a couple of weeks ago, as i was going through my mail, i grimaced on receiving yet another invitation to yet another baby shower. before i go any further, i must admit that i am the only person i know, among all my friends, who is not yet a grandmother, or as one of billy crystal's characters put it, so succinctly, "i am the only barren grandmother on the cul de sac". this state of affairs has made me a bit cranky when it comes to baby showers, but this particular shower was being given in honor of a young woman i truly loved and so i rsvped in the affirmative.
upon arriving at the designated restaurant, i realized immediately, that i knew no one except the mother and grandmother to be. the only other older woman in the room was the other future grandmother. we were three crones among a group of beautiful, young, women. many of the women were mothers already and i heard names like riley and quinn and brooklyn being bandied about as they spoke of their children. there were a few other glowing pregnant women and then there were two who had just recently given birth. they were the ones with the milk swollen breasts and the new baby fat still clinging stubbornly to their bellies and hips.
i sat through the lunch smiling, yet not really feeling a part of the day. when the present opening began and the obligatory oohing and aahing started i wanted to scream. but then one of the new mothers started to describe how helpful a particular gift (some sort of bunting) had been to her during the first few weeks of her baby's life, and i suddenly got it.
they can call this a baby shower but what it really was was a ritual - a rite of passage. since the beginning of time, women have gathered together to help each other through the most important and thrilling moment in their lives - childbirth. while we no longer sit crouched around fires, dressed in animal pelts and gnawing on bones, we are accomplishing the same thing. i suddenly felt valuable for the experience i could share and valued as well for just being a part of this ancient ritual.
it didn't matter if i wasn't a grandmother or even if i never am. what mattered was that i belonged to something far greater than just my own particular family. i belong to a sorority of women who, as much as we are different, are really all so very much the same. we all have so much to offer each other and that is a concept that often gets overlooked.