Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Way of Blessing

I am almost afraid to open the envelope. I am afraid I have remembered it wrong, that it was not that thing I am determined to keep in my heart through the three a.m. feedings and the end-of-my-rope moments. 

But that is silly. What I remember is true, and what I remember is this: a room full of women from many corners of my life sitting on the floor in a circle, talking to me about the challenges and joys of parenting. Ellen organized a blessing way* for me on Saturday. This is the second one she has held for me. Though some of the same women were there for both, this felt very different from the one we held before Ada's arrival. Last time it was a ceremony marking a transition - from pregnancy into labor and delivery, from being childless to becoming a parent. This time almost everyone there was a mother (whether of young children or children long grown) and all the women knew about parenting through experience with their own and other children. This time was less "welcome to the club" than "we understand and are there with you." Each woman spoke honestly about her own challenges and about those she knew I would face in the coming months and years. Each brought me their joy as well, reminding me how amazing it is to be a parent and how important it is to pay attention to that, even as we all struggle with fatigue, boredom, loss of self, and did I mention fatigue?

One woman spoke of having moments in which she could see her children for who they are, and in which she could most clearly know their happiness as she responded to them fully, or see their fear when she showed anger.

Another talked about the touch of her child, and others could not help but agree that their love for their children was so strong and visceral that it caused them to need that child's touch. The women described repeatedly falling in love with their children as they grew and changed every day.

One woman offered her belief that I will be able to manage my new life, even or especially on the days I feel most overwhelmed. Another brought me a painted print of Ada's once tiny hand, one that I can't look at without crying. A writer friend gave me a cherished photograph of her crying child, while another friend made three linked paper hearts. And each woman gave me a bead, which symbolized something she wanted for me, or was something she loved, or was what she could lay her hands on at 10 p.m. last night. All will go on my little shrine, and will join the beads I received before Ada's birth and still keep close.

As each woman spoke, I found myself wishing for a way to change their words into something I could put in a bottle or wrap like a scarf around me. I was so touched by what these women said, and the honesty and emotion with which they said it. Several of the women who cried expressed a surprise that they were so touched by what everyone said. I was not surprised, but I was so happy that this moment meant something to the other participants too. I also knew that as much as the blessingway meant to me in the moment, that I will need the memory of these women's words when I get to the hard places ahead. I have been so afraid of what is next that I have not been very open to the fact that what is coming is assuredly both joy and pain. My heart opened up a bit more this weekend, and I want the cushion of these women's words to protect that openness. I will fill my pockets with their words and remind myself that I can pull them out whenever I need them.

*From my limited experience, each blessingway is unique. For some of the things a blessingway can be, look here.


  1. That sounds just beautiful. It's nice to think of the word "way" as meaning "path," something that can lead you forward even though the journey might be challenging.

  2. I'd never heard of a Blessing Way before reading this. Amazing how much support and love can be conveyed in such a simply way . . .

  3. It sounds like it was a lovely and moving gathering. Good friends are the best.

  4. I'm so sorry that I had to miss this. It sounds like it was wonderful!

  5. Mother-people are good. I cherish the one blessingway I have gone to and look to that exchange even as the door of birthing seems so far behind me.

    I would send you a bumpy little 'diamond' like the one N. and I chose for J. Something precious and in that vocabularly of vigourous girls. But mostly something reflective and clear. Something to rest upon the thought of clarity especially when there is none.

  6. I teared up reading this. You have remembered it well, I suspect. And it will come back to you just when you need it.