I’ve avoided baby showers for years because the tradition has always seemed a little farcical to me. The baby shower games meant to embarrass the mother-to-be, the gag gifts, the petty themes — it’s always left me feeling that we are abandoning our young women just when they need all the support and encouragement they can get.
But recently I was literally dragged to the most unusual shower I’ve ever attended, and my discontent melted away; it was a holistic baby shower that didn’t bother with the cheesy baby shower games and replaced them with true rites-of-passage. I’d like to share how a young mother-to-be named Jenny organized this event, and spread the word about the new generation of baby shower ideas, which can be honest and authentic, and still a lot of fun.
Jenny told me she wanted a “ceremony, not a shower.” She expressed her intention for a more grounded event that will help prepare her for crossing the threshold into motherhood with the support of other women, and especially the older women, in her community.
“No dumb games,” she said, “and, please, no truth-and-dare.” From there, her friends organized the event, including sending the invitations and preparing the food.
I knew it was a different kind of shower the moment I stepped inside. The living room was set up with an altar space in the middle of the room, surrounded by couches in the round. We were instructed to each bring a single flower for Jenny, which we placed in the flower vase in the center of the altar.
Pomegranates, pine cones, and oranges were piled against the vase: each of which are ancient and powerful symbols of fertility and pregnancy. The room smelled of spices and incense. I was entranced.
The baby shower really began when all of the women talked about their experiences with mothering. It was a great and hilarious collection of stories, straight from the heart. Balancing this, a glass bowl was then passed around and fears about being a new mother were spoken into it. This bowl was then placed on the altar as well, expressing the healthy role of fear in becoming a parent. Nobody was without a dry eye at this stage.
Then, the music came on, some traditional women singers with drums and flutes. Everyone started dancing and laughing again. Meanwhile, a couple of women lay the mother-to-be down in a comfortable chair and massaged her head, shoulders and back. The atmosphere was free and intimate, and full of trust.
This is when the food was rolled out on a couple wheeled carts: yummy finger foods and small sandwiches as well as fruits and chocolates. I couldn’t believe what a good time I was having.
The most innovative baby shower idea was that each guest wrote a blessing onto a small scrap of parchment, which were then strung together like a raggedy prayer flag. The best part: Jenny later hung up the “blessing banner” in the delivery room when she was giving birth. So all our blessings were in attendance, even though we were not there physically. Jenny told me recently how this gave her a deep sense of security when she entered the hospital room that day. She said she could feel our love surrounding her and giving her strength.
As you can tell, this was not the standard baby shower! Each of the guests, myself included, left feeling like we had given something of ourselves, as well as the traditional baby gifts which we left to be opened at a later time. And the mother-to-be looked so relaxed as we said our farewells. We had done our job.
This holistic baby shower idea is truly the gift of community, the way baby showers used to be in the early part of the century. So, if you are thinking of having a shower and want something a little different than the usual baby shower games, rest assured that there are alternatives.
Express your intention to your trusted friends and let them carry you across the threshold of motherhood with new rites-of-passage that are full of heart and spirit.