and I found ‘the one’, and now my whole life has changed and I’m planning things I never thought I’d be doing or that were even possible. You and I are the same age, so don’t ever give up hope or think there’s anything wrong with you. Everyone’s path in life is different, and social media makes it very hard to not compare ourselves to others, but don’t. I truly believe you have wonderful exciting things in front of you! And that you’re soulmate is still out there. You won’t cross paths until the time is right, but when it does happen, it will be well worth the wait and you’ll be ready 🙂

      1. Haha I totally remember us doing ‘I’m so pretty’ and ‘Officer Krumke’ from West Side Story on the record player in my living room 🙂 I still love a good show tune!!!

  5. I happily bought those Chuck Taylor’s and the look on your face was priceless! I never did have that “hey I bought a house on a single ladie’s income” party…but if I ever do you will be the one to help me decorate. You can make paper peonies, right?

  6. First let me say, well said!! Speaking from experience of both bridal and baby showers, I feel that I would choose a a “self” shower party all day long. Second and most important…if you can’t celebrate you, then who can?? Awesome! This was quite a refreshing blog post today. Keep the good stuff coming.

  7. “A women’s right to shoe”, season 6, episode 9.
    Now that I have a chance to chime in with a comment, again, thank you! Us single girls are NOT running around sitting waiting for the right man, or when the bambino is going to pop out. Instead, I am happy with my Cabbage Patch kids being comfortably tucked away where they should be, back in Rochester. And marriage, no I don’t have a secret Pinterest board for my fantasy wedding. If and when it does happen, city hall.
    You said it best, “That’s what bums me out. Not the idea of never having children or never running into the love of my life.”

  8. As usual another blog that I truly enjoy. I agree with you.. I have been to so many baby showers wedding showers and some of them was for the very same person and even though I did have a child and I was married I never had any of those showers..oh well..stay true to it..I will need to take a page out of your book…I WILL CELEBRATE ME..even if it is just me at the party..

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