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A Mother’s Blessing

We had all had rough days.

Some of us had had rough weeks, some of us were ill or in pain, or had emotional issues troubling us.

When I first realized this, getting ready in our bedroom in the early evening, I — of course — worried. Worried that we would all be too tired to enjoy ourselves. Worried that my dear ones had stressed themselves out, trying to pull together this Blessingway in my honor. Worried that our hearts would be in the right place but our bodies might not cooperate.

I dried my hair, and after I finished, I heard car doors slam shut outside. My girls were here. I didn’t bother with mascara — I knew there would be some sort of tears at some point in the evening; tears of emotion or joy or laughter or overwhelmed gratitude. I threw on the dress I’d worn for maternity pictures, earlier in the week, figuring I might as well get some more use out of it than just that one single occasion, and then I headed out the front door to the front porch.

Already, my ladies had hung a bright tie-dyed sheet of Lauren’s, blocking most of the party space from view. They would allow me behind it, but they wouldn’t let me help with anything, so I decided to park it in a chair outside the curtain and let myself be surprised when they’d finished setting up completely.

I didn’t feel great, I’ll admit it. I’d had an emotional day, more stress than I’d expected, and my hormones ready and rarring to escalate every emotion to its highest level, even when it wasn’t called for. Physically, I had pushed myself a bit farther than I should have. My back was killing me, my carpal tunnel was causing both my hands to ache, and my poor pregnant feet were certainly reacting to doing chores all day and the summer heat. Worst — my Braxton Hicks contractions were really amped up that evening — I was trying to catch up on my hydration, and sit still to let my body rest — but they were intense, and frequent. Not regular, or painful — never quite enough to make me actually worry about actual labor — but close enough that one or two times throughout the evening, I had an inward moment of, if this keeps up, we might turn this Blessingway into a Birthingway. (Luckily, that didn’t end up happening, and at the end of the night, with plenty of water and my feet propped up, everything returned to normal.)

So I sat, and listened as my friends called to each other, working together to transform the porch into a little wonderland for a few hours. Lauren turned on some music and it spilled out into the evening air.

Suddenly, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. Whatever I had been upset about all day, whatever I apprehension I had for the evening’s festivities — it all faded away. The sun was not yet quite beginning to set, but the hour drew nearer. Beyond the porch and the trees of the neighborhood, the sky flared from blue to rose and amber, and the last of the afternoon sunlight cut angles across the porch, shining through that tie-dye sheet. Suddenly, everything felt exactly as it should. I was happy to be there, happy to have my girls there to celebrate with me. Happy to have my husband inside enjoying some dude time, happiest of all to have my daughter kicking and wiggling in my belly as I waited.

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Emoting On: Baby Shower

Sometimes, there’s a day where you get to be treated like royalty.

My bachelorette party (dress up +Mexican food and margaritas and wigs + dance party + yard swimming)  was one of those days.

My wedding day (sleepover + set up in the chilly drizzle + a capella singing in the hide out room + the most beautiful, funny ceremony ever + epic dance party + after party) was another.

And now, my baby shower is a third.

One of the things those three days have in common is they were planned or supported by my special group of women. My Fierce Lady tribe, which yes, can sound super cliche — except it’s so true, so apt. I hope and pray if you’re reading this and you’re a lady of any age, you have this group in your life. If you don’t, I hope and pray you find one. I hope you search them out and cultivate them, in whatever way works best for you. These are my girls who put up with my intense organizational OCD needs, who humor my dramatic sensitive FEELS, and all the novel-length texts that let me EXPRESS MY FEELINGS and maintain some sense of calm. They let me take their picture all their time, and embarrass them with expressions of love, usually in the public eye. Who let me write about them and don’t just appear not to mind (please, tell me, someone, if you mind) but also follow what goes on here and reads.

The girls who let me be me, basically. Sometimes loud, sometimes overemotional, sometimes too analytical me. All the little flaws that make me up — and these are the girls who look past the flaws and just see all the good things about me too, and remind me when I’m having a hard time seeing them myself.

I cannot stop gushing about this group of women and what a beautiful, peaceful, healing little idyll of a party they set up and planned for me — again. My baby shower was one of those days where all of the details seemed — for me, at least — to fall magically into place. The entire party was better than I could have even imagined. When I heard who all was involved planning it, I kinda hoped — but these girls went above and beyond, over the top.

Who was there was a huge part of why it was such a special day. There were people who couldn’t make it, people missing, and I wish they could have been there — but as it was, so many of my favourite people came together. The group was made up of such funny, clever people, there was no way we couldn’t have a good time. Rachel, Alison, Erin, Jeannie and Lauren all worked together to pulled together to create this little magical haven of ladies, it truly felt like a day out of magazine or a book.

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Emi’s Blessingway

FOOD. The scene. Inside the Red Tent. FOOD. Reading words of wisdom. Besties. Sage cleansing. (Jeannie looks so much like Mom here.) The beautiful mother. Sage cleansing. (A little smoky.) Sage cleansing. Sage cleansing. Sage cleansing. Present opening. Beautiful Emi. Painting the belly. Emi painting her own belly. The Fierce Lady Tribe Amazing incredible decadent cupcakes. The gathering.

Your first question is probably what’s a blessingway?

We first read about Blessingways at Birth Without Fear, and then at Tribe de Mama. There were a lot of things we loved about the idea — bringing a group of women together not just to get excited for the new baby but also to love and pamper the mom, fill her with love and support in the last few weeks or days before she gives birth. Our fierce lady tribe, as we call it, is our group of young women who, sure, love to talk about boys and dresses and TV, but also like to talk about self image and spirituality and what it means to be a young woman in a modern culture. This seemed right up our alley, Emi and Trav and their precious babes are so much the heart and soul of our #friendsfamily, and everyone is getting so excited to meet new little SB here in a matter of…days, weeks?

We kept our plan very simple and straight forward; setting up our big pink pavilion tent in the side yard, a la The Red Tent. There was food, of course, because…duh. Mingling, a lot of giggling. We had a brief bit of seriousness — sharing words of wisdom, prayers, and songs of strength to empower Emi. And I just love my ladies so much more, after this, because everyone had something different, yet everyone had something perfect. Each song or poem or quote built on the next, until there were more than a few teary eyes. Then we had a moment of prayer, and then a moment of giggles — and did a sage burning. Sage burning is traditionally seen as a way to clear fear or negative thoughts, and really leave you clean and calm — the perfect state of mind to be in before a birth. (Oh, and a few of us soaked up the extra sage, because who doesn’t like to feel clean and positive and calm?)

Then we had the fun stuff — gift opening! Then — belly painting! Then, eating the massive, delicious cupcakes Kristin brought. (Eating one alone took me about four hours. Too rich, too decadent. I could eat one single bite per hour and then had to just stop and think about my life for a while.) And finally, a group hug, a group picture!

As I said when I shared our group picture earlier, I love that we have a group of women who cares so much about each other. We know how to laugh, we know how to goof off, we love to be silly — but we also really want to build each other up, install confidence, help each other be our best. That’s a very cool thing, I think, and something I hope we keep for many years to come.

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