When you have your first child, one of the expectations (at least in America), is that you (or rather someone else) throws a party. It’s part celebration, part gift-centric swag grab, and part social experiment to see how uncomfortable everyone can be about the fact that you have, indeed, had sex. Many, many of these parties can be experiences in total awkwardness beyond description. My first one wasn’t so bad, although there were a bunch of displays of asshattery which have long left bad tastes in my mouth even now that my son is well into his 3’s.
Luckily, when you are pregnant with your next child (and in this case, my last), there’s less of a need for “stuff” to be given to you (unless it’s a different gender, I guess, and you need dresses or more gender normative clothing). We did the math and only ended up needing about a half dozen things (crib, car seat, replacement items that broke the first round, diapers/wipes/creams and formula and bottles). I hadn’t even planned on having another party. But because so many people asked about it and seemed disappointed that we weren’t planning anything, I relented and assembled a small celebration for our family and friends to come by for a barbeque. I put together some invites, and a short amazon list of things people could buy if they wanted, but made no expectation that gifts were needed.
Two days before the shower was scheduled, we got the news that my husband was out of a job. Nothing puts the damper on a celebration like a financial buzzkill like this. And, nothing takes the wind out of my sails for preparing for said celebration like the looming cloud of financial destruction. It was, in all fairness, not the best timing.
We tried our best to put on a minimalist spread with something for everyone. But the idea of doing burgers and hot dogs on the grill quickly escalated into a varied menu of options for what we would later learn were mostly imagined dietary restrictions. For example, a friend who claimed strict vegetarianism was caught mainlining buffalo chicken dip. Another friend who had the most difficult restrictions to date, an ulcerative colitis diet (according to her, no high fat, no acid, no red meat, no spicy food), ate all of the food prepared for others, none of the items set out specifically for her, and drank 3/4 of a bottle of red wine (uh, hello acid!).
And then there were the children. Sartre has been quoted, “hell is other people.” I would amend that slightly to be “Hell is other people’s children.” I will readily admit that my kid is no saint, but good lord, my friends have some assholes living in their household, parading around as adorable kids. I was astonished at how blindingly rude and destructive these kids were, and how unfortunately permissive their parents were about their little devil children.
All the while, we realized that my MIL and her boyfriend were missing. They are usually the first to arrive to party, so when it was nearly 3/4 over, I began to worry that something had happened. My husband kept calling, but MIL’s phone was inexplicably turned off. When she finally got it turned on, it turns out she thought the end time (4:00 p.m.) was the start time and showed up an hour and a half later than that. By then I was exhausted, the food was put away and the boys were upstairs asleep. But that didn’t end their expectation to be fed and boozed an entertained for another hour and a half.
Once they finally cleared out, I vaguely recall lying in my bed while my son ran a toy car over my legs and arms. He said something like, “good night mommy” and went downstairs. The next thing I know, it’s 8:00 p.m., and my husband is putting our son down for the night. So, the thing is done and we’re definitely not going through that mess again.