Let me begin by telling you about the best baby shower I never went to. It was in honor of the daughter of a good friend who lived far, far away from most of us who knew her well. But she and her husband were, like all new parents, still in need of a great deal of baby-stuff.
And so her family gave her a “virtual” shower. Which I thought was effing brilliant. You send a gift. You don’t have to go.
Those of you who have been on the tour undoubtedly know the obligatory torture known as the baby shower. You give up a Saturday to make polite chit-chat with semi-strangers, rehash childbirth memories, rhapsodize about how motherhood is the ultimate fulfillment, play silly games like guess the circumference of the new mom’s belly, then ooh and ahh for the great unveiling of the gifts, some of which defy explanation.
All without benefit of cocktails.
Okay, I exaggerate. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against motherhood. I’m a mom myself and have loved (almost) every minute of it. I had a mom of my own, and I loved her dearly. And, truth be told, I’ve played host to a number of baby showers myself. But if you’ve been to your share of these blessed events, you probably catch my drift.
So you can imagine my glee when I found out that new dads are getting into the act as well. The idea is that, since men are becoming more involved at home, wanting to play a bigger role in raising their families, they should inaugurate their new role with showers of their own.
They call them “diaper parties”. Or Dadchelor parties. Or, alternatively, “diaper kegs.”
Sigh. Bring on the beer bong.
Writing in the San Jose Mercury News on Sunday, Jessica Vardigan offered an inside look at the male answer to the baby shower: the man-guests bring boxes of diapers, and for their reward, they drink beer, play poker and watch TV sports with the daddy-to-be. According to the experts quoted in Vardigan’s piece, the point is “to support the parent-to-be as he transitions into this new life passage.”
“Men are much more involved in the baby world than they were even a generation ago, so cultivating networks with like-minded guys is just as crucial as it is for Mom, says Judy Levit, an Oakland marriage and family therapist.
“They don’t talk about their feelings, but they know why they’re there,” Levit says of diaper parties. “If they’re going to be up all night with the baby and changing diapers, they need guys they can talk to. If they’re going to be supporting their wives, they need support.”
Right. ABC’s Nightline, too, tracked the new trend on Tuesday night with a piece about the send-off for an expectant, and soon-to-be-engaged, dad who decided to go big: he and his diaper-bearing buddies hopped aboard a party bus en route to a casino – for a blissful night of drinking, dancing and gambling.
Even the Life of Dad blog weighed in with a to-do list for putting together a dad-chelor party of one’s own, complete with a list of suitable venues, party foods (Dorito pie, anyone?), cocktail recipes, and party games, such as “Drink With me, Elmo”. I think it was a send-up. Or so I hope.
I do get the concept, really I do: Giving new dads a chance to bond over this life passage, where the expectant pop garners support from the other guys who have already been there. And clearly, I think we all could agree that these diaper parties are probably a lot more fun that the traditional baby shower.
But isn’t there something here that’s just a little bit off? For all our talk about changing gender roles, household equality, and involved parenthood, it seems that the diaper party is just as wrong as the traditional baby shower in that both reinforce the stereotypical gender roles we think we’ve left behind. Over here, we’ve got Lady Madonna, born to breed and keep a happy home. And over there, we’ve got the clueless, beer-belching Homer Simpson.
The other thing is, it’s just not fair: we’d all rather drink beer and even watch football than drink punch and coo over nipple brushes.