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.