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Why I Attend Every Baby Shower I'm Invited To

Photograph by Twenty20

"I hate baby showers," my best friend says with a theatrical eye roll. "The stupid games, the cupcakes, the presents everyone has to ooh and ahh over. It's so BORING. I'm not going."

I nod because I get it. In the past 10 years, I've attended over two dozen baby showers, including my own. They're all basically the same and have a justifiably bad reputation for being saccharine get-togethers where no one has fun, primarily because guests feel like hostages who are served nothing but finger sandwiches and cookies shaped like baby booties.

Like everyone else, there are many things I could be doing instead of attending the baby shower this weekend for a friend. But I RSVP'ed yes without hesitation, even though I had to arrange childcare for my son and reschedule my daughter's piano lesson.

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I agreed to attend even though I will have to get dressed up on a Sunday afternoon and I'll probably come home hungry. I actually never considered saying no, even though the guest of honor is not one of my closest friends. I have no doubt she would not hold a grudge if I skipped the festivities.

I'll never forget how honored I felt to have my friends pledging to love and support me and my growing family. Every new mother deserves to have that feeling.

In other words, there was no real obligation to attend the party. I could easily take a pass.

But I'd said yes because it's important to me that I show up for other women. This showing up obligation includes supporting the women who are entering a life phase that already feels like old hat to me, the mom of a 7-year old. Now that I'm immersed in the stuff of older kids, like reading and team sports, I hardly remember being pregnant with my first.

But I remember my baby shower. I keep a picture of that afternoon pinned to a board above my desk. It was July 2008. My swollen face is ringed with the smiling faces of the women who gave up a beautiful summer afternoon to gift my baby onesies and board books. Yes, we had cucumber sandwiches, spinach salad and sparkling lemonade. And I opened all my presents while everyone looked on. I'll never forget how honored I felt to have my friends pledging to love and support me and my growing family.

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Every new mother deserves to have that feeling.

For me, it's both an honor and a privilege to attend these gatherings. So I attend every single one, unless I am out of town. It's how I pay it forward to women whose rites of passage are just as important as mine.

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