I’m trying to decide why exactly this is bothering me and wondering if there’s anything I can do about before the event takes place, and hoping I haven’t already botched it!
A month or so ago, a couple of girlfriends basically told me,”We know you’d rather not have a baby shower, but we’re planning one for you anyways.” (I love to plan parties but feel shy being the guest of honor at one). Since I know them well enough to know their minds were already made up, I thanked them for their generosity, said please don’t trouble yourselves too much, and at their request, put them in touch with my mom so she could assist with some of the details (first baby/grandchild, long awaited). I was asked to provide a registry, which I made an effort to keep modest and limited to the necessities and a few ideas for those cute/fun baby items, and a guest list. Based on talking with my mom and the history of showers with this circle of friends, and the fact that my husband wasn’t really interested in a co-ed event, the guest list was all women—girlfriends from a couple different circles who had all met previously, a few in-laws and relatives, and a few mothers of the girlfriends, who had known me since high school or even earlier. It’s been hard for me to not try to interfere, since I have worked as a professional event planner in the past, but I’m really trying to adhere to Etiquette Hell’s rules governing parties celebrating one’s own milestones.
One invitee, with whom I am close, is a newlywed and still completely in a honeymoon phase—she’s rarely gone anywhere without “Stan” since they met a year ago. This same friend, “Millie”, is having surgery today, about two weeks before the baby shower. She’s understandably nervous and with her tendency to over-analyze and dramatize, has been reminding us for months that she can’t commit to any plans for at least six to eight weeks following her surgery because she’s not sure how her recuperation will go. Again, I completely understand that she’ll need to take it easy, but I’ve only asked Millie to save the date for two luncheon-type events over the next two months, and assured her that if needed she’ll be able to rest on the couch with pillows if needed—I’m hardly asking her to compete in a triathlon or anything!
I saw Millie and Stan two nights ago (she asked my husband and me to join them for dinner to “share big news”, ( the news being that her surgery had been scheduled), and she again said she hoped to attend my baby shower but it would depend on her recovery. She then dove right in and said she may need to bring Stan with her to the shower to “help her walk” and prevent anyone from “bumping into her.” Being put on the spot, and again, not having any of the planning information since I’ve forced myself to stay out of it, I kind of stammered and said she should talk to the two ladies hosting and planning the shower since I’ve been kept in the dark… I like to think that I brushed it off elegantly but my husband told me later he could see I was flustered.
Several things are bothering me about what’s happened:
1. Having hosted many events myself, I would be put off by someone inviting another guest to this type of party, though at least she’s kind of asking first.
2. I can understand Millie’s potential need for assistance, but she is well aware that her own mother has been invited as well as several other women with whom she’s very friendly—if it were me I would have asked someone already on the guest list if they could help me to and from the car, on stairs, etc.
3. I’m uncomfortable with the way I was put on the spot in front of Stan—it’s not that I don’t like him, but Millie didn’t give me a chance to prepare a response.
4. Given that the shower has been planned to be a women-only affair, I’m a bit bothered by the idea that if she brings Stan he’d be the only male there—he’s a great guy but if we were including men I’d have wanted my husband, father and grandfather to attend.
I gave my mom a heads-up about the conversation in case Millie approached her with the same request/FYI, and I’m debating whether I should let the two hostesses know—I don’t want to be in thee middle of it but I don’t want them to be caught off-guard the way I was. Further complicating things is the fact that Millie has been resentful of the two hostesses for the last few months stemming from their behavior at her and Stan’s wedding.
I certainly don’t want to come across as a diva or try to control the guests’ behavior but is there anything else I can do to steer Millie towards alternatives that don’t include uninvited guests? Thank you for reading my vent/questions. Please help me stay out of Etiquette Hell! 0309-15
You are putting too much thought into this tempest in a tea pot. You are not philosophically opposed to men at the shower and I very much doubt anyone else will see Stan and wish their own husband could have been there, too. The most likely person to be embarrassed and awkward will be Stan who will stand out like a sore thumb amidst the sea of estrogen. And for all you know, Stan could stay long enough to get Millie into the house and happily ensconced on a comfy sofa at which point he leaves with a promise to return in a few hours to retrieve Millie.
You didn’t mention your mother’s reaction to this tidbit of information and I suspect she just doesn’t see it as a problem worthy of much consideration. When we love people we make accommodations for them and if Millie needs the security of her husband helping her after surgery, then it is a no brainer that friends facilitate the need being met with little to no regard as to how this might change the look of a party. And for the record, I’ve been post operative twice in the past five years and would have never presumed upon my mother or female guests to a function to be my personal assistants to “help me to and from the car, on stairs, etc.” My husband is the one who was intimately involved in my healthcare issues and knew exactly what I could manage or not, whereas even my closest female friends may not have been aware of specific areas of weakness.
Millie could be a drama queen who is taking the doctor’s recommendations to rest and recuperate 6 to 8 weeks post surgery too literally. But once the surgery is past, she discovers that recovery isn’t as bad as she thought!