The food was delicious. There were flowers everywhere—roses and sunflowers, chrysanthemums and lilies. A rainbow decorated the cake—half carrot, half chocolate—honoring the gayby coming in July.
Everywhere I looked, people were deep in conversation, laughing together, enjoying each other’s company. That night when I got home, my Facebook feed was full of shower attendees friending each other.
Liesl and I are very aware of how little we know about this adventure called parenting, so I had asked that people bring advice to share. By the time the invites went out, that had morphed into advice, poetry, songs and more.
At the shower, we all sat in a circle, and one by one, friends shared their advice (or songs, or poems), and then a gift they had purchased or made for the baby. The gifts were wonderful and generous. Their words were priceless.
A few people were brave enough to sing to us. Several shared poems. One person told us that when we travel by air, we should duct tape all our bulky baby gear together into one bundle, so it counts as one huge piece of luggage. Another person, holding his infant son, said that we should always, always, always strap our daughter into her carseat, even if she’s just napping at home—so that we don’t suddenly remember that she’s not buckled as we’re driving down the highway.
Several people reminded us to treasure every moment, because each precious stage passes so fast.
They listened intently to each other. Some of them parents, some of them not, some of them with children long grown, some of them not far ahead of Liesl and me. It was beautiful.
And it almost didn’t happen.
When the friends who hosted the party asked me months ago if there was going to be a shower, I said something like, “I don’t think so. Probably not.” And she convinced me that people would want to come.
Still, I struggled with the guest list. Who did I know well enough that it wasn’t presumptuous to invite them? Who likes me enough to come—and come gladly? What if people thought, “Why is she inviting me?”
When I shared these fears, my friends said, “Don’t be ridiculous.” If you’ve read the Harry Potter books, you know that is the perfect way to break fear’s spell.
Invites went out, and a wonderful shower happened.
During the gift and advice giving, I told the group, “Liesl and I are introverts. It’s hard for us to be the center of attention like this. But from the beginning of the plans for this party, it’s been my sense that our daughter needs us to get past that. Our daughter needs us to introduce her to her village. Thank you for being her village.”
As she was leaving the party, one of my friends told me, “These people love you. Let them.”
Lesson learned—and written down, so that I don’t forget.
Photo by Jeanne Devon