Wedding season is upon us. The coronavirus has sadly changed many plans, but hopefully life will soon resume and weddings and showers will still get to happen. I know that wedding showers are meant to help soon-to-be married couples start their first home. While the sentiment is nice, as a child bride whose brain was not fully cooked the day I said, “I do,” I think we should rethink the whole thing.
Not do away with wedding showers. For sure, not. Young adults with loads of college debt need all the help they can get. And I am happy to oblige in exchange for rubbery chicken and the Cha Cha Slide.
But you know who else needs some help? A middle-aged woman who is still using said wedding gifts fifteen years and five kids later. Someone who now realizes that good pots and pans are more important than building a DVD collection that will unknowingly age faster than that young bride’s face. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have registered for good health insurance, probably a urinal, and the most expensive noise canceling headphones money could buy.
Unfortunately, my under-developed brain apparently thought that marriage was built on love and 47 picture frames. I barely knew how to make mac ‘n cheese from a box, so surely I would never need things such as a “blender” or “mixing bowls”? And I hadn’t lost enough sleep to yet know the value of good sheets.
I am not necessarily advocating for anniversary showers, mostly because I don’t have the energy to feign excitement over a toothbrush holder. But between graduations and showers, most of life’s celebrations happen before 30. When the times we really need to come together and party happen well after.
Because I love a good list, and I have too much time on my hands, I have compiled a helpful guide of life events that deserve a party (and gifts if you’re feeling generous):
- Potty training a toddler. I hate potty training more than anything. I would rather spend my entire paycheck on diapers than chase a naked two-year-old around the house, asking if he needs to potty. Put him on the potty, for him not to potty. Until he’s off the potty and pees all over the floor next to the potty. Have I said the word “potty” enough? Multiply that times a million, and you have day one of potty training. It’s the worst.
Gift ideas include: professional carpet cleaning, air fresheners, and enough chocolate to eat your feelings
- Teaching a child to read. Just when you recover from the PTSD that is feeding M&Ms to a child in exchange for poopies, you must begin the second worst part of parenting: phonics and sight words. There is nothing more boring on the planet than listening to a child sound out “ca-ca-ca….DOG!” How we get from “ca” to “dog”, when it’s obviously “cat” (AND THERE IS EVEN A PICTURE OF A CAT), is something I will never comprehend. Literacy is important, of course, so we must forge ahead. The first time a child successfully reads a book, we should throw that mom a ticker tape parade (that she definitely does not have to clean up herself).
Gift ideas include: copious amounts of coffee and a ceremonial burning of phonics flashcards
- The first time you find a gray hair (or a much too long facial hair). guide of life events that deserve a party Obviously #1 and #2 are to blame for this milestone that happened WAYYYYYY sooner than my child-bride-self expected. Hair dye covers the external evidence, but internally, this sends a woman spiraling. How is the universe so against us that we still get pimples while our hair grays and our preteens wonder aloud if we are really wearing that shirt out of the house?! It’s the perfect storm of self-esteem annihilation that honestly deserves a party more than ever.
Gift ideas include: telling me I’m pretty and my shirt is totally cute; a magnifying mirror if you want to be X’ed out of my life forever
- The moment you realize you’re becoming your mother. Look, I have an awesome mom. There are worse things in life I could be. But sometimes my mother comes straight out of my mouth, and I am surprised I am now the woman my teenage self was embarrassed to exist on the same planet with. Sure, I inherited some great qualities from her; it’s just never not surprising that we’ve arrived at this place.
Gift ideas include: a time machine, a JCPenney gift card because it’s inevitable, and cute shoes (because my mama knows how to spend money on good shoes)
- Surviving middle school. No, not as a middle schooler, but as a parent of a middle schooler. My oldest son just finished 8th grade, and that’s a day I wasn’t sure either of us would see. He is especially gifted at completing schoolwork but not turning it in, then being totally shocked when his teacher called me. I mean, he did the work. How did they not magically know this? I especially loved being asked 12 times a day if he could download Snapchat. Apparently, my overused phrase, “That’s been asked and answered” was taken as more of a challenge than a statement.
But I did it, you guys. And honestly my pride over this moment is the entire reason for this post. Middle school graduation is enough of a prize for this particular victory, but gift cards to a therapist are welcome. Especially when I remember I have to endure this four more times. Never mind the fact I still have to potty train my last toddler and teach her to read. Yikes.
Before this devolves into a cry for help (as if it hasn’t already), I will stop. There are dozens more events that definitely deserve a celebration. Too many to list here, honestly.
If my friends and family fulfilled my Target registry without knowing if this thing would even work out (and probably assumed it wouldn’t, given that Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was listed when everyday dishes were nowhere to be found), then surely we can honor the mostly overlooked milestones that are fraught with more tears, prayers, and elation than a wedding will ever be.
Shower brides, of course. But when the china has collected dust and the silver has tarnished, celebrate the middle-aged women who have lived enough life to know good shoes are always worth it and life’s little milestones are what makes it all worth living.