Fortunately for me, I haven’t attended a baby shower for years. Fortunately, not because I’m not happy for any friends or family having children, but because these gatherings can be painful. And it sounds like they might have become a little more nightmarish. Disclosure necessary here – I do not have any children.
Just the other day, I overheard a colleague talking about everything that she had to arrange for an expectant friend. In my experience, these have always happened at someone’s home or more awkwardly in a boardroom with colleagues.
Another agrees – ‘In my circle of friends we always have a party at someone’s house and everyone brings food and gifts and it’s a unisex event (because men are parents too!) and usually ends up with everyone but the mother to be getting rather sozzled. Good photos, good friends, good memories, good gifts, but rarely costing any single person or couple more than R500.’
Everyone would pool in to help with costs and arrange. Not sexy and great for the ‘gram but effective and budget-friendly.
Back to the co-worker whose conversation I eavesdropped on... She doesn’t have children and described what she is expected to put together. It is set to cost her over R6 000. (Another colleague spent over R 7000 ‘for the venue, catering, champagne, a plating fee for cake and corkage, and flowers and favours for guests).
This is to cover the venue and cost per head of each of the 20 guests. This does not include a cake, which can cost anything from R450 to R800 for a special creation as well as thank you gifts and party favours.
Another colleague chimed in that beyond that, organisers are now also supposed to buy a dress for the mom-to-be to change to into at the event – where it’s expected that there will be a photo booth or decorated wall where guests can take pics.
And guests need to purchase gifts from a registry. Mothers, don’t drag me on social media but I never thought that it was possible to have too many baby growers, blankets or burping cloths?
When I asked my colleague why she thought babyshowers were important, she said she felt that it was a way for single and unmarried moms in particular to feel loved and appreciated and going big as they wouldn’t have experienced a wedding. She feels that organising this event is like a mini version of a wedding and also perhaps just part of a growing trend.
‘Social media brings with it the pressure of living fabulously and having an excuse to go big, and so any small intimate events are now turned into a photo opportunity and a chance to experience a bit of glamour for a few hours.’ She does though believe that they do still have a place today – ‘They are a great way for friends to help the mommy-to-be get some stuff in preparation for the little one's arrival – like having a housewarming.’
She adds, ‘I’m not sure if you should have another one after the first child because by then you should know what to expect, when you are expecting. I like the idea of having one for someone you love, but I don’t like the pressure that comes with the assumption that there will automatically be one. I see them as a gift from the ones who love you, not an obligation.’
I agree with another colleague who says – ‘If we are being perfectly honest, I really hate baby showers - the idea of banishing the father of the child to a pub while a group of women cluck over onesies that mostly look the same – and then trading horror birth/breastfeeding stories is not my idea of fun.’
Does that make us sound selfish?
I was always of the school of thought that you organise gatherings for the benefit of the person being celebrated as well as to make sure the guests also have a good time.
And that’s why I welcome ‘push parties’ (no shade to caesarean births) where the father and other genders are welcome to attend. Described by Vogue they are less traditional, held closer to the baby’s arrival with ‘no nappy or nipple talk required’ and generally for children who come after the firstborn. I think they would work quite well for the first baby too?
The thing is, I don’t think anyone is averse to making a fuss over the mom-to-be and the new life she’s expecting.
I certainly am not. I am also fully aware that the day is not about me but I find it distressing when women are placed or place themselves under unnecessary pressure to organise OTT events they can barely afford. Especially when the cost is not spread across any or many friends/family or even guests.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on W24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of W24.