A mother blessing, sometimes called a blessingway, is kind of an alternative to a baby shower. Since this is our third baby, we really didn’t have a need for a shower, and to be honest, I kind of loathe those creepy games where you can’t say certain words or have to guess what kind of chocolate is grossly melted into a diaper… yuck! But I did want to celebrate the birth of this baby, and to spend time with the women close to me… I think I kind of needed the encouragement actually.
So I threw my own mother blessing. Mine was pretty casual and simple. I invited my beautiful midwives, and my mother and my mom-away-from-mom, Jody. And just a few close friends. All together, there were ten of us here, including me.
A blessing way is a celebration of the rite-of-passage that birth and motherhood brings. The celebration and ceremony is less about the baby and setting up a nursery and more about connecting as women, encouragement and support for the upcoming birth, and celebrating labor and becoming a mother. And I’d never been to one. I had mostly read about them online. But I really like the idea of them, and some of the things that are traditionally included in a mother blessing.
Some things that women commonly do at mother blessing include candle lighting, flower ceremony, and a bead ceremony where each woman chooses a bead for the mother, which is them strung together onto a necklace or bracelet for the mother to wear during labor. My sister did something similar for me at Henry’s baby shower, so I didn’t do this at my mother blessing. But this is what I decided to include:
– An introduction where we can share about ourselves, our mothers and our own journey into motherhood.
- Next would be a binding ceremony where we will all get a red string bracelet, representing my connection to each of woman present. When I go into labor, they will each get to “cut the cord” of their bracelet, and send a prayer or well wishes my way for a safe birth.
- Then henna artist, Amy Swagman, will be coming to paint my belly. And while this is going on, I wanted each woman to make a prayer flag for the upcoming birth.
Of course, being crazy me, I started getting jumpy about labor starting early (I was 12 days early with Emmett), so I scheduled my henna appointment ahead of time. My mom went with me to Amy’s house, and we both got a little mehndi done. It was really great, and I am glad I did it early, because Amy ended up having to attend two births the weekend of my blessingway and she would have missed it anyway.
So the mother blessing itself ended up being very casual indeed. We sat around chatting for a while, and then did the binding ceremony. We passed a red ribbon around the circle, each woman saying who their mother was and their grandmother. Then we cut the ribbon between each of us and tied them to our wrists.
Next, since the henna was all done, we got the table set up for everyone to make the flags. I had fabric markers, glue and various craft items for people to use on the flags. They all turned out beautiful. The idea with prayer flags is that they should spend some time out in the elements… with wind taking the prayers. then when they become tattered or when they are no longer needed, they are burned, rather than kept as a keepsake.
Right now, the flags are hanging in my living room, so I can look at them during labor. I know they will probably spend a little time in the baby’s room as well, and they will go outside at some point too. I think it will take a lot of grit for me to work up to burning them.
After the flags were done, we had brunch. I asked everyone to bring something, and everything was delicious. I had promised gifts to my friends too, but being nine months pregnant, I didn’t get them done… they are sitting about a third of the way done on a shelf down in my basement. Thankfully, no one seemed put out by not getting their gift.
I’m sure it was less than many people do for a mother blessing. I was kind of winging it. But I really enjoyed it, and it was really a no stress party and great time with family and friends who loved me. Just what I needed.
Edited to add – Amy Swagman now makes a beautiful prayer flag kit for mother blessings! Check it out!