The Case for the Non-Baby Baby Shower
“Your friends want you to do this for you, and if they don’t, you need new friends.” That’s where I started crying. This was so good.
Yes, this should be more common. My friend threw me a virtual JMT shower (because I’d quit my corporate job and was being an itinerant ski bum) where everyone bought me hiking gear and backpacking food for thru-hiking the John Muir Trail, one of my long time life goals, off an Amazon wishlist. My friend who did this for me has had those traditional milestones of marriage and kids. I helped plan her engagement party years ago. I was grateful when she suggested it and it did help defray costs associated with a 3 week backpacking trip. It was validating that friends were celebrating my non-traditional life goal and I did send everyone thank you postcards.
Unmarried & child free 40-something here. This (brilliant) piece made me think about a teaching job I once had where every August when we reconvened the principal would publicly congratulate anyone who had a summer engagement, wedding, pregnancy or birth. One year one of the people being congratulated stood up and shared her own congrats for things like “X finished their Masters,” “Y just returned from a trip to [country],” “Z moved into a new home” and it meant so much to me to have somebody recognize that there’s more to adulthood than getting married and having babies.
I adore this and it's exactly the mindset I have! I just turned 31, am very single and have been going to a lot of weddings recently. And I've decided that I deserve a wedding! So I'm throwing myself a baller 37th birthday party that will have all the trappings of a wedding except for the other person.
I had an adult bat mitzvah last year at age 39 and I treated it like my wedding because I'm not going to have one of those. Friends came from all over the country to celebrate, I had extra time with my closest friends!
It was also unlike a wedding in that it was a low-key pizza party in a park with carousel, but I've always found the idea of planning a wedding-wedding very stressful.
As a child-free, monogamous but unmarried person, I think about this all the time and am SO GLAD to have an issue dedicated to it. I LOVE everything about it. My only question is about how to do this without a specific milestone (which in this case, is surgery). I've held the same job, lived in the same rented apartment, been with the same person for over a decade, and so any novel milestones have seemed...small. We are good at celebrating change, but not so much consistency/stability. Do we focus on a birthday then? That feels, to me, not as good somehow, but it's a possibility.
I keep joking that I want a divorce shower when my marriage is officially dissolved early next year. I know, I got the shower when I got married 20 years ago...but my towels are worn out, my tastes have changed. And I want some new things to celebrate this new phase of life! But it feels very silly and selfish to ask my friends and family to buy me things when I already have things.
When I got married 9 years ago, nobody threw me a bridal shower. It's one of those silly things that isn't a big deal, but at the same time, has managed to continue to hurt my feelings as time has passed. There is a part of me that wonders why I've thrown showers and parties for multiple friends and relatives, but nobody was willing to do the same for me. (My husband and I are child free, so no baby shower for us, either.) I mentioned this to a newish friend a few weeks back, and she decided that she is going to throw a very belated bridal shower for me on December 28. I'm really looking forward to it.
This is probably one of my favorite interviews of all time. I really love friendship love. I remember being interrogated by a friend once - immediately after a big life change - about why I wasn't actively looking for a boyfriend, and my response was that I'd always rather have good friends than a boyfriend. I wanted to spend my time either deepening my friendships or finding new friends. He never understood, and I never understood a better way to explain it, but this piece warms me up from the inside out.
As a single, childless almost 40-year-old this definitely made me cry more than I expected. Thank you Nicole for being a shining example of how you can have a full life without the traditional markers.
I also had a party to commemorate the removal of my tubes! We served three different tube-shaped pastas, and I decorated a cake with small plastic babies (?) I found at a cake-decorating store. I wanted to do a registry, but I felt uncomfortable, partly because this was unprecedented in my community (it was 2019), but also partly because, despite my intuition telling me not to, I invited now not-friends who raised eyebrows at me. Suffice it to say, my community is in a much different and better place now. I very much resonate with "Your friends want you to do this for you, and if they don't, you need new friends."
In addition to asking my dears to fill out the "How can I care for you?" Google Form, I absolutely want to suggest having ongoing registries. Thank you for this piece, Anne, and for sharing your story, Nicole!
I also just want to highlight the term Possibility Model, which is pure magic.
I'm only 25, and sometimes being single feels like a punishment when I watch all my friends get these big elaborate showers, and parties, and weddings thrown for them. One of my friends is getting married in January, and I haven't had the right words to explain the weird sense of resentment that I've been feeling (or the immediate guilt I feel for being resentful of something that is supposed to be joyful). This article helped immensely to be able to put that feeling into words. I have told my friends how much I love a surprise party because I think its a huge sign of care, especially when I so often feel like the one who does everything to make other people feel special. But maybe instead of hoping someone throws me a surprise party, I'll plan a party like this one for myself. This could be really fun once I work up the courage :)
I mentioned that I love this idea for an adult bat mitzvah and now I want to do it for my conversion. I'd like to throw myself a party for graduating from my MFA program but I feel a bit silly, as someone in my friend group got her PhD and didn't have a big party for it. Would it be weird to have a graduation party? A PhD is a much bigger deal.
When I bought my house (I'm single, no kids) it happened to coincide with a huge milestone at the summer theater company I worked for (leadership change), and a friend/company member's wedding, and a few company member's birthdays. So I threw a housewarming/wedding shower/birthday/celebrate our leaving artistic director party and it was epic! So many former company members stopped by from out of town, we had an afternoon barbecue, pushed pause, went and did that evening's performance and then another round of folks stopped by after the show for more party time. It was a most celebratory event and everyone had a great time except the girlfriend of someone who accidentally got locked in my bathroom.
There was no registry, but some folks did bring gifts-mostly food and drink which was very appreciated. The friend getting married and I both received nice enameled cast iron dutch ovens from our artistic director and his wife. We did end up switching them because we liked each other's colors better. Overall it's one of the best parties I've ever thrown-I would highly recommend it and if it still feels too self indulgent to you-combine it with other friends milestones-the more the merrier!
Also to clarify- in one of Leonor’s responses, I jumped in to say a lot of what she/Marc/Sarah did was pay for things.