I guess it’s not uncommon to have a baby shower within a year of a bridal shower, but for somebody who has studiously avoided such conventions for most of her forty years – I feel like two showers in a year are a lot for one person.

I was just reading an advice column where a woman was complaining about the cost of having been invited to several bridal and baby showers and the audacity of such events to expect all guests to come bearing gifts. I think previous to my own showers, I felt the same way, but I’ve come to see showers as valuable community building support tools. The writer of the column pointed out in a reasonable tone that the term “shower” stemmed from “showering” the guest of honor with gifts, and that if the letter writer were not inclined to give a gift, that she should regretfully decline the invitation.

Now what would be the point of showering somebody with gifts? I never had a baby shower (or any other shower before my bridal shower last year) when Bella was born, so I had no idea what kind of support a shower might give. Back in 1993, I assumed that it was just part of my then-broke life to scratch together all the things I might need for Bella – with parents helping with one or two of the bigger ticket items. I had no idea how much help friends could provide given an appropriate outlet!

People were generous back then with their hand-me-downs and gifts, but yesterday at my baby shower, I was astounded by the generosity, thought, and feeling my friends in Joshua Tree were willing to pour out to me, Chad, and our soon-to-be Jeanniechadling (as my friend Caryn affectionately dubbed the baby).

Yes, much of that support for the baby was shown materially in beautiful and practical gifts of cloth diapers, diaper covers, onesies, soft blankets, a homeopathic kit for babies, a car seat (!!) and much much more – and driving home with Chad last night I felt a weight fall from my shoulders. I hadn’t realized that stress I had been carrying about the potential financial burden of a new baby had been so heavy. Our baby will have now have lots of very adorable new (!) things to wear – and I won’t have fret about pulling together enough cloth diapers and covers. And I won’t have to put the car seat on the credit card! A baby shower gives people an open avenue to gather together to send new parents off on a potentially expensive odyssey with some of the things they might need. And things they don’t need but are very nice to have too.

Much more than the gifts, however, I realized that these people were in my corner. These are the people who will grow up knowing and being invested in this baby. They were rooting for me and thinking about me and very excited for the baby to come. We were celebrating the pregnancy and creating a a little stir to make room in the world for the new person coming. And that kind of support gives me incredible buoyancy.

Thank you dear friends.

I look forward to my next invitation to a shower, so I can go with with this new appreciation of what a powerful support I can be to a new mom or bride.

I only wish that I had a few more of the delicious carrot cake cupcakes that Maya made…(and I think that by the end of the day I had eaten five servings of Darlene’s vegan lasagna – and that’s on top of all the quiche and cookies I ate!)

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