|Image c/o jentrulson.com|
For my pregnancies a traditional baby shower never appealed, and I didn't yet know about mother blessings, so there was no rite of passage as such, bar the birth itself! But a mother blessing is such a wonderful, memorable occasion, it's something every woman should experience at least once. I've been lucky to have been invited to a few, and even if you don't know the mother so well, the level of intimacy in a mother blessing ensures you leave there feeling like you have made some new friends, and looking forward to supporting her further in the future.
A mother blessing focuses on the transition the woman experiences to motherhood, it is a safe place for women to gather in support and encouragement of this rite of passage. There are very few sacred rites of passage remaining in our culture (unless you are of a practising religion) and this is one where all you need to share is a common bond with the pregnant lady. She should feel loved and accepted, and positive about the upcoming labour and birth. This is not a place to share horror stories or negative experiences, and all who attend should be mindful of bringing positive energy.
I have just sent out texts to 9 relatives and friends of my cousin, so there will be 11 of us present. This mother blessing will take place in the lady's house, in the afternoon, and the ceremony will be followed by afternoon tea. We will begin with a cocktail, just because!
She has chosen to invite close friends and family who have already proven supportive of her in the past and whom she feels comfortable with.
I texted the following to the guests:
"XXX has asked me to invite you to her Mother Blessing, taking place on X May at 2pm, in XX(her address). We will meet to mark her journey to motherhood, to honour her and give words of encouragement and support as she enters this new phase in her life. Please bring a bead, a flower, a ribbon/yarn/string about 10 inches long, a written message of support/poem/passage of text on an A5 page and a picture/photo/image for her blessing book. X will provide afternoon tea. If you can't make it please post these items marking the envelope "Blessing", your input is very important to X. Thanks, see you soon! Niamh"
One of the nicest things about a mother blessing is having some physical reminders of it afterwards, to use as supportive aids in labour and birth. Everyone will bring a bead, which I will string into a bracelet, for her to bring with her to the hospital. This will remind her of the empowering feelings she had during the Blessing ceremony, and give her a boost if she needs it during labour.
The flowers will be put into a vase and used to decorate the table, and she can dry and keep them as a reminder of the ceremony. The ribbon/yarn/strings will be tied one by one around a large candle as each guest speaks a wish for the birth to be a positive one. My cousin has chosen to gift a small candle to each guest as a memento of the day. Once I hear she is in labour I will send a group text to the guests so they can light their candles to show support for my cousin. For her, knowing this circle of support is actively thinking of her, no matter what time of day or night, will be a great comfort in labour.
I will buy a blank notebook and paste in the written messages and images to make a Blessing book, to which she can add her own affirmations, or memories and have as a keepsake. We also hope (time permitting) to make a circle of handprints (using paint on wallpaper) for her to bring to the hospital, and also we will bind everyones wrists with string, which will be cut and tied so we all have a bracelet reminding us of her upcoming birth, which we cut off once the baby has been born.
I will be researching some positive affirmations and meaningful messages to use throughout the ceremony. We will probably sit around a large cloth on the ground, with the candles in the middle of us. This is more bonding than being at different levels on chairs/sofas etc. There will be soft music playing in the background, and after the calm of the ceremony, we will celebrate with cupcakes and tea, and lots of chat!
Many of the guests are not mothers themselves, and hopefully the symbolism and the feeling of the ceremony will inspire them in their future journeys through life, whether with or without children. I really wish I had known about mother blessings when I was preparing for motherhood, but I find being involved with them and in a supportive group of mother friends gives me the same encouragement and strength when I need it.
I have to say a special thanks to my own circle of mothering friends, many in La Leche League, many of whom found my blog before they found me, because they have brought so much fun and support to my life. It can be a lonely road being an "attachment parent" in the midst of a mainstream culture, but when you find others walking your way it makes the journey all the more worthwhile.
Have you attended a Mother Blessing? Please share some memories with us!