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Posts Tagged ‘milestones’

The view from Grass Point State Park.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

The view from Grass Point State Park. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

My baby recently hit a big milestone – she’s technically no longer a baby!  She’s a toddler.  Yes, not only did she turn one, but she started to walk!  Crawling is still her modus operandi,  but she grows more competent walking (and even running a little) each day.  Furthermore, she has said a few simple words, is babbling incoherently, gesturing, using some simple sign language, and cutting teeth.  It’s adorable, remarkable, and bitter-sweet.  Like cherry blossoms, babies don’t remain so forever, and we must enjoy that innocent, transformative state as it swiftly passes by.  My first year as a mother has been so magical and yet so hectic at the same time.  With that in mind, we decided to forgo a big party.  Bee has been experiencing stranger anxiety a lot anyway, and I don’t believe in adding extra stress to her or myself.  It was her birthday and I wanted her to enjoy it as much as possible, even if she won’t remember it.

We decided to invite our most intimate family members and enjoy a picnic along the beautiful St. Lawrence River.  I wanted to bring everyone to Grass Point Park, a lovely NY State park between Clayton and Alexandria Bay.  It has a little sandy beach, plenty of picnic tables, and many trees providing much needed shade for sensitive baby skin.  No need for extra decorations or party games.  Don’t misunderstand me – I adore a party.  If it has a theme or involves costumes, it’s even better!  There will be plenty of time for whimsy and creativity, but this year has taken so much out of me.  Bee’s first birthday theme was family time outdoors and the Three Realms.  We played and ate in the shade of sacred trees.  We rejoiced in the gift of sunlight from the sky.  We waded in the river’s cooling waters.  In the few moments that I was able to sit in silence and watch my family enjoy themselves (Bee absolutely loves being outside and playing in water), I allowed myself to take in the surroundings and revel in the peace.  It was perfect.

And yes – there was even a little cake smashing.

Bee - 1 Year Old.  Photo by Weretoad, 2014

A one-year-old Bee triumphantly crawls off into the future. Photo by Weretoad, 2014

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My baby shower was on Saturday, and what a lovely celebration it was!  As I’m easier to fatigue lately, I decided I only wanted one big shower rather than having to travel elsewhere for other smaller ones.  I’m glad I listened to my instincts about this well in advance.  After my grandfather’s funeral the weekend before, I’ve been feeling really exhausted.  I don’t see myself traveling very far from home until after the baby is born and I’ve recuperated.  The amount of people who came in from out of town was very moving, as was the effort and generosity of everyone involved.  I received some truly wonderful gifts for the baby – clothing, bottles, cloth diapers, toys, books, play pens, toiletries, etc…  Weretoad and I (the shower was coed) also received a few things for ourselves to make the transition more comfortable such as a handmade lavender candle, handmade nipple cream, herbal supplements, a baby food cookbook, and some beer (the later as more of a gag given that hubby hardly drinks).  Some gifts were especially suited to our Irish hearth culture and love of our Irish heritage.  A friend from Northern Rivers made the baby a tummy time quilt with lovely green fabric featuring swirls, knots, and shamrocks.  Friends from Muin Mound sent us a copy of Guess How Much I Love You in Irish!  My sister and brother-in-law decorated a onesie with a lovely blue and green triquetra.

I called on some friends of mine, including my protogrove sisters, to help organize a mother blessing as part of the shower.  It was really important to me to acknowledge my passage into a new role as well as the coming birth of our little one.  The importance of honoring life’s transitions became crystal clear to me last year when the ladies of Muin Mound welcomed one of our younger members into the fold of womanhood after her first menstruation.  It was a simple rite, but powerful. My own first menstruation was marked with embarrassment due to the timing and the way some family members treated me for it.  My mother did her best to help me feel comfortable and reassured, which was wonderful of her, but it was difficult to feel the transformation was a good thing at the time due to how others were treating me.  I hope my own daughter doesn’t have to feel that way.  A mother blessing for me was very reassuring.  Just as menstruation, birth is to be a messy and painful process – only more so!  This time, I wanted the support and encouragement from fellow women in an environment that celebrated the change rather than tease and act uncomfortable.

My mother blessing necklace made from beads as diverse as my family and friends! I plan to bring it to my labor to give me strength and reassurance. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

My friends delivered wonderfully!  The rite, as requested, was simple and non-denominational so as to not make any non Pagan friends and family uncomfortable.  Guests were invited to bring a bead for a necklace to be made and to share their wishes and wisdom.  Everyone had lovely things to say, even those who are not yet mothers.  I originally thought the men would go off and do something else, but they stayed for the blessing as well.  Some even participated, sharing words of advice for Weretoad.  When it was my mother’s turn, I couldn’t help but tear up.  She had brought a tiny bracelet I made when I was little.  The fact that she saved this all these years brought up so much emotion.  As my baby grows, I’ve come to realize just how much my own parents love me.  It’s an irrational love that is unconditional and very deep.  My mother’s having saved that tiny bracelet reminded me of that love, and I hope she knows how much I love her back.  I hope my own daughter can understand that love one day.  It was never so clear until I became pregnant.

Gifts to remind me of the support and strength I have. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Later, after the new necklace had been assembled, my friends leading the blessing read a prayer/guided meditation to remind me that I come from a long line of mothers and that my labor will be my own.  They placed a crown of flowers upon my head, a candle blessed with everyone’s energy at my feet, bright orange flowers in my lap, and the necklace of love and wisdom around my neck.  It was very moving and I felt so touched and reassured by it all.  Motherhood is an important milestone in my life.  I’m so grateful that so many came to help me celebrate it and my little baby.

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