I’ve been to a lot of baby showers lately. And I’ve been invited to lots more than I’ve been able to attend. I don’t love attending baby showers. As an introvert, it’s a stressful kind of group setting. However, I LOVE the reason for baby showers and I do really enjoy sitting back and watching all the people at baby showers.
I love watching the mom-to-be. Whether she’s loving all the attention or not, one thing is always true. She touches her belly like 300,000 times during that shower. Loving touches. Resting of hands. Caressing. She loves that little baby. She is demonstrating that she loves it even when she is unaware that she is doing so.
I love watching the family at baby showers. Especially the moms. The grandmothers-to-be. They are completely beside themselves with joy. Always. They love this little baby too! And they show it by hovering near the mommy, making sure everything is perfect, and hugging everyone who comes through the door.
I love watching the other guests at baby showers. Every single person there is so happy for the joyous event that is coming. There is sadness at baby showers, too. I can usually pick out those faces because I’m one of them. Mourning the loss of a little one or the lost chance to ever bear one within your body. But even that sadness is somehow all wrapped up in joy. Babies and their arrivals are joyous occasions! And so, even though the sadness is there for some, it only goes to show what a joyful time this is. Everybody knows it. Every face shows it.
We are good at celebrating babies. Because a baby on the way is a joyous thing indeed.
Now imagine with me for just a minute. Imagine that during that beautiful, joy-filled, official welcome of a new baby into the community. Imagine that person after person walked over to that new mom, sat down beside her, and started asking…
“Was this an accident?”
“Don’t you have enough?”
“Are you sure you’re going to be able to provide everything this child needs?”
“Don’t you know that babies are TONS of work?”
“Aren’t you afraid that your baby will mess up your house?”
“What about your other kids? Sometimes adding a new baby can really make it hard for them!”
This isn’t really ok at baby showers. Or really ever. But especially not at baby showers. Baby showers are about communal support and joyful expectation for the new life that is joining their midst.
Can I share a little tidbit? Families who reach out to children at risk – through hosting, foster care, adoption, etc. Those families don’t typically have a physical baby shower. But there does come a time when they choose to share publicly the joyful addition to their family. And quite often…their “baby showers” get crashed.
Crashed with questions. Horror stories. Rude comments. Criticisms. Ignorance. Prejudice.
I understand that you have questions. I know you’ve heard horror stories. I am aware that you don’t really understand our family dynamic or why we are building our family this way. I am thankful that you have genuine concern for the health and safety of our family. I know my baby doesn’t come as a clean, perfectly wrapped bundle of pale pink or blue. I know they come dirty, maybe with lice, a load of trauma, smelly clothes, and quite possibly the naughtiest behaviors in their classes. My babies don’t come in a beautiful new car seat, with a cute “coming home” outfit carefully prepared. There’s no carefully decorated nursery. No piles of gifts just waiting to be put to use. There’s no visits, no mealtrains, no cards, no flowers.
And so, far too often. These families end up running all alone through a proverbial minefield. Dodging the opinions, stories, and critical comments of others all while trying to carefully hold and care for the precious weight of the child they have opened their home to.
This is sad. This is not Christ-like. This is not how the body, the church, is supposed to work. This causes me to me wait, hesitate, write and re-write any sort of announcement before “going public” with our new addition. This causes me to take a deep breath before calling or texting anyone. This even causes me to carefully weigh the consequences of asking for help. Because, ya know, didn’t I ask for this life?
Hubby and I have definitely been completely blessed to have some in our lives who do rejoice every single time we bring a new child into our home. We are blessed with friends who will run over with supplies or clothes or toys or meals. We are hugely blessed in our community.
BUT. And I must say this because I know we are not alone in this. I have talked to many, many, many foster and even adoptive parents who have experienced the lack of joy in their announcement of a new child being added to their family. The overwhelming response to the announcement is negative.
Babies are a blessing. Period. No matter their age, story, or situation. They are a blessing.
So, if you are reading this and realize you’ve inadvertently added to the burden of those trying to minister. If you want to ask a question, if you want to voice a concern, if you are a little surprised and don’t really understand what we (and others like us) are doing…
Could I give you a suggestion?
Send that family a text or private message with some fun exclamation points or emojis. Even if you don’t really agree with their decision, you can think of something to say that rejoices with them. Then, offer to bring them a meal, or to make a grocery run. Ask if there is something they need. Or just send some pretty flowers!
Then, after a month or two (possibly three). When the sanity has mostly returned to that mama’s eyes. Send a private message. Ask to stop by. Invite her out for coffee. That is the time for the questions, the concerns. Just FYI, it’s still probably not the time for the horror stories…I can’t really think of many reasons those need to keep being shared. Anyways. I digress.
We want to answer your questions. We can probably address your concerns. And you will have become something invaluable to us. A friend who will be able to provide us continued open communication and support. You will be someone who is supporting foster and orphan care because you will be informed. You have now showed your love and concern in a constructive way.
We understand that our way of living is pretty foreign to most. We understand that we should probably have a conversation. But, as you know, baby showers just aren’t really the time. Or the place.