About Polly Chester

Polly is a thinker, writer and social worker with passions for human rights, caring for the environment, social justice, social policy, epistemology, philosophy and psychology

Baby showers – Enough to make you (pretend) sick

Until recently, I’d been keeping a dark, ugly secret.

This secret led me to believe I was a social pariah, suffering an emotional deficit that I couldn’t dare expose to my friends and family. I felt I was missing something; that I’d been born ‘different’ to other females.

The feelings of guilt that I harboured as a result of this secret caused me to behave in ways in direct opposition with my morals and values. I have lied to many people, and I feel genuinely bad about doing so, but I had no choice.

It’s scary to say this; I might lose some friends over it. But I think I am finally ready to get it off my chest.

I hate baby showers.

There, I’ve said it.

Now, to fully absolve myself of some of the terrible guilt I feel, I have some confessions to make, the two main ones being:

  1. When verbally invited to a baby shower, I say that I have to work. For 100% of incidents, this information is ultimately a lie. If the event were appealing enough to make me want to attend, I’d easily get out of going to work for it.
  2. When sent an invitation to a baby shower, I put it straight into the bin. I rarely even bother to RSVP with ‘no’.

I encounter nauseating repulsion upon receiving a contrived, sickly card covered with storks, ribbons and the full complement of other hokey, baby-related shit, which invites me to an event where, let’s face it, my presents are more welcome than my presence.

Worse still are the visceral feelings that erupt when the card is home-made and boasts a miniature version of someone’s ultrasound photo (damn you, technology).

What exactly is it about your foetus that you think will inspire me to think that it looks like anything other than an alien?

Don’t get me wrong – babies are cute. Foetuses are not at all cute, and only attractive to the people who made them.

“What a beautiful foetus!”

Said no one, ever. (If they did, they need their head examined.)

Naturally, the first person I brought this subject up with was my mum, about a year ago. I was concerned I was missing the maternal gene and that I was a heartless bitch.

The conversation went a bit like this…

Polly: “I’ve just been invited to another baby shower, and I’m going to find some way to say no without looking like a heartless asshole. Unfortunately this one falls on a Sunday when I don’t have to work. I guess I’ll just pretend that I am working or that I have died or something.”

Mum: “Ugh, baby showers. Someone tried to make me have one for you when I came over from England – we didn’t have them over there so I’d never heard of them. When I found out what they wanted to do for me I wouldn’t hear of it. No way.”

It was comforting to find that my feelings about baby showers were hereditary.

But I believe that they are also environmental, shaped by my own beliefs and experiences.

The decision to have a child is the most important decision I will make in my adult life. I believe that unless I am financially, emotionally and physically prepared to have a child independently of all support other than from its father (or possibly without him as well), I’m not ready to have one.

I also believe that it is a decision I shouldn’t expect anyone else to care about.

Westerners seem to have the monopoly on making a celebration out of barely anything, and use it as an excuse to buy a whole heap of shit for each other that we don’t really need.

“What if they do need stuff, you heartless bitch! They are expecting!” I hear you cry.

Well, if an expectant couple is expecting to be gifted everything they need for the arrival of the new babe, I’d be questioning whether they were really ready to be having one.

Sorry if it sounds cold – I’m just trying to be practical.

In Australia, there is a baby born with every 1 minute and 42 seconds that passes. Every birth is special, definitely. But it doesn’t have to be directly special to me.

I can be happy for friends who have babies from a distance. I’ll visit when I can, after it’s born. I am beginning to quite like children and am blessed with the company of some of the most eccentric, hilarious children I’ve ever encountered thanks to my awesome friends. I love few things more than hearing stories about the children of people for whom I care deeply about.

But when people talk to me about their pregnancies, my eyes glaze over in the same way others’ eyes glaze over when I start talking about my uni assignments. People generally ask about my studies only out of politeness, so I’ve learned to keep those discussions brief, unless they are with my parents, who are mandated to be interested.

If I were having a baby, my parents would be obliged to fulfil the same mandate, but they would be the only ones who were obliged in such a way.

The moral of the story is this: Please don’t invite me to your baby shower. I won’t come, it’s just not my bag, baby.

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