Sunday, January 9, 2011

Showers of expectations

I think that I am missing a gene from one of my X chromosomes.

I attended my sister-in-law's baby shower yesterday.  I love my sister-in-law dearly and was happy to be there to support her.  If only I could have supported her in another way.

I detest showers.  Once I was engaged, I stated clearly to everyone I knew that I did not, under any circumstances, want a bridal shower.  Naturally, everyone assumed I was just being humble or something, and I ended up with three of them.

Apparently, women enjoy playing games like "watch the bride stuff marshmallows into her mouth for every question she gets wrong about her fiance" or "guess the candy bar smushed up in the diaper to represent baby poo."  Not to mention that the sitting-in-front-of people-unwrapping-presents felt just as awkward as I had imagined when it was my turn to do it (three times).   I continually reminded myself that the people who threw me these showers sincerely cared for me and were just following societal norms; the abnormality was me.

Don't get me wrong; I am happily married and hoping to be a mother someday.  But, I don't feel compelled to rush over to every baby I see and "goo" and "coo."  I think patting and rubbing other women's pregnant abdomens is a reprehensible lack of respect for the pregnant lady's personal space.  I am exponentially more interested in health behavior theory, our hypertension METRIC project, and the data behind that new Pradaxa than I am in cooking and baking.

Please note, also, that I have the utmost respect for cooks and bakers!  Secretly, I wish that I was more interested in cooking and baking; I'd probably be better at both tasks if I was, for one thing.  And, if I shared these interests the way I'm "supposed to," maybe I would fit in with the other guests at the bridal and baby showers I attend, at family gatherings, in church ladies' groups.  Instead, I am made keenly aware of my different-ness, which, when viewed with the consistency of countless events over countless years, starts to feel like deficiency.

Did my medical career seduce me away from these interests?  Or, did my inherent lack of interest in them make it easier to choose a demanding career?

I would like to feel that it's 2011, and gender roles are much more fluid than even twenty years ago.  I would like to feel that I am not less of a woman for not enjoying all things domestic, that a woman can be anything and anybody that she chooses. I would like to feel that it's okay to just be myself.

Today, though, I'm feeling that I'd better give another go at that Betty Crocker cookbook instead.


  1. Showers are fun in that you get to visit with people you like to spend time with (which means there are some showers that it's best to skip).

    As for cooking, there are too many interesting things to do in life to spend vast amounts of time in the kitchen. A good crockpot (or two) makes it possible to arrive home at night exhausted and have dinner ready to eat as soon as you move the crockpot from the kitchen counter to the dinner table. Bonus: a few good quick & easy recipes provide plenty of conversation at various gatherings :)

  2. Have no fear Dr. Jenn, I am a nurse and have been for 37 years and I hate showers too. Fortunately I have been able to frighten any family and or friends away from even considering throwing me a shower for either births or marriage.
    Your x chromosomes are not broken, there are many of us out here who think personal space is a good thing and should be respected and showers are a unpleasant, uncomfortable experience forced upon women who are emotionally suseptible to peer pressure.