I will get to the point, but let me start in a roundabout way. I hate winter weather. I am not one of those people who “needs four seasons.” To be perfectly honest, I do not understand those people. The fact that you need so much gear to live in a climate that has winter weather tells me that human beings were not naturally meant to inhabit such places. You can live easily in a hot sunny place where it rains without needing much. This is where people belong. I could easily live all of my days on an island with sun and a beach (and FYI people in the Pacific Northwest, if the ocean is below 65 degrees Farenheit, it isn’t a beach, it is a coast in my view). I have felt the instinctive need to keep moving South and to stay on the coast. Although my current address is in a coastal state, I still live too far from the beach for my liking. I want to live somewhere I can swim every day, in other words.
Sadly, our winter lately has looked too much like this:
The only redeeming part about this winter is that the terrible weather has coincided with my return to work so terrible weather means that the university has declared a ridiculous number of adverse weather days that have given me more guilt free days to spend at home with my babies, which I will gladly take. That is another bonus of living somewhere winter isn’t usually expected to have so much fury – adverse weather days. Let me tell you how many of those I got when I lived in New York – exactly zero.
In the LDS church, the baby blessing is somewhat of a rite of passage, although its exact purpose and value in the faith is somewhat questionable. In spite of being carried out by priesthood members, it isn’t a strict “priesthood ordinance” meaning that it doesn’t have any sort of redeeming value in an eternal context. People that die without being “blessed” don’t need it as an ordinance like baptism or the endowment for any sort of saving purpose in the next life. To be perfectly honest, I really have always doubted the purpose of a baby blessing except it being a way for parents to show off their new offspring and have a public way to voice their desires for that child.
As a result of this, I have to admit when I finally had the boys, I was doubtful that I wanted to have any sort of public blessing. It is sort of gut wrenching for the kind of person that I am to know that because of my sex, I couldn’t be a part of a blessing for my babies. I also don’t understand how it is that I can plead with God through my own personal prayers on their behalf but I cannot do the same in a blessing. If the effect of a “mother’s prayer” is just the same as a father’s priesthood blessing, then why can’t I bless my babies the same way? After all David can pray for them the same way I can. I don’t find myself comfortable with these arbitrary distinctions the older I get. Furthermore, before the experience of bearing kids, I had no idea that from the moment they came into this world I would feel very specific intuition and guidance about who these little babies are and what they can become. I felt it from the moment they were placed in my arms and we were contemplating names for them. It made me a little sad to think that as their mother, I felt like carrying them inside of me and birthing them led me to know them in a unique and specific way, I couldn’t be a part of blessing them.
When I took Desmond to the hospital after his surgery, we spent the first night in this horrible unit where we had no walls and it was impossible to sleep. Behind the curtain next to us was another little girl, her ailment not known to me. During the course of the evening, more women joined her mother on that side of the curtain and started singing religious hymns. Then, they started praying together. They were speaking French, but I think it was French Creole. From what I could make out, they were blessing this little girl. The blessing got louder and more animated. Soon they were all speaking at once and practically yelling. I cannot confirm what religion they were, because I didn’t ask, but I speculated, based on language and accent that perhaps they were voodoo priestesses? What religion they were didn’t matter, what was significant to me is that I was touched these women could express together to the heavens their wishes for this little girl’s health. It made me feel sad that in my own religious tradition, I could not do the same for my boys.
Against the backdrop of these doubts, David and I decided to have a blessing. In the end, I was the one that asked David to do it when he felt apathetic about it. I still don’t know why I wanted the blessings so much, except maybe I just didn’t want my boys to feel like they missed anything when they got older because their mom has too many questions. Whatever the reasons, we scheduled the blessing for a Sunday when we could have friends and family in town. The Sunday came and late in the morning we received an email from the bishop that because of the weather, church was being cancelled that day. I fumed, because it wasn’t snowing, only raining, and it wasn’t icing as they had speculated. After a couple of years with some “personnel” problems, shall we say, at church, I felt like once again, my family was less important than everyone else. I changed out of the Spanx and fancy dress that I had planned to wear that day and threw on an easy jersey dress instead, opting to go barefoot and exposing my unshaven legs. And then, we ended up blessing the babies at home. After the whole highstrung affair, with all of my doubts and questions, it felt as right as the baby blessings could possibly feel. I thought back to my own baptism and how it happened in our backyard pool instead of the church baptismal font. I have always been a bit unorthodox with these things, I guess. I have always been more comfortable outside of the spectacle of the formal, hierarchical, standard way we Mormons go about doing things. It is better to share an experience that I don’t entirely understand with just the people I love and with whom I can be myself instead of a ward congregation that includes some people who hate you and probably wouldn’t wish the best for your babies. The day felt more complete in its more less formal state. It gave me a moment just to be thankful for the boys and the fact that I got to be their mother and that I was able to share that with people I love.
But yes, do I wish that I lived in a place that didn’t have the possibility of a weather forecast of freezing rain to send people scrambling? That goes without saying, even if, in this instance, the weather ultimately guided us where we needed to go.