In Defense of the Grandma Shower
The Today Show recently did a piece on a new trend in the maternity world: baby showers for grandmothers. As soon as I read the quote “(But) it’s a fun stage of life and I think all stages of life you need to celebrate, especially when there’s a birth of a child,” I was hooked. “What a charming idea!” I thought, and shared with my followers.
Holy moly was I unprepared for the backlash from that one. One commenter even went so far as to say it “sicken[ed]” her! Whenever something causes such extreme reactions, I must investigate more! So in the interest of getting to the bottom of this new trend, I wanted to share the reasons why I was a fan of grandma showers at first glance, as well as some things to consider if you’re going to plan one of your own.
I fully believe that celebrations are a wonderful, lovely thing – especially when a baby is involved! This is why I’m totally fine with sprinkles, gender-reveal parties – even pee parties! (well, sort of…). A grandma shower falls into this camp for me. One more celebration of the magical experience of bringing a baby in the world – and often an excuse for the grandma-to-be to show off her beautiful, pregnant daughter or daughter-in-law to all of her friends!
A lot of the critics were offended that a grandma shower would steal mama’s thunder. But in my mind, celebration and joy aren’t limited natural resources. Just because Grandma’s friends are celebrating her doesn’t mean that there is less love, joy and excitement for the parents-to-be and the new baby. In fact, it means quite the opposite! How incredibly lovely to have multiple groups of people itching to celebrate the arrival of your new bundle of joy.
Of course, there are those wayward souls who would actively try to steal the spotlight from their daughter or daughter-in-law (the movie Monster-in-Law pops to mind). If that is your situation, then you have every right to be a bit put off by an obtrusive mother or mother-in-law throwing herself a shower, as it’s probably a sign of deeper issues in the relationship. But if that’s not the case, then chances are that the grandma-to-be (or, more likely, her friends) is just so excited to have a new baby in the family that they want to expand the celebration.
Remember the Most Important Person At Any Shower: Your Baby!
Sometimes we can get so caught up on certain issues that we miss the big picture. In this case, the big picture is: your baby! Regardless of who the guest of honor is for a particular shower or party, virtually all of the gifts are given to make baby’s life a little sweeter. Yes, the gifts may say “To: Grandma” but I’m certain she won’t be the one wrapped up in that cozy blanket from her old college friend or cuddling that sweet little stuffed monkey from her pal Jane in accounting.
Also, in my experience and the experience of many women I know, grandparents end up taking care of their grandchildren at least occasionally. And when that happens, it’s the parents who end up carting around all the gear necessary or, in some cases, buying the extra car seats, and Pack N Plays, and diapers that the grandparents need to take care of baby. If you can look a bit further down the road, it may become clear that this is a huge help to everyone who will be caring for your little one – and may save you hours of scouring Craig’s List for slightly used strollers and high chairs when you realize Grandma & Grandpa need one at their place.
There are certain etiquette guidelines for standard baby showers (which, of course, can be bent to accommodate a particular situation) and the same rules should apply here. That means, grandmas, that you shouldn’t really throw the party yourself. When preparing the guest list, be conscious of the fact that some of these women (particularly family members) may have just been guests at your daughter or daughter-in-law’s bridal shower, wedding or actual baby shower, so it may feel a bit much to be expected to grab gifts for you, as well.
Also, keep in mind the feelings of the parents-to-be. You know your daughter or son and if this would offend them greatly you should skip it. Or, as some commenters suggested, have a party but don’t call it a shower – and, please, hold off on preparing your nana registry until the idea is a little more accepted 😉
I hope this helps clear up why I am a fan of the grandma shower (when done tastefully and respectfully). It all goes back to the idea that “it takes a village”. In an ideal situation, grandmothers (and grandfathers!) are a wonderful resource for advice, support and help with childcare, and the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren can be beautiful. When it’s a healthy relationship, it should definitely be fostered as much as possible, and to me the grandma shower is this idea in action, before baby even arrives!