Baby Celebration Guest List

a) I’m having a baby shower. Only I refuse to call it a baby shower because the idea of one gives me hives. Instead, I have insisted on having it co-ed and at a brewery to distance myself from the whole shower concept. If possible, I would probably have it in a parking lot of a 7-Eleven, but even I’m aware some societal norms must be observed. I’m clearly in denial, so henceforth it will be called a “Baby Celebration.”

b) There are currently 78 likely attendees. 78?! I don’t even like that many people!

How the hell did this happen? Just a few months ago, I seriously entertained the idea of never telling anyone I was pregnant until Chick turned 18. And now I’m having a non-shower for 78 people.

Pardon me as I go into hiding…

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I hate you right now, but I love you always

There are times when I’ve seriously wondered if I would be better off having fled into the woods upon announcing my pregnancy. Like when women in royal courts would be put into seclusion once their pregnancies were announced.

If only I was a Tudor Lady… Because I would have forced myself into baby quarantine weeks ago. Of course, I also probably would have ended up beheaded at some point. But I digress…

What has brought on this desire to retreat from life entirely? BABY. SHOWER. As you may recall, this all started with the announcement from Mr. O’s step-mom, Kittiwake, that there would be two baby showers– one for her side of the family and one for Mr. O’s mom. After much discussion, we decided that this wasn’t the way we wanted to go. Mr. O called Kittiwake and explained that we just wanted one big celebration with people we love. It seemed to go over well.

Reread that sentence. It seemed to go over well.

On Monday, Mr. O and I sent out an email to the three party planners (Kittiwake, Mr. O’s Mom, and our friend Sparrow) with specific directions. Mr. O’s Mom would take venue research and food. Kittiwake would take decorations and cake. Sparrow would be responsible for the invitations and “general logistics” which is short for keeping track of all this while Chick slowly eats my brain. (Pregnancy brain is a real thing, folks.)

On Tuesday, Mr. O gets an angry and fairly incoherent call from Murre (his dad.) I wasn’t there so I have no idea what happened. All I know is that it started off with “I’m really pissed at you…”, followed by “I feel like you backed me into a corner…”, followed by a diatribe of all the sacrifices Murre made Mr. O that he just doesn’t appreciate. Followed by more yelling. At which point, Mr. O told Murre he was being a bully. And then there was more yelling. He may or may not ever be speaking to Mr. O again.*

Fascinatingly, neither Mr. O or I were able to understand exactly what all this was about. I presume it has something to do with the baby shower business, but the words “baby” or “shower” were never uttered. There was, apparently, just a lot of yelling.

I was on my way to coaching my girls running club when Mr. O recounted this, so I couldn’t do much besides offer support to Mr. O over the phone. What I will say is that I was gobsmacked by this. Murre is certainly known for having a temper, but it doesn’t come out often. I’ve seen him really mad once or twice in the 15 years I’ve known him. And though I don’t agree with how he expresses his anger, I’ve always at least understood where it was coming from.

This is mostly crazy bullshit. I think. I’m not entirely sure. It would be helpful to know, wouldn’t it?

A few days later, I got an email from Kittiwake. To summarize, she has decided not to help in planning the shower. She doesn’t have the energy or the desire to change her baby shower plans. (These are her words, not mine.) She didn’t expect her baby shower proposal to be shot down in favor of our larger (and not as traditional) version, which was the very thing she decided she didn’t want to do.

Between the two, I prefer the measured email to the yelling phone call. But either way, Mr. O’s father and step-mom have made it clear that they are not interested in being a part of this. I know that this is “just a party” and I shouldn’t take it to heart, but WTF?

As I sorted through all this, I was hit with this feeling of being alone. I’ve been feeling this for awhile, which I know has a direct correlation to my mom’s death. My sister has been great in her way, and my dad is slowly emerging from his grief. But the truth is there is no substitute for my mom. Not to mention that my immediate family is hundred of miles away. It all compounds to feeling a bit orphaned.

In the back of my head, I did take some solace in Mr. O’s family. No, they are not “my” family, but they have proven to be very loving and supportive. All three of them.

And then this happened. In an instant, they’re pulling back because apparently a party didn’t go their way? (Seriously, am I missing something?) I know human beings are flawed and unreliable, but as cray cray as my family is, I’ve never felt that they would literally stop talking to me– even when there are times when I wished they would.

I don’t mean to pit my side versus Mr. O’s side. Sure, there are decisions that his family has made that I wouldn’t– but then again, there are choices my own family has made that I don’t want to repeat either.

There is a lesson here in the value of unconditional love. I’ve thought about this so much since my mom passed, how in many ways this was the greatest legacy she gave me. My family is not perfect. Oh, let me count the ways… But even in the midst of arguments, slammed doors, and the occasional name calling, I never once doubted I was loved. No matter what dumb thing I did (and there were many,) there was never a threat that this love could be revoked at any time.

“I hate you right now, but I love you always.” That about sums it up.


*It is worth mentioning that this threat to never talk to Mr. O again is a real one. Murre has done this with other family and friends. We’ve always been able to successfully not get in between any of it, but witnessing the Freeze Out is still really difficult.

A Tale of Two Families. Make that Three.

This weekend, I made dinner for my in-laws. My stepmother-in-law has been laid up in bed for a while, and my father-in-law needed a break from playing caretaker for a night. So Mr. Ostrich and I went over to provide them with a meal sans prep, cooking, and clean up.

Over dinner, Kittiwake* (Mr. O’s stepmom) told us that she was starting to plan a baby shower for “someone.” Then she launched into her  plan…. But before I go on, a moment or two of background.

Mr. O’s biological parents split up when he was young. It is safe to say this divorce was not pleasant. Throughout most of his childhood, Mr. O had to navigate those heady waters so many children of divorce do– loving two people who cannot stand each other. Holidays in particular were hard. Either he had to shuttle from one parent’s house to the other (resulting in round trip car rides of 2+ hours) or he had to choose. Once Mr. O’s dad (Murre*) married Kittiwake, her family’s dinners, birthdays, weddings, etc were added to the mix.

This would be fine except that no one family seems to like any of the others. It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys… and the McCoys. I don’t know how to put it, exactly. Each family is a little clannish. They are fiercely loving and supportive of each other, but they all seem to have a difficult time extending this to anyone outside their immediate family. Every gathering requires a mental shifting of alliances. You have to be “theirs.” And then you hop in the car, drive 45 minutes to another person’s house where you become “theirs.”

Luckily, Mr. O and I are pretty easy going. For the last 15 years, we’ve danced this dance like pros. I don’t know if it is age, or having a baby, or what, but… It is starting to get old. Just this Christmas, Mr. O suggested an extended vacation to Hawaii in large part to avoid the drama. If it weren’t for my being 2 months pregnant, I would have seriously considered it.

One thing we’ve agreed on is that we don’t want this for Chick. It’s just exhausting. It also isn’t fair. It is subtle, but you do pick up on a vibe from each family that they are some how better. (Although, sometimes this even is explicitly stated.) I like all my in-laws and their families, and would hope to raise Chick to appreciate each one for what and who they are. This may be a lot harder than it sounds.

So… Back to dinner…

Kittiwake laid out her plan for our baby shower. She and Murre will host one at their house for their family and friends. We can invite our friends, or whoever else we want to come. Mr. O’s mom can have her baby shower “or do whatever she wants.” Bonus: We could get twice the presents and cake! (These are all her words, not mine.)

I sat there a little bit stunned. First of all, I haven’t really thought about a baby shower. I’m still easing into this, frankly. But something about this hit me the wrong way. Mr. O and I just said we’d think about it and get back to them.

My instinct screams “Hells no.” I’m not one for baby showers, at least how most people approach them. I have no desire to play games like “Guess that Poopy Diaper!” or “Pin the Tail on the Pregnant Lady!” I hate opening presents in front of other people– especially when everyone expects you to coo over the tiny onsies they are giving you. I’m not one for cooing under any circumstances.

All sorts of questions start popping up. Which shower will be “better?” Which one will be “the real one?” Our friends aren’t going to go to both. My dad and sister have said they might like to come up. Which one should they choose to attend? This is how a slippery slope starts.

But more than that, I don’t want to begin my family with a metaphorical game of Ping Pong. This isn’t about “their” families anymore. It is about “ours.” And I mean that in the most inclusive way I can think of. I want ALL OF THEM in one room, acting like humans not sectarians.

And just when you think I’ve made up mind… Something struck me as Kittiwake started going over her shower plans.This is shower is her “coming out” party as a grandmother. Kittiwake never had children of her own, so Mr. O is it. She has been such a wonderful support to him and to me over the years. Even so, there is always the implication that she wasn’t his “real mom.” She very graciously took the back seat to Mr. O’s biological mother at major life events, like graduations, our wedding, and all the rest. Now it’s her time to be a 100% bonafide matriarch.

I get it.

But I still don’t want two motherfucking parties.


*Kittiwake and Murre are bird names! Seriously, I love how many weird and awesome names we have for various birds.