Posted in (Actual) Empty Nest, New Mother

Women’s Work

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:

Posted in Wisdom of Youth

Baby Blue

I’ll never find anything here,” I mumble to myself as I pull up to the curb across from the second-hand store.   I’ve ridiculously waited till a few hours before my blessingway (a spiritual kind of baby shower) to shop for that special something.

I knew what I wanted:  a dress, in the same shade of blue that kept shining in my mind’s eye this last trimester.

It was strange to be so infatuated with this particular color– given that I was having a girl.  Medically speaking, I didn’t know this for sure, but everyone thought so. Her name would be “Lila”, after my grandmother.

Don’t say that Mom! “ my four-year old chided from the back seat.  I had forgotten he was there.  “You’ll never “manifest” what you want like that!” he offers in rebuke of my pessimism about finding a dress.

I had been listening to the Wayne Dwyer’s “Manifest Your Destiny” in the car during the last weeks of my pregnancy, and my son (the original “Lila”)  had apparently taken it all in from the backseat.

You’re right, Lloyd,” I say, attempting to match his optimism as we cross the street and enter “Twice Blessed,” the used clothing store. I feel more bouyant as I began working my way through the racks.   After twenty minutes of searching, however, it’s pretty clear that I’ll be leaving empty handed.

Time to head home,” I call to Lloyd, who was doing his own searching on my behalf.

Wait Mom!  I found something,” he says, and I turn with the tiniest bit of hope in his direction, only to see him holding a bold, tie-dyed tank top.

I don’t think that’s my style honey,” I say, too discouraged to be more careful of his feelings.

Please Mom, try it on!” he presses.   Lloyd had recently grown obsessed with tie-dyed clothing so I force myself to indulge his enthusiasm.  “Now you can wear tie-dye like me,” he says.  “I’ll even buy it with my own money.”

I force a smile as we get in line at the register, while inwardly I scold myself for making this hasty attempt at finding an outfit for such an important occasion.  I don’t know what had gotten into me.   I just kept seeing myself wearing this pale blue color that had become an obsession.   It was the same blue of my grandmother’s ring that I had taken to wearing.

Voices interrupt my thoughts as Lloyd counts out two dollars and fifty cents from his purse.  “Can we see that?” ask two women in front of us, pointing to a collection of outfits on the wall above the check out counter.  I always forgot to look there.

My eyes follow the clerk as she lifts the pole to hook the item they had spotted:  a gorgeous pale blue dress.  My heart stops as “my” dress passes in front of me and into another’s arms.

That was the dress,” I gasp to Lloyd, as the women make their way toward the fitting rooms.   I feel sick to my stomach.  The dress that I had imagined actually existed, here, at the used clothing store, and I had missed it.

Sorry Mom,” Lloyd says, squeezing my hand, and feeling less excited himself as he hands me my new tie-dyed top.

I linger a moment longer near the counter, hoping the dress won’t fit either of these women, and then I drag my feet toward the door as they get in line to purchase it.

As I placed my hand on the door, their voices once again caught my attention.    “Look, there’s a stain on this,” one says to other.

I turn in slow motion, and watch in utter relief as they hand the dress back to the clerk and head out the door past me.

In one dramatic sweep, I return to the counter and within moments, this beautiful godsend in my hands.  I quickly examine it for its miraculous stain and find a relatively small one at the back of the dress, near the hemline.

I tremble as Lloyd and I move toward the fitting room.  Although this dress was everything I could want–blue billowy cotton; simple, yet elegant, with subtle beadwork on the bodice—what were the chances it would fit me?

At five foot two and shapely, I was a hard fit when I wasn’t nine months pregnant; and this wasn’t even a maternity dress.  What was I thinking!

I could hardly breath as I lifted the dress over my head.  Lloyd smiled at my flushed face as I stepped inside and then bent down so that he could zip me up.

It fits!” he said. And it did. Perfectly!  See Mom, I told you that you could manifest what you want!” said my four-year guru about the blessing of this dress.

Two weeks later I gave birth to a baby boy with eyes the same shade of blue.