Here are some photos from our beautiful blessingway/baby shower recently. We are now openly sharing that we are expecting a daughter in early August. ❤ 🙂
Gender is a funny thing with children and many people have strong feelings about it. Some have been quite offended when I didn’t wish to share it. Personally the only aspect of our babies gender I find relevant at this stage is that it gives me the words that define a relationship. All the gender neutral terms (child, baby etc) are independent of me. It’s ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ that makes my heart thrill that this child has such a close connection to me. So in that sense, it’s deeply important to me. We’re having a daughter, a daughter, a daughter, our daughter, and we’re so in love!
Most of the straight world sees little wrong with making a big deal out of gender, while a lot of the queer world frowns on even announcing it or letting it sway any choices. I genuinely don’t care about the gender of our child and I’d never have a baby with anyone who had such a strong preference they wouldn’t adore a baby of the ‘wrong’ gender, or cope with a child who had a different take on their gender. I care about as much about it as I do about their height or eye colour ie. I will adore whatever happens. It will have a big impact on how other people treat them, what they expect of them, where they are vulnerable, and whether this vulnerability is acknowledged or hidden. In the sense of how we navigate the world around us, gender is still a very big deal, and one I’m sensitive to. However, it’s made a big deal for babies and children in ways I find inappropriate and teeth aching.
Baby showers are also something that frankly, usually make my teeth ache. There’s a certain homogeny of experience and presentation about parenting and babies I simply don’t relate to. I want to celebrate the people and family and little one on the way. Pastel pink frills and tiny pale blue suits with trucks remind me only of how miserable I felt as a kid and the eldest girl, getting all the pink stuff. There was a wildness to my own experience of childhood I can’t find here. It’s just not my language, not my people, not my dream of motherhood.
So when Rose and I were planning – something she’s longed for for an exceptionally long time – I sort of wrote myself out of it and found it confronting to be asked what I wanted. It wasn’t an easy question to answer. In the end I fumbled around and came back with – something with poetry in it. And fire. Something with a touch of the sacred. This is a big deal for us, and there’s a dark side to it of all the little ones we grieve.
Rose has arranged baby showers for others in an ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ kind of way, so she had some clear plans and ideas about she loved most and what worked well in the past. As usual, next to her experience of this world of babies and Mums, I felt awkward and ambivalent and struggled to place myself. Nothing quite fit, I’m not the only Mum, we didn’t want a female only space, or the usual gifts of clothes as we have a lot already… At first none of our ideas seemed compatible. We wound up mixing up aspects of a traditional baby shower (games, food, fun) with a blessingway (ritual, connection, intimacy) and split our day into two parts, one with a larger group and one with a very small one. Friends supported us with catering, provided a larger venue, games, photos, thankyou gifts, and planning help. Rose did most of the organising and I filled in gaps and played the support role.
We wound up with a lot of folks sick on the day, and as message after message came in the night before and the morning of, both Rose and I wilted and found it almost impossible to face up to. Underlying anxieties about loss and still birth, fears of being attacked for making too much of a fuss, trying to make sure both Mums were celebrated equally, and fears that the event couldn’t possibly live up to expectations all combined to make both of us want to hide under the bed… we each felt that if we’d have been a solo Mum we’d have called it all off that morning. But for the other, we hung in there. And it was lovely.
Little frogs were the theme of the night. People gave us beads for a necklace each to wear for labour, to bring our tribe and their hopes and blessings along with us. Kids ran around, we had moments of reflection and tears, moments of laughter and silliness, my goddaughter kissed my belly and no one else touched me without permission. We brought three roses to represent the three grandmas we loved who could not be there – one passed and two close to passing. (Rose’s died the next morning) Family sat around the fire and knotted yarn bracelets to connect us until our daughter’s arrival. Star wrote a poem about her own unique relationship to us and little frog. We shared poems and stories. It was beautiful, very touching and safe. Everything we could have wished for. ❤