Yesterday morning we went to the baptism of our friends' daughter. My friend was a bit surprised that we wanted to go, but I thought it would be nice to support them, and David is their home teacher, and Noodle and Spud love to play with the kids, plus I thought it'd be good to see a friend get baptized--they see their cousins baptisms every so often, but we haven't been to any in a while. Anyways, we went. I really enjoyed it, in spite of Spud deciding after five minutes that he was starving and wouldn't hush up about it for long for the rest of the services. Such is life, though. There was another little girl who got baptized at the same time. I'll call her Alana for my purposes. Anyways, we're all in the same ward, but I've never met or even seen Alana's mother, as she has cancer and isn't able to get out much. But she was there at the baptism, in a wheelchair. She is very thin and looked quite frail, and it's obvious that it is an effort for her to do much of anything. But I could still see her beauty, especially in her love for her family. A couple of different times, I saw her make the effort to reach out her arm and put it around her daughter or touch her husband, and I couldn't help but be choked up. The obvious exertion involved for her moved me. I couldn't help but put my arm around my own sweet daughter and squeeze her close to me. How this mother must ache for the strength to hold her children close. How she must miss the ability to play with them, hold them, and just generally experience life with them. Through all of our financial struggles over the past while, I have made a very conscious effort to express gratitude frequently for our health. Money comes and goes, bur good health and the safety of loved ones is such a blessing. Watching this mother with her family is indelibly etched into my mind. I hope I will remember my thoughts and emotions and use them to help me be a better mother, wife, and friend.
Then last night I hosted a party thrown by a friend of mine for another friend. It was a "Mother's Blessing," which is kind of like a baby shower, except it's all about the mother and not so much about the baby. It was really really neat and fun, and I'm not even a birth fanatic like some of my good friends. (By that I mean that I am not trained as a doula, childbirth educator, La Leche League leader, or any of those other birth/baby hobbies--a bunch of my friends are!) We all shared positive birth affirmations with our friend, and she read some of her birth fears and then burned them in the firepit. Additionally, there was lots of food and chatting. We ended the night by henna tattooing her pregnant belly (which is so fun & cool looking) and giving the rest of us small henna tattoos elsewhere. When I first heard of these sorts of parties a while back, I thought it was just kind of weird. But as I've progressed further into motherhood, I've come to love the idea and see their place in society. Everywhere in our culture we hear the message, "It's all about the baby." We are not a culture that supports mothers-to-be, or even current mothers very well. We have baby showers to focus even more attention on the baby that will come, while the mother is just viewed as a staging ground. I think this is because we have messed up views about birth. We've taken away the rituals and the power of birthing a child and said that all that matters is a healthy baby. But there really is a lot more that can come out of a good birth experience. It is empowering to give birth. It's amazing to know that your body is capable of doing something so intense and important as bringing a baby out into the world. It's awesome to feel connected with millennia of women continuing the circle of life. But our society has decided that birth is only a necessary evil to be dealt with in order to get THE BABY at the end. I think it's sad that so many women don't even know or care that they are missing something that can be truly transformative.