I am incredibly fortunate to live in a community where women make an effort to continue the tradition of the blessingway, or mother blessing. This tradition brings a group of women together around one of their number – an expectant mother preparing to welcome her coming child. A blessingway is different from a baby shower in that it focuses on simply blessing the mother and empowering her for the birthing and mothering time she will soon enter. I was very literally blessed with a blessingway the weekend before last.
Two of my friends organized the blessingway held at my house and I was delighted to be surrounded by many friends and loved ones. My mother made a suprise trip into town just to attend and made my blessingway incredibly special. She also came bearing tokens of support from many of the women in my family which really meant a lot to me 🙂 My mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law also made it into town which was truly wonderful.
My blessingway was a simple event – we all gathered in a circle and were welcomed to the circle with a candle and a reminder of how important it is to have the support of women in the community. Then everyone went around and said their name and how they knew me. I really like this part of a blessingway because it's fun to find out how everyone knows the mother – and fun to rekindle the memories of first getting to know somebody.
Everybody brought a bead and a small candle to leave with me. The bead is for my birthing necklace and the candles to burn during the birth. Both help me to remember the love and support I have from the women in my community, and that they are thinking of me as I am bringing a new baby into the world. Galen was born with just the candles from my blessingway with him burning and the memory of the strength they gave me is a powerful one.
We went around the circle a second time, with everyone explaining the candle and bead they'd picked (if they had a special significance. Sometimes they are picked just because they look or smell pretty!) As I mentioned above, my mom brought beads from many of the women in my family and that really meant so much to me. It's lovely to feel their support even as we are far away. She also brought a special charm from my dad and I will admit that made me cry. I am still very much a Daddy's girl! Mom brought her candle and another candle in the scent that my late grandmother always gave to her – that was really special, too, because I looked up to my grandmother so much (and in fact, this website is dedicated to her memory!)
Many of the women also brought a short poem, quote, saying, or story to share and all of those were really uplifting. It's a lot of fun but also a little embarassing to hear everyone talk about your good qualities and what they admire in you. Sometimes I don't feel nearly so “together” or as good of a mother as they shared. But it is wonderfully uplifting to hear, and to hear that you may inspire someone else on her mothering or life journey.
Circle of the Sun
After sharing beads, candles, and words, my friend Kat sang. She sang a song that I had requested called Music In My Mother's House (Stuart Stotts) and it's a song about there always being music in Mama's house. I can remember music all around as I was a child growing up and I still love to sing and share music with my children. It is my hope that they will remember music as being part of growing up in our home – through the good times and the hard times. It was really lovely to have Kat sing. We also sang Circle of the Sun (Sally Rogers), which is one we usually sing at blessingways in my community and I love it!
“Babies are born in the circle of the sun, circle of the sun on their birthin' day”
We closed the blessingway by “weaving” ourselves together with a ball of wool. The wool ball is passed around the circle and everybody wraps it around one of their wrists once or twice. This shows how we are all connected. Then we cut the wool and tie the wool as a bracelet, which is worn until news of the baby's birth arrives. Each time you glance at the bracelet it helps remind you to send a prayer or thought for the mother-to-be.
My midwife brought her basket of wool and I chose the same wool she used to knit a hat for Galen after his birth. I thought that was pretty special. I keep looking at the bracelet on my wrist and finding it hard to believe that this one is for my upcoming birthing!
After the blessingway we shared a potluck and chatting, which was a lot of fun. Scott and the kids came home from the park and joined us for the food!
We also had a prenatal appointment just before the blessingway and having my “home visit” appointment and then the blessingway made a huge shift within me that I wasn't expecting. I was a little nervous about the blessingway because it is a big event and involves lots of people at my house – so the housework and other usual stuff makes you a little nervous. But of course it went well, and was really special with my mom there to be part of it.
But like I said, it made a huge shift – as I've shared, this pregnancy has not been an easy one for me, physically or emotionally. Because of that I've felt apprehensive about the birth in ways that I haven't felt with the other babies. But having my blessingway truly helped me. I don't know that I can explain it very well, except there was a shift from not feeling sure I was ready for birth and the baby, to a very definite feeling that I am ready to become a mother again. I am ready to welcome a new baby. Of course there's still some apprehension – as of yet I haven't had any emotions disappear instantly. But on the whole I really do feel ready. The birth supplies are set up, the tub is here, and I know that I have a group of women who are thinking about me and the upcoming birthing and new baby. It means a lot 🙂