I went to a lovely, nontraditional baby shower at a winery last weekend. Since men were included and only about half the attendees had children, it made one not-so-flattering aspect of momhood really stand out:
Moms can’t shut up. It’s not an attack, I’m as guilty as the next mother. But I’ve been to my share of baby showers and time after time, when we are gathered together to honor a new recruit, we cannot stop the verbal barfing of advice and anecdotes.
“Oh, you will NEED those. I can’t tell you how many receiving cloths I just thew out instead of washing.”
“Trust me, this bouncy seat is the best. We tried three and THIS is the only one Johnny would sit in.”
“And you can use the infant bath for years. We even turned it into a water table when our kids got too big.”
When we’re done offering unsolicited product recommendations, we quiz the soon-to-be parents . . . and are inevitably unsatisfied with their novice answers: “What stroller are you getting? MacLaren, really? Interesting. We went with the Combi. All the others bugged us.”
“Did someone say Bugaboo? That is the way to go.”
“And of course you’ll need a jogging stroller. . . .”
Mothers who have never met share details they wouldn’t have revealed to their doctors a few years ago. Childless women stuck attending these fetes are psychologically sterilized for 12 more months. In a case where men are invited, the poor guys don’t know what to do with themselves–really, what is the etiquette when a woman is talking about breast health? Are men still required to look directly at her eyes?
One-on-one a mother can maintain a sort of screen. You know, you don’t give all the details of your labor lest you frighten poor prego. And even though you want to grab every non-parent by the shoulders and scream to them that NO, taking care of the new puppy is not excellent practice for a child, you hold back and smile politely. They wouldn’t believe you, anyway: you didn’t believe the weary, unbathed people who told you that stuff, did you?
But when a gaggle of moms get together, we lose all ability to filter what we say. At one shower several of us broke into laughter when the mother-to-be commented on how much free time she’d have as a stay-at-home mom. At another, we regaled her with stories of how piercingly awful labor was before the drugs. (I personally have been known to describe it as having someone shove a hot poker into your abdomen and then stir you innards around . . . anyone for a party game?!)
I’m not sure why we do this. It’s cruel, really, to burst this woman’s bubble during her last days of bliss. EVER. Maybe we think we are captains running back through the jungle to warn the coming troops of what lies ahead. Maybe each of us feels like we invented the mommy wheel and we want to spread our knowledge far and wide, in order to help the masses. Maybe we want to pat ourselves on the back for having survived parenthood when the Diaper Genie Super Ultra Elite III was just a Diaper Genie. Whatever the reason, don’t look over at the table on the left, where all OUR moms are sitting. They had babies when there were no portable DVD players, no velcro shoes and a diaper genie was someone you prayed would show up at your door. They think we’re all nuts.