I never liked showers, never enjoyed dressing up and sitting among dozens of women, eating white cake with white-icing and crudite with ranch dressing, while the bride or the expectant mother unwrapped box after box of ribboned boxes.
I never understood why onesies and kitchen gadgets were the domain of women, and I resented the absence of men among the suffering.
When I think back I can’t recall my own bridal shower, but I do remember the engagement party that we hosted together because it was multi-aged and co-ed, and held outside at the park.
Oh wait, here’s a memory…
I see my dear friend and her mother at a table in a restaurant above the bay.
I had thought that was someone else’s shower, but there is also a box of two elegant champagne glasses on my lap with these simple words on the card:
You bring my son joy.
After her son and I relocated to Vermont, and became parents to our first born–for whom there were several showers–one back at the shore (just women), one at his work (co-ed), one at our neighbor’s (co-ed) and one among our Al-Anon friends after the birth (also co-ed)–I discovered another tradition among women that I had never experienced before, one which was much more practical and soulful.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I was desperate to have one myself–this circle of women gathering to prepare a mother for the journey that lie ahead– labor, delivery, nursing and nurturing.
I set mine a month ahead of my due date, not so that I would look better in the photos (like many do with baby showers) but because I was afraid that I might miss the opportunity if this baby came early. (Both sons did.)
I have a scrapbook of my first and only Blessingway. It is still a touchstone for courage and vulnerability, soul and manifestation. In it, are the words that women wrote to me about the journey, some I know by heart.
My boys are now men, the youngest about to graduate highschool (we hope), and it is the impact of his academic and personal struggles, like those of his older brother’s when he was a teen, which have offered opportunities for our marriage to grow (or sour), ie. putting us through the ringer, forcing us to revisit unfinished pasts, and to determine how we wanted to move forward, which bring to mind this morning the words on the card which I glued onto one of the very last pages of the Blessingway scrapbook long before I knew what they could mean: