A Circle of Two: A Mother’s Baby Blessing

When I was expecting my baby, I posted on the anxieties I felt about his baby blessing. I now want to report back on this experience because it was very special to me. I’ve hesitated posting it for a couple of months because this experience may not resonate with all our readers on either side of the belief spectrum. I’m sharing this personal experience here in hopes that other readers who have anxiety about baby blessings might be able to see how it worked out in my case. This is only meant to show how it worked for me, and not pass judgment on others’ experience.

In addition to my fear of being excluded, I was also concerned about other expectations that are placed on mothers. One of my anxieties was the open house, which at least in Utah is customary after a baby blessing. Because of the size of our families, we decided to hold the blessing in the Relief Society room on a Sunday evening. That way, we could host a small reception in the same room afterwards since our home was too small to fit everyone. Our bishop had agreed to let us do the “home” blessing at the church with just our families and a few close friends present.

Since we weren’t holding the blessing as part of a regular Sacrament Meeting, we decided to have a little program with songs and prayers. I chose two of my favorite primary songs for the opening and closing songs: “I Feel My Savior’s Love” and “I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me,” which focused on the message of the gospel I’d really love for my baby to understand. Because women wouldn’t be in the blessing circle, my husband and I both thought it would be nice to have our mothers say the opening and closing prayers so that they could have the opportunity to say how they felt about their new grandson and ask for any blessings they felt inspired to give him through their prayers.

We also thought it would be nice for me to give some remarks at the blessing. We had originally planned on doing this after the blessing, but our bishop had called and said he was running late, so we decided to have my remarks first. I had just finished nursing our baby, so I was still holding him in my arms. Even though there were only about 30 people present, I hadn’t planned what I would say in advance and was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to mentally construct any coherent words to reflect the love I had for my son.

“I want to say a few things about our baby and some things I hope for him. I feel like I had such a major role in creating his body that he’ll have for this life, so I hope that his body will serve him well in his earthly mission,” I began.

I then looked down at my son and locked eyes with him. “I hope that his eyes will be able to perceive, that they will learn to sort truth from deception and appreciate the nuances in between.” As I focused on my child, I began to feel that I was alone in the room with him, and my nervousness dissipated. “I hope his ears will be blessed with hearing kind and beautiful things. I hope his mouth will speak his truth and messages of the goodness he finds in the world. I hope that his hands will be used to reach and heal others. I hope that his arms will be used to hold and comfort those he loves. I hope his feet will be able to carry the knowledge that he gains to others who are open to what he can give them.” As I said this, I remember feeling so full of light, knowing that our bodies are glorious gifts. I felt full of excitement thinking of all the experiences my son will have in the future.

I then closed in the name of Christ and sat down, feeling so full of love and astonishment at the vision of what my son may be able to do in this lifetime. These words came to me in an overwhelming sense of love and hope. They weren’t perfect, but they came from the moment, and they came from my heart.

The bishop had arrived shortly after I began speaking, so they were able to go right ahead with the Priesthood blessing. Afterwards, while we were having cake and pie, I was approached by several members of my family. My mother-in-law, a feminist in her own right, said she was so moved by what I had shared. My brother, a very traditional Utah County type, said he treasured what I said as a type of beautiful mother’s blessing. My mother, who is also quite traditional, said she loved that I was able to give my son a mother’s blessing as part of his baby blessing. These acknowledgements and approvals both shocked and delighted me.

While I am usually anxious and fearful about doing anything out of the norm in real life, I didn’t feel ashamed at all at what I said, even if I perhaps crossed the line from what mothers usually say on such occasions. It seemed to me that my blessings were totally prompted by the Spirit and what was right in that moment. It wasn’t a political statement. It was just a mother’s blessing.

Even though what I said was so small that some may judge it as insignificant, my participation that night was significant and enlarging for me. I didn’t lay my hands on my son’s head, but instead cradled him in my arms in a small circle of two. I used words of hope for the future instead of commanding God to bless, or my son to receive such blessings. I don’t bring up these contrasts to put one above the other, but to contrast a difference of style, and those stylistic differences suit me. It may not be enough for another mother at another time. But on that night, it was a blessing for me and my baby.

Alisa

Alisa is a professional adult educator and corporate manager who enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

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22 Responses

  1. Keri Brooks says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. mb says:

    Loving and good in every sense of the words. I’m glad for you.

  3. Corktree says:

    What a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing.

    I’ve never really felt at odds with my husband giving the blessings because it’s one of the few ways that he gets to use his relatively new priesthood and I know it means a lot to him. But I never really thought about my absence. This is such a beautiful way to be involved – I’m glad it was such a natural and profound moment for you. And I’m sure the impact will be felt on your son’s life, regardless of it being unofficial. It occurred to me while reading your words, that the simple act of focusing such positive energy and hopeful thought toward your child can have a real and physical effect on them for good, and in that way, you bestowed a gift in a very true sense.

    I’ll have to keep that in mind as I mother. And even though we won’t have enough family present to really warrant a home blessing, I hope I can find a moment to do the same for my new baby.

    Thanks again for letting me in on your experience.

  4. CatherineWO says:

    What a sacred experience, Alisa. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. Your words have touched me deeply this day.

    Also, I agree with what Corktree said:

    “…the simple act of focusing such positive energy and hopeful thought toward your child can have a real and physical effect on them for good, and in that way, you bestowed a gift in a very true sense.”

    I am an old mother with grown children and many grandchildren. I have found what Corktree describes to be true, having experienced this on many occasions, even with adult children and grandchildren.

  5. suzann says:

    Alisa,

    Your experiencing of cradling your baby as you publicly expressed your wishes for him was very powerful. Instead of moaning about female exclusion, you found a positive way to include yourself as well as the grandmothers. Wonderful!

    Suzann

  6. Deja says:

    What a beautiful solution. A powerful solution. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Deborah says:

    Alisa: This is simply beautiful.

  8. ESO says:

    I smell a trend!

    A Mother’s Blessing as public event has never really interested me, but I think they are entirely appropriate. I am so glad you had a good experience.

    I AM a big fan of Home Blessings and I love your out-sourcing to the RS room–the housekeeper in me salutes you.

  9. Sterling Fluharty says:

    Tender and touching.

  10. EM says:

    I really feel that a mother’s blessing should become a part of the baby blessing – in the chapel with everyone in attendance! I so enjoyed your article. Thanks

  11. nat kelly says:

    You brought tears to my eyes. This is beautiful and inspired. I’m so glad you shared it. This is such a complex, highly emotional issue. It’s wonderful to see a resolution that worked out so beautifully for you.

  12. Debra says:

    Dear Alisa;

    thank you for sharing your lovely,lovely experience of blessing your baby. it was profound and I felt it even now, as I was reading your words.

    A mother’s blessing in no way need intrude upon a father’s. I loved how you so clearly described your experience and the style and tone of your very sacred experience, and gave such a clear example of how this can be done.

    Yes, may this be a trend for all of us!

  13. Two of Three says:

    Perfect and meaningful. I am so glad you had the support of your family!

  14. Emily U says:

    This is so lovely. I would love to do something similar when my daughter is born.

  15. kmillecam says:

    I love this whole thing, and I am in tears reading about it 🙂 I am so glad that this worked out the way that it did. I am also constantly amazed at how spiritual matters play out. You were tuned in to that energy, and look what a beautiful experience grew out of it. It can be so binding for everyone, even those who might not welcome the same act done “politically” as you point out. Wonderful!

  16. Amy says:

    My first thought is, I am so glad I don’t live in Utah. An open house??? Along with the baptisms that have to have homemade invitations and amazing receptions afterward, it’s just too much pressure for me. We do not have home blessings or open houses here. You just do the blessing, and that’s it.

    This is just my personal thought, I certainly don’t mean to imply that Utah is somehow bad for doing this or Utahns are wrong, it’s just not my thing.

  17. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Alisa. What a wonderful experience! I’m so glad you were able to do this.

  18. Olive says:

    Utah isn’t the only place that culturally does open houses after the baby blessing. Its the norm for the couple to have their extended family over for dinner after sacrament meeting. (and ya, it is stressful!) It probably stemmed from having relatives travel distances to attend the blessing, and needing a place to chill and eat before they traveled back home.

    I think this was beautiful and I’m so glad it had a happy ending! I was holding my breath waiting for you to describe some horrible comment a family member gave, etc.

    I also don’t think that talking about how hurtful and frustrating it is to be excluded from the baby blessing is ‘moaning’. Its great that she found a way to feel good about it, but for all those who don’t (or can’t), I don’t think they’re just a bunch of whiners. Most of us probably wouldn’t have such a great experience and reaction from our families and Bishops like the one described above. Sometimes there really isn’t much we can DO about it, and that’s why its so important for us to be able to talk about it and share our feelings.

  19. Ann says:

    thank you for sharing this! it has inspired me to do something similar when my children are born. i truly loved this post, and it made my day!

  20. Amy says:

    Very beautiful. Enough said!

  21. Vickie Eastman says:

    I am preparing a paper for the Utah Sunstone Symposium in August on how gender roles affect birth, marriage, and death in LDS culture. May I use your story? It is a fine example of how women change traditions through informal settings so they are more satisfying. Could I just reference you as “Alisa?”

  1. April 5, 2011

    […] have worked through a lot of my bitterness and resentment. I have also seen that there is a lot of flexibility in this ritual. We have blessed our last two babies at home. Though my husband still performs the […]

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