Having babies, going to war, same thing, right?
Not quite, but in Native American traditions, the preparations are similar. Last weekend I gathered with a group of women for a version of the Blessingway ceremony. My friend (let’s call her Margaret) is expecting a baby, her first, who will be born some time in the next few days. Needless to say, anticipation is running high! The women who attended the Blessingway are all friends of the mother-to-be, and we came together to give her our blessings and share our hopes for her over the coming days, weeks and years. We lit candles, read poems and wove a bracelet for each of us. The time we spent was special, and hopefully Margaret drew strength from it. Hopefully she will continue to do so.
The blessingway tradition is not widely known about, and it contrasts with the usual kind of baby shower, giving soon-to-be mothers an opportunity to be a little introspective and to be made a fuss of. Both of these things seem to vapourise as soon as baby arrives, so maybe it also serves as a kind of “last hurrah” to the woman as a single being, before she no longer has an “Inside Baby” as Margaret puts it! It’s a chance for the woman’s “Tribe” to celebrate who she is, and the amazing journey of motherhood she is about to embark upon.
The practical preparations we make for birth are many: clothes, nappies, somewhere for the baby to sleep, plans for where it will be born… we put a lot of energy into that side of things. A blessingway helps to remind all present that motherhood is about to begin. And as Margaret said so succinctly, being somebody’s mum “is a very big thing – it’s massive”. I agree totally – it is the hardest job I have ever done, but equally the most rewarding.
While we’re waiting for the baby to put in an appearance, here’s a poem that was read at Alt.D2’s blessingway, and at Margaret’s:
I hear you calling
I share your voice
I know your secrets
I’ve made my choice
Through the window
From life’s great tree
My arms wait here
To receive you