Dear Carolyn • As inappropriate as it feels to “need” a baby shower, my husband was just laid off and we, after several miscarriages, are finally expecting our first child in August.
My successful, established, younger sister very recently announced her upcoming nuptials at the end of the summer.
My mother just yesterday decided to no longer throw a baby shower for us until October at the earliest, yet I have been charged with organizing the bridal shower, set for two weeks prior to my due date.
How do I cope with feelings of being overlooked? I am still working, but we’re already upside-down and eating through our savings trying to make rent and pay all our bills each month. — Overwhelmed and Coming Undone
Answer • There are so many things I want to say.
I will start with this, because it’s quick: There’s no shame in your “need” for this baby shower. You deal with a layoff the best you can.
Second, but most important: Congratulations on your pregnancy, especially after so much heartbreak.
Your immediate family is your future, so it is the appropriate place for you to steady yourself. Not only with the child you have coming, but with your marriage and home and what you’re creating there.
A layoff and a financial squeeze and a twisted display of priorities from your family of origin? They’re difficult and stressful. They’re also circumstantial, though. You can outlast them.
In fact, if you squint a bit, you might be able to include your mom and sister and the showers and the weddings into a larger happy tableau of family marking the passage of time together.
With your feet on this foundation, tend to the circumstantial things, starting with the bridal shower you’ve been assigned.
By saying no, flat-out. State the obvious: You’re adjusting to your husband’s layoff — don’t hide it, just treat it as a matter of fact — you’re also working closer than you’d like to your due date, and you may well be giving birth on the shower date.
Seriously. You always have the right to say no to any request, even perfectly reasonable ones, but this request is just perverse. “We’re going to celebrate you by throwing you a party! ... Ha ha, kidding, instead you’re going to do all the work to celebrate someone else, right in the middle of your physically and emotionally transformative life event.”
It deserves the no-iest no you’ve got. In fact, feel free to streamline the obvious to: “No, Mom, I will not plan a shower for when I’m giving birth.”