Thoughts of all these baby girls swirled around in my head as I attended a baby shower on Sunday. (Our extended-extended family keeps growing also.) This will be the first child for the couple in their early 30s. It is a girl, and as I watched the father holding up cute little pink dresses and outfits, and examining items whose use is as foreign to him as the eye of a needle, I had to smile.
He is so innocent and unsuspecting. The order and structure in the business world that he inhabits has not prepared him for what's ahead. But he's tough, and the lucky baby girl's mother has it all together ... so far. There are two sets of proud first-time grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and generations of assorted cousins and grandaunts and granduncles (including our own daughter, Sarah). I'm sure they will be a source of support, but not at midnight feedings or diaper changes.
The shower was more than an occasion for gift giving. The "refreshments" were adequate for Sunday lunch, and the fellowship was superb. Since these events nowadays include males as well as females, the atmosphere of showers has changed considerably from yesteryear. Once upon a time, the gender of the expected baby was unknown at the time of the shower. Standard gifts included satin-trimmed blankets (white or pastel yellow or green), cloth diapers and huge safety pins called diaper pins, baby bottles and accessory items, diaper bags, and always at least one assortment of Johnson's products - baby oil, shampoo, lotion, soap - not a bad gift, even today.
Often a grandmother, aunt or friend would have crocheted or knitted a shawl/afghan from soft pastel yarn or embroidered a fancy bib. And always there were cutesy games to be played and squeals of laughter when the first gift was opened and the name of the giver was announced - since that person was said to be the honoree at the next baby shower.
But there were never any men present. The same was true for bridal showers, and that has changed as well. I don't especially object to these changes. After all, women shouldn't have all the fun. The men at Sunday's shower seemed to be quite content, and as far as I could tell, the women did not seem to mind that they were there. To the children present, it was just another big party, complete with balloons, flowers, cake, punch and a big pile of beautiful packages. But the bottom line is the little girl, due in October. Before they all know it, it will be her fourth birthday. Time flies, and memories pile up.
Our twins - and their sister - will celebrate their birthdays together on Aug. 20, a compromise date between their birthdays. (That day is also Granduncle Jerald's birthday.) With distinctly different personalities, they probably won't allow for a joint party after this year. Although the soon-to-be 5-year-old has been promised a trip to the salon for ear piercing on her actual birthday to substitute for her own party, there is just nothing like your own party on your real birthday.
As I watched the expectant mother open those precious items on Sunday, I shared her happiness of having a little girl. After all, "sugar and spice and everything nice is what little girls are made out of." Who in their right mind would choose "snakes and snails and puppy dog tails" over that? Well, I guess some of those guys might.
Gender aside, those first years, although filled with learning the necessary survival tactics, are also the years when the basis and foundation for their lives are formed. Life's lessons aren't easily learned, and many of us go through life without learning the basics. The 5-year-old just learned a new lesson. She mistakenly assumed that everybody could have their ears pierced when they reach that magic age. When she saw her 3-year-old neighbor with earrings, she asked, "Are you already 5 years old?" The rules of life, apparently, aren't the same for everyone. That level playing field has a few bumps.
Happy birthday, twins!
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock's official historian and the former director of the Woodstock Public Library.