I realize that there are many quaint traditions that have gone by the wayside in today's society. We have become lax about many social niceties, such as thank you notes and being bothered to actually RSVP when requested. Although these things bother me, they don't shock me as much as seeing someone wearing white shoes after Labor Day and before Easter, or brides who print where they are registered on their wedding invitations.
But I digress.
Am I the only person who has noticed an increase in the number of baby showers given for women having their second (or third...or fourth) child? I was brought up with an understanding that baby showers for the first child were perfectly acceptable and appreciated. New parents have absolutely nothing that they will need, and showers are a perfect opportunity to help them get started.
But how many Boppy pillows, bouncy seats and strollers can one family need? Is there really a need to have a shower for the second child? And it's not like I'm receiving invitations to diaper showers (which all parents need more of, no matter how many children they have!). These are printed invitations to full blown baby showers, complete with where the mother-to-be is registered. (And just for the record, mother-to-be isn't really accurate, since if there is already a child at home, she is already a mother.)
What is there to register for? The brand of diapers that you prefer???
Once you have all the big items for the first baby (crib, stroller, etc), there is really nothing else that you need. Particularly if your children are 4 years apart or less. You should already have bedding, burp cloths, onesies, clothes and all the other stuff that you need to keep a newborn happy.
Having said all of that, there are three exceptions to the rule that make second baby showers perfectly acceptable. The first is if there is a large gap between children. Sometimes it's planned, but more often than not it's a big surprise. As in "Surprise! Your youngest child is 14 and you are now having another one!". Most parents have either sold or given away all the baby furniture and accoutrements. In this situation, a baby shower is a necessary event. These parents are effectively starting over in the baby department, and I gladly attend these events.
The second exception is if all previous children are one gender, and the new baby will be a different one. In this case, a small shower of very close friends and family is a lovely idea. No one wants to dress the new baby girl in blue, so this is the perfect opportunity for guests to bring pink clothes and blankets. But I think this shower should still be small and intimate.
The last exception is if twins are expected. Obviously there will be a need for another crib, stroller, etc, and having a shower is the perfect way for friends to help out.
I know that I am not alone in feeling this way, but I still keep receiving the invitations. I was discussing this with a friend at work last week, because she was dreading a second shower that she felt obligated to attend. She had asked the person throwing the shower why they were having it for the second child of the same sex, and what her friend said gave me pause. She said that she knew it wasn't really socially acceptable, but that everyone else was doing it, so why not?
I guess this means that I can start registering my kids for new school clothes each year. Maybe I'll go one step further and throw this Beginning of School Shower for myself, so I don't have to wait for a close friend to do it for me. This would really take the pressure off my wallet if everyone else would just pitch in each year and buy all of Nathan and Grace's school supplies and clothes. I could send invitations with their supply lists, and size clothing that they will need. I should probably specify brands as well, so I don't get any cheap stuff.
Okay, I'm slowly stepping away from the edge now.
It just seems like second showers are just a product of the greediness of our society. Any opportunity to "get something" for free (particularly when there is a registry involved) is deemed appropriate these days. I'm certainly not saying that showers (or registries) are a bad thing. I had wedding and baby showers, and they were wonderful expressions of love and affection by my friends and family. They helped me get started, first in my marriage and then when I had Nathan. I received many gifts that were the product of mom testing, and was able to benefit from wise women who had been through it before. I love bringing hand sewn quilts to showers and participating in this rite of passage.
I even had a small shower given to me by the wonderful ladies I work with when I had Grace, and they outfitted me in more pink than I could shake a stick at! It was a welcome and appreciated gesture, but it was intended to provide me with things that I did not have. Newborns do not care if they are sleeping on blue or pink sheets. I reused a ton of Nathan's layette with Grace, and dressed her in the cute, pink stuff when we went out. His old stroller/travel system was blue, but who cared? I had a stroller and infant car seat.
I just have a hard time understanding the mentality of people who do this. And unless the shower is a surprise, the mother would have had a conversation with the person throwing it to decide on a date. That would be the time to graciously thank the friend for the thought, and to suggest if they want to do something for the new baby, that maybe a small diaper shower would be more appropriate. So to lay the blame at the feet of the person giving the shower is not truly accurate. The mother-to-be should have nipped it in the bud long before an planning was started.
My solution to the influx of invitations to these tacky showers is to RSVP my regrets, and then to deliver a package of diapers to the new mother at some point before the baby is born, or send them with someone who is planning to attend the shower. To not send a gift to a shower to which I am invited rubs against the social grain of politeness, so I would not be crass enough to snub the mother-to-be, but it is my prerogative to choose the type of gift. But you can be sure that I will not be perusing the registry list, agonizing over which item to purchase. It's just tacky.