GENDER REVEALS: It's not tradition, it's money
THERE have always been rituals around the birth of children. Christenings, baptisms, birth notices and, in some cultures, a period of solitude, but consumerist traditions always fight their way into society.
In fact, society is full of these "traditions", which have been seamlessly weaved into the fabric of life. Think Father's Day, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day - the list goes on.
But the latest trend to hit the market is gender-reveal parties. I remember seeing a few things about this floating around the internet five years ago, but now it's turned into a competition to come up with the most elaborate way to tell the world if your kid is going to have a penis or a vagina.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say it may be the fault of social media.
We live in a time where sharing every detail of your life is easier than ever - you just write a status and post. But it's a little more complicated than that. You want people to engage and interact with what you are posting. "It's a girl" just isn't going to cut it anymore.
You need puppies, balloons, cakes, lollies, other children, shoes, nail polish, blimps, skywriting, burnouts, coloured car exhaust, confetti bombs - and the list goes on.
Then you need someone to film it. Some people get Mum or their best friend to do it, but others hire a photographer or a videographer to make sure their occasion can't possibly be topped by their Facebook friends.
Social media has made us so many of us a little crazy. We're all trying to outdo each other in every possible way.
I can forgive a lot of the annoying things social media has done to society - mostly because my generation is the reason these annoyances exist (except for 40-year-old women on Facebook - they are a new species of over-the-top Minion memes), but I can't get over the gender-reveal ridiculousness.
Having a baby is expensive. It's at least 18 years of clothing, food, doctor appointments, school supplies, holidays - the list goes on. And it's getting more and more expensive as time goes by.
We already have to deal with the baby shower debacle. I know gifts are involved, but it's another one of those things a company like Hallmark has created to make sure they have a hold on the "new baby" craze.
I'm childless, but I have a few friends with little tykes, so I know the kind of things that go into preparing for a child. Or a few of them anyway. And they're all expensive.
So, let's add to the list of expenses the ordering of balloons, just so we can set them off into the atmosphere and contribute to the amount of rubbish floating around in the universe. Because that is really what the world needs.
Gender reveals are the latest grab at making money out of a part of life. Why are we so hell-bent on sharing every part of our lives, including what is between our unborn child's legs.
It's time to re-evaluate what's important in life and assess why we are doing such ridiculous things.
Why not put the money into a bank account for your unborn child or, better yet, buy nappies, prams, cots or literally anything else to help with the baby, because it will be better than wasting your money on a gender reveal.
Life As We Know It is usually written by Lesley Apps, but she's on holidays and Caitlan Charles has decided to give it a go. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org