mother blessings (+ free downloads)
In our culture we do a great job with baby showers. We plan lovely events to come around a pregnant mama to give her gifts and supplies for her baby, shopping from extensive registries full of all the latest gear and lots of pretty little extras, too. Maybe we play some shower games that are often weirdly GROSS, aren't they? Like the fake baby poop in diapers thing? Or the eating of baby food?! It's just a little weird. But the mama walks away with more practical supplies than she could ever truly need, and we call it a success.
But what doesn't get addressed in this picture is the mama's spirit - those deep parts of her that are standing on the brink of such a remarkable quest and transformation. She might be secretly terrified, or blissfully clueless. She may be carrying deep and unspoken fears and hopes about her birth, her body, her life baby and her new life and identity. But there isn't space in a baby shower for any of that.
Alternatively, Mother Blessings (or Blessingways) are a ceremonial gathering around an expectant mother designed to bolster and encourage her with the support of other loving women as she approaches the birth of her child. As far as anyone can tell, the practice is borrowed and evolved from Native American groups.
I was introduced to the concept before the birth of my first baby in 2011. My sister-in-law Lisa from Pittsburgh had a doula-friend who offered one to her before the birth of her first born. She came to visit several weeks before my birth and asked if she could host a mother blessing for me, too. Armed with a simple liturgy filled with prayers and affirmations, some embroidery floss, and small candles, she led me and a group of my closest women friends and sisters through one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. Because I loved it so much, I wanted all my friends to have the same thing!
Over time I've tweaked the liturgy Lisa first offered to me, making it more closely fit my own style and in response to seeing what has worked and what hasn't worked among my mostly Jesus-following peer group here in Grand Rapids. But the heart is the same: that every woman should have safe and sacred space to air out her fears, receive the wisdom of other women, and to participate in symbolic actions that remind her how connected and supported she is.
I'm happy to say that as I've offered mother blessings to my friends, they have turned around to offer it to their friends, too, and it has been spreading in many directions around here.
SO if you're a pregnant mama reading this, talk with a close friend and ask her to download this liturgy as a starting point, purchase the supplies on the supply list, and get a date on the calendar (ideally around 36-37 weeks of your pregnancy). Then invite 8-10 trusted wise women to join you (much bigger than this tends to lose some quality of connection).
If you're my doula client, bring it up with me, if you like; I'd love to help facilitate one for you.
You are worth this kind of sacred rite of passage. You will be blessed more than you can imagine!
Please do this for your friends, sisters. It matters so much.