Religion & Beliefs

My Jewish Baby Shower

It would seem that there are a number of Jewish traditions that accompany pregnancy and childbirth. Traditions that begin long before you have to throw a bris or a naming ceremony. But the only one I'd ever heard of, until … Read More

By / April 6, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

It would seem that there are a number of Jewish traditions that accompany pregnancy and childbirth. Traditions that begin long before you have to throw a bris or a naming ceremony. But the only one I'd ever heard of, until now, was the tradition of doing nothing… 

Which is to say, the tradition of NOT preparing for your baby. NOT telling people you're pregnant until they can see fit or themselves, NOT revealing he names you're considering, NOT throwing a shower, NOT getting the baby's room ready.

Evidently, this is a custom particular to the Ashkenazic tradition, a minhag that seeks to avoid attracting the attention of evil spirits. And while I don't fear evil spirits so much, I do fear miscarriage. 

Been there, done that.

Let me tell you, there are few things more horrible than having to call everyone you know to report the unblessing of the blessed news. I can't even imagine having to get rid of unworn baby clothes, or having to paint over the rubber ducky mural in the nursury/study. I'd never want to fight with the good people at Babies-R-Us about returning a crib I'd already taken out of the box and set up.

I think that this particular Jewish tradition makes a huge deal of sense. I think it's instinctive, psychologically sound, practical–like a lot of Jewish cultural traditions, I think it's rooted in the emotional truths that underly superstition, and not just superstition.

So when I had my son, (though I did clean and repaint the room we planned to use for him, and empty it of the random piles of crap scattered around) I insisted that we didn't want gifts until he arrived. When I left for the hospital, I owned no baby clothes, no bottles.

Which was fine. I'm glad I did it.

But now I'm 6 months pregnant again, and big as a house, and a friend asked me if I wanted a shower this time. And I found myself feeling like Yeah! It's my turn!

Because I've bought a lot of expensive presents over the last few years for other people. I've blown up balloons, made sherbet-punch, played dumb games, and felt a little sad that it was never my turn.

But I still don't want to prepare for the baby. I don't want lots of tiny booties and hats that might never get worn. So what to do?

What to do?

What to do!

I told my friend I wanted a shower, but not baby presents. I told her I'd like an un-shower. Or that I'd like a mom-shower, and not a baby-shower. I told her that the invitations should say that I'd prefer gifts after the baby arrives, but that nothing would make me happier than an afternoon with my friends. Because although I don't want to fill a room with toys, I do want to sit in the middle of a bevy of ladies, and giggle and eat brownies and be the center of attention. For one afternoon, before the baby arrives and HE gets to be the center of attention forever.

It might sound selfish, but I want a shower that's about ME, not the baby.

I thought about asking for my gifts to be all things my older son could use, if something awful happend. Pictures books, or kiddie-music, or something like that.

I thought about asking for donations to a Jewish children's organization.

I also thought about (and this just seemed way to tacky) asking for presents for ME! Bath salts and books and music and so on. Things to make me feel special, as I head into this next hard (and wonderful) stretch.

But in the end, I figure the message here isn't about telling people how to spend money. A shower doesn't have to be about gifts. It just has to make mom feel like she has a community ready to support her, as she heads to the hospital, and her life changes forever.

Now if only that same mom could have a glass of wine at her un-shower! Sigh….