Holy shit. I know I've turned 30 when all my friends have started families. Year of the dragon my ass, it's year of THE BABY. They are popping up like fricken mushrooms, people.
The French love babies. This is clear enough to me when strange people are constantly stopping to stare at my buddies' little ones to coo, ogle and often give totally inappropriate, unsolicited advice.
What's odd is the way the French seem to respond to babyshowers.
Not only does this beloved American tradition treasured since the 1950's not exist here, it's even less popular than picking up your dog's poop.
The first one of my girlfriends to help me learn this lesson was French. When I offered to throw her a party at 7-months along, she looked at me like a giant cockroach was crawling out of my eye-socket, and I'd just suggested we take her baby out prematurely and turn it into a piñata.
I explained that it was very common, and it would set her up for the months to come and she seemed agreeable to the idea. But as time passed, we couldn't find a suitable date, and I started to suspect her resolve to have a shower was wavering. Not being the kind of friend to force my beliefs on anyone, I let it roll, and bought her a gift which I delivered after the baby was born.
The second one was also French, but since she really could benefit from friends and family chipping in to set her up for the new addition, her enthusiasm was without compare. Lots of us banded together for what was, to my great surprise, exactly like a sleep-over between 12yo girls except everyone but the mother-to-be was getting hammered.
Several other non-Americans were having showers hosted for them by their American friends, and I noticed a strange trend. At some point I would mosey over to a French woman to ask -- "So, how are you enjoying the festivities?".
In response I got one of two things typically:
a) deafening silence coupled with a really awkward shrug that was basically the type of answer you'd expect from someone offering you a free enema. I backed away slowly because sometimes that is immediately followed by..
b) the LECTURE of the CENTURY about how WRONG it is to give your pregnant friends a gift before the baby is born.
I found out that I was :
- laughing in the face of destiny
- preparing her for great sorrow should anything go wrong
- a total ass-sprinkler for being such a BAD BAD friend
From what I gathered, the French women at these parties expected no bother to be made for the mother while she's undoubtedly going through one of the most difficult things a woman can experience physically.
So the difference imho is:
Americans: YAY!!! Let's Have a party and celebrate the wonderful new addition with lots of gifts the mom-to-be will need! Let's be *optimistic* about this pregnancy and not assume the baby will die! I'll bring pigs in a blanket! Someone sign up for alcohol-free cocktails, WE NEED CUPCAKES WITH STORKS ON THEM, STAT!
French: You, future-mother, are dead to me until that thing starts breathing on its own outside your humincubator. I don't want to celebrate your pregnancy because I feel celebrating it is like counting chicks before they've hatched.
I prefer to give gifts after the birth when the you will be a sleep-deprived, baby-pudged-up, trainwreck with baby puke on her forehead and poo on her forearm when you feel the least like having visitors because you're trying to figure out how not to kill the new human you just pushed out of your snatch.
While we're at it, I'm not sure how long you have left, so let's not celebrate your birthday until after it's happened. I know it's on a saturday this year for the first time in years, but tough tomatoes, you might get run over by a bus on Friday at 11:59 and then we'll have prematurely planned all these joyous festivities only to wallow in sorrow.
PS: I don't want to hear about how sore your boobs are when this is all over with.
So, my advice to you dear readers, is:
a) maybe don't invite the Frenchies?
b) invite them, but tell them it's a party for non-superstitious people ONLY and if they're just going to pout during the whole thing or make faces or comments they can go get stuffed.