Everyone is doing it. I mean that quite literally- they’re doing it and they’re having babies as a result. I knew this day was coming, but somehow it still managed to sneak up on me. Up until a year ago or so, I even pictured myself being one of them. But now, as I am thrust into the center of Mommyville, I’ve come to understand why I am not.
It’s all too common to sort parents and non-parents into two distinct categories; those who love children and those who hate children. Oh, if only it were that simple. While its true that not everyone is fond of kids, some of those people are- surprise surprise- parents. Sure, they love their own children, but children in general? Nope. And the reverse is true as well. A lot of us DINKs love kids and our reasons behind not having them are much more complex than disdain.
There is a special place where these two groups of people, along with their stereotypes and misconceptions, come together. And that event is called a baby shower.
Women who are single (spinsters), childless (oh you poor thing), childfree (hates kids), and mothers (of course) all sit together in one small space and celebrate the soon-to-be-mom and baby. Sounds rough? It can be. I happen to enjoy baby showers, partly because I like parties and partly because I like babies. Though I understand how one could dread attending. I’ve put together a helpful guide for just this reason. While I tailored this resource to those choosing not to have children, it could apply to any who are childless.
The Childfree Woman’s Guide to Surviving Baby Showers
Whether you’re choosing to have children or not shouldn’t factor into your decision to attend. You were invited, hand-picked even, because Mom-to-be and/or her family want you to share in celebrating a new life. And life is always something worth celebrating!
Before you begin pondering all of the what-ifs and logistics, check yes and mark the date on your calendar.
2) Purchase a Present
I’m sure you were planning on doing this already as it is the custom to come bearing gifts to a baby shower. But walking into a Babies R Us or even just the baby aisle of your local Target can be overwhelming for non-moms.
Back when Colin and I were on the fence about raising kids, I remember meandering around the display of onesies and soft-soled shoes. It was a little like being a kid in a candy shop. So many choices, so much nervous delight.
Then, when we decided to remain DINKs, I became more like a diabetic kid in a candy shop…Bad analogy, I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist. I quickened my steps upon approaching and put on my proverbial blinders anytime I came near diapers and binkies and frilly pink dresses.
While I did eventually come to terms with these aisles and no longer treated them as plagued, I can understand if you’re not to that point yet. In which case, consider purchasing your baby shower gift online or at least schedule your present to ship to store. Sifting through a registry at home is easier, both physically and mentally, than being inundated with row after row and shelf after shelf of things for baby.
3) Share in the Excitement
So you RSVPd and showed up with your gift in tow. Great!
I’ve found baby showers can have one of two effects on the childless: Baby fever can arise (see this post for how to combat it) or your resolve to not have children can become even stronger.
At the last baby shower I attended, I had the latter happen to me. I was actually pretty thrilled that I was able to gander at the itty bitty baby headbands and sun hats and not become flooded with regret. It was a personal victory of sorts.
But no matter how you are feeling, you can’t just sit there like a bump on a log. Stop mentally congratulating yourself or shake off that woe is me attitude and begin sharing in the excitement. Guess that due date and congratulate the Future Mama. Much like the sage advice don’t wear white to a wedding, don’t don a sourpuss to a baby shower.
4) Avoid Soapboxing
In Hyde Park, one of the many green spaces in London, there’s a small section called Speakers’ Corner. Anyone can stand tall and publicly speak about any taboo topic they so desire. This is one example of an appropriate place to soapbox. No matter how badly you want to, no matter how many questions someone asks you, and no matter how many virgin daiquiris you’ve guzzled, a baby shower is never (see also: never ever) the place for declaring how wonderful you think it is to be without children.
It may seem like an obvious rule to some, but even I made this mistake at the last baby shower I attended.
My mom, who also happens to be one of my closest friends, was also invited to this shower. At one point during the unwrapping of the presents she leaned over and whispered, “You still don’t want kids?” Perhaps if it were someone other than my mom asking me, I’d have been offended, but she meant no harm. I know we were both getting caught up in all of the adorableness of the little girl accessories being held up to the crowd and she was curious to see if it any of it had gone to my head.
While I probably should’ve simply shook my head and smiled, I started listing off my reasons- reasons she already knows. Was I hoping to be overheard? I still don’t know, but I did feel a sense of pride in being unaffected by the glitz and glamour of an unborn baby girl. While it is a wonderful thing to feel confident and secure, especially in your decision-making, it can quickly turn into arrogance.
Looking back, I sure hope no one was listening to me as I blabbered on and on. Not because my reasons were lies, they were very much true, but because it wasn’t the appropriate setting for such talk.
Keep in mind why you were invited to this event and don’t be that person who discusses politics, er, babies, at the dinner table.
5) Reach Out
Congratulations! You’ve survived. You’ve kept your table conversations PC and remained in good favor. The hard part is now over. Soon the mom-to-be will lose her hyphenated title and be referred to as simply Mommy. When this happens, reach out to her. You don’t have to have children to understand that it is difficult work. A simple text or phone call to congratulate her will do the trick.
If you take anything to heart from this guide let it be this: a difference of opinions should never dictate emotions. Be happy for those who are happy!
Let me know your opinion on this guide in the comments section below!