Last Sunday I attended one of the best baby showers ever. This is amazing for me to say because I tend to be a cynical about the fuss people make over whether to buy pink or blue clothes (the baby doesn't care!), games that force me out of my seat and ladies discussing diaper issues.
But when I was asked to decorate for the shower of one of my lifelong friends, I didn't hesitate.
I thought of pink roses and brown teddy bears, floating balloons and tiny candles. Her sister, a professional caterer, laid out a spread of comfort foods. A sister-in-law brought the cake. Her mother, undaunted by a broken foot, rolled in sitting in a wheelchair, a willing helper toting a large bag of games behind her. Both my friend's grandmother and grandmother-in-law were in attendance, beautiful and witty. A host of relatives and friends provided extra help and comic relief.
The air was festive. There was a shower crasher, who slunk in late whispering, "I didn't get the invitation, but someone told me about it. Hope it's OK!" And there was an understandably grumpy young boy who sat with a slightly tortured look on his face until an uncle came and picked him up.
There was her proud father, who worked the crowd. Ever the jokester, he later remarked with tongue in cheek, "Well that was my very first shower, so I'm really not sure if I had fun or not."
Her mother's games were surprisingly fun, even challenging. In one we popped balloons by sitting on them, and then read the messages that had been hidden inside. We had to guess the prices of baby items and the circumference of my friend's stomach. We then played musical babydoll. If you were holding the doll when the music stopped, you had to put change into a piggy bank or give some baby advice, or both.
A friend once told me about attending an expensive and classy baby shower for a wealthy couple that had cost thousands of dollars. The stress of buying the right gift, putting in a certain amount of money for the couple, even finding the perfect outfit for the occasional had seemed to overshadow the joy of the coming baby.
At this shower, no one cared if you had jeans and T-shirt on or your Sunday best. There were tons of gifts, lots of laughter and teasing, good eats and the often overlooked blessing of shared clean-up duties.
It was all about the celebration of this couple's journey to parenthood. The mother-to-be seemed to glow with life, and we reveled in her joy.
The womanly ritual we had all attended countless times in our lives took on meaning yet again. For those moments, the wear and tear of a stressful and imperfect world seemed to fade, and what emerged was a tender circle of light, full of warmth and good wishes.
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc, is a therapist at Richmont/CBI Counseling Center. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.