Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Product of Greediness

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.


Rhonda said...

I must admit. I am quite surprised at second baby showers too.

I prefer to by a baby gift for a subsequent pregnancy, if I am very close to the mother.

Karen said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I think it's just one more example of how materialistic our society has become.

Mrs. N. said...

Because you know I love you, I feel I can disagree just a tad, although I do agree that our culture today is a greedy one. I think that each baby should be celebrated...perhaps not with a formal shower, but maybe a dipe and wipes shower or a sip and see or some way to honor that particular pregnancy and baby because each one is special. When our daughter was born, we were given a few showers by different groups of friends and two family showers (his in GA and mine in PA). When pregnant with our boy and living half way around the country our new friends gave us a shower for him which came after he was born and that was lovely too. I admit, I reg. for both showers because I was asked to do so...but I was extremely practically and didn't reg. for anything I already had. I even asked the hostess to put on the invite that hand-me-downs or no gifts were fine as well, but she refused. :-)

Mocha with Linda said...

Wise words, my friends. I get weary of registries as well. It's fine to choose the big things for the hostesses or family, but when they start registering for every thermometer and burp pad and rattle, it gets a little ridiculous and makes me feel pressured.

luvmy4sons said...

I was so embarrassed when my church wanted to throw me a shower for my THIRD son way back...I was new to the church...I kept saying that it wasn't necessary...blah blah blah but they insisted. I conceded but it felt WRONG! I would have no problem turning down such shower invitations. Special circumstances among family and CLOSE friends is one thing.

Crystal said...

I do agree with Mrs N about each child being celebrated! My church threw me a diapers and wipes shower for baby boy #2 but we didn't attend this church when Luke was born. The church's policy is actually one shower per mother.. and since I had never had a shower there, they gave me my 'one'! (and boy am I thankful for all of those diapers!) My mom also threw me a small shower with family and friends (10 people in attendance) for Eli. I did get some great things for him like a few monogrammed burp cloths and 2diaper bags that are especially for him. We're definitely reusing all of Luke's things (all of my big items are sage green for the sole purpose of using them for either gender!) but it's nice to have a few things that are specially for Eli! I did register for new bedding but that was only because grandparents wanted to buy it and it was easier than trying to describe what I wanted! And since Luke still sleeps in his crib, we needed new bedding and a few new crib sheets. :)

Kellye said...

Dare I ask who is having a third shower that you know of, if that is the case?

The Young's said...

Oh girl...I am SO with you and I feel SO OBLIGATED!! I hate that!!! Thanks for posting about this...at least I know I'm not alone!! :) Have a great weekend!

Andrea said...

I agree with everything you said. For second (or third or fourth) babies, yes they are special -- and that's where close friends and family can present them with gifts when they go to visit them for the first time. But an actual shower with registries and all? Nah.

Rachel said...

I loved this post! When I found out I was having a 2nd boy, I wanted a shower because everyone else seemed to be getting a shower for their second. I didn't get one, and I'm glad I didn't. People still gave my baby gifts. I did register, though. I was due around Christmas time, so this helped our parents when they were selectiing our gifts.
I'm so glad I got to meet you at the pj party! I had so much fun with you girls!