‘Because I Said So’ column for The Commercial Appeal
Nov. 24, 2014
Baby showers celebrate sweetest science, and now the men are invited
I’ve been a part of it four times, and I still have to say that the most impressive magic trick the human race has up its collective sleeve is making more people.
It is also one of the oldest.
Ever since Eve tossed that apple over to Adam, our population has been on the rise. And in all that time, little has changed with this natural process.
Science has involved itself. This was inevitable: Scientists are some of the best magicians around. Their sleight-of-hand has given the world in vitro fertilization, 3D ultrasound, octuplets and diaper genies. Despite these leaps, the basic elements are still there. The newest car off the assembly line may be far faster and sleeker than Mr. Ford’s Model T, but that’s still a combustion engine under the hood.
The most radical change in childbirth in my lifetime, though, isn’t from any laboratory or hall of medicine. It’s the “couples baby shower.”
Ever since Eve threw herself a little party with blue crepe paper and white-on-white sheet cake, the baby shower has been a solely feminine affair. At some point along the timeline, though, women felt bad for the men, those fathers-to-be, left at home all alone.
And because that future father was eventually invited, we all were. An entire gender was put on the guest list.
I’ll let you in on a secret of the brotherhood, ladies: We’re fine at home alone for a few hours.
I was recently invited to one of these baby showers and decided to go. We’ll call it research. There was good food and plenty of adult beverages. There were other guys who looked as out of place as I was. There were women fawning over the mother-to-be. There was a cake in the shape of a baby (I did not eat that baby). And I have to admit I had a great time. It was a night out without the kids, and that’s always special, regardless of the circumstance.
Baby showers, my research showed, are simply a forum for sharing experiences, anecdotes and advice on all things childbirth. My first advice is not to throw a shower on a night when the Grizzlies play; I was out of the room when all of this sharing happened. But as the elder statesman with four children, my advice for these doe-eyed young future parents would have been to remember every precious moment of the magic show they are about to be a part of. The unconditional love between parent and child is as spontaneous and awe-inspiring as a rabbit up my sleeve, and that is no illusion.
And I would have told them that when they get the chance, they should get away. Go against all instinct and leave that baby with grandparents or an aunt, and have an evening out together. Reconnect. Go to a movie, have a meal in a restaurant, attend a get-together with friends (even if it is a baby shower).
The disappearing act — it’s the second best trick in the book.