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Showered Out

© NICKY LINZEY | Dreamstime.com

I took a blue bead and a clear crystal one from the small wooden box and passed it to the woman on my left.

The box continued around the circle of 10 women until we each held two. Then a young woman asked us to close our eyes and make a silent wish for our friend Heather, who was just 10 days away from her due date with twins.

After a minute or so, the box was passed around again, and we returned our beads. Then Heather’s young friend starting stringing the beads together so Heather could wear them as a necklace, hold them as prayer or worry beads, or just plain pack them in her bag for the hospital. Most importantly, she could carry all our good wishes with her as she prepared for the births of her twins.

“Baby shower” usually conjures images of two or more generations of women passing around tiny new baby outfits, sharing punch and playing silly games with baby bottles. They are a terrific tradition and I loved mine. But sometimes moms-to-be of second or third children feel awkward getting showered with gifts when they already have lots of little clothes, rattles, musical stuffed animals, a stroller and extra sippy cups.

Some alternatives are cropping up to allow parents to celebrate in different ways. Annette Fransecotti of Liverpool said she likes the food shower. Friends of the expectant mom take her to a make-your-own-meals place and make dinners for the soon-to-be sleep-deprived parents. Then with a stocked freezer, the new parents don’t have to worry about fixing every meal. It is a gift of food without the lasagna dish to return.

Heather Scanlon, who lives in Syracuse with her husband Chris, 5-year-old son Jude, and now twin boy and girl infants, said she didn’t need much for her second and third babies. A few friends and I decided to get them diapers, lots of diapers, for a baby, er, babies gift. But what about a shower? Then we received an invitation to a “blessings ceremony,” sometimes called “a mother blessing,” where Heather’s friends would gather to pamper her with good food and shower her with good wishes—and no presents—before she became a mom of three.

Her disparate friends gathered one Sunday afternoon with food for a potluck lunch and no children or spouses or men-friends. We laughed and we cried as woman after woman shared a story about childbirth or motherhood, a prayer or even a tune on a violin. Heather assured us she felt comforted, loved, blessed and happy to have time with her friends and the reminder that so many people care for her and her babies-on-the-way.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Heather, 36. “What I needed was emotional and spiritual support more than the stuff. It was just beautiful.”

Her youngest friend, who is not yet a mother, presented her with the beads carrying all our good wishes. Then the kids and a few husbands arrived, and we returned to the usual pandemonium, but refreshed with our reminders of the beauty of motherhood.

“To have all the women that I love and care about in this room was just the most powerful thing,” Heather said, looking back on that pre-twins day.

Another twist on the traditional all-women shower is including the dad and all the dads. Dina Pollitts McCarthy, of Phoenix, recently attended a couples’ shower. The experienced dads were supposed to give sage advice to the soon-to-be dad, she notes.

“It was nice because it recognized that both the mom and the dad were going to have the baby, not just the mother,” she says. “It also shows that they will share the joys and the responsibilities.”

All in all, she liked it, and found it a celebration of family, which is, after all, what it’s all about.

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© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York