After the birth, I joined a mamatoto group, and met dozens of incredible mamas, a large handful of whom would become some of my closest friends. This pregnancy, I was lucky enough to be thrown another beautiful baby shower, and later, my mamatoto friends threw me a Blessing Way! What is the difference? Including my own, I've attended only two Blessing Ways, so I am by no means an expert, but here's what I've noticed: like a shower, a Blessing Way honors the mother and the baby on the way. However, traditional showers seem to focus on the gifts, and Blessing Ways feel more spiritual. The showers I've attended go something like this: guests arrive, eat, play games, and watch the mother-to-be open presents.
The Blessing Ways were like this: each guest brings a dish and a special token to decorate for a secret project for the baby or the mother-to-be (no traditional wrapped gifts). The gathering is generally smaller, and more intimate. Guests pamper the mother-to-be with foot rubs, belly casting, henna, etc. Then, a long strand of string or ribbon is stretched around the group so each guest holds onto a point while they take turns saying a blessing for the mama-to-be, the baby, and the birth. At the end, the ribbon is cut so each guest keeps a piece to wear until the birth or keep in a special spot and wear for the labor. Or, each guest may bring a bead to bless and then string on a necklace for the mama to wear while she is in labor to remember the support she has.
My Blessing Way was magical and amazing, and I was so moved I wanted to cry the entire time, but I was having too much fun to do that. My friend Alicia organized the entire thing. Everyone brought a Moroccan dish (my all-time favorite food!) and a piece of driftwood. I was pampered with foot rubs, shoulder rubs, and braids in my hair. My friends decorated the driftwood with beautiful art and loving words, and then strung it into the most incredible mobile for Lyra. Then everyone held onto a long piece of hot pink elastic and blessed the baby and me. At the end, my friends each put a hand on my huge belly and we took pictures.
Don't get me wrong, the traditional shower is important as well. The Blessing Way works best with a smaller group, and you probably have some family and friends who would rather attend a shower. I think if you can swing it, the way to do it is to have one of each. My Blessing Way was the best party I've ever had, and now that another mama in our group is expecting, I can't wait to throw a Blessing Way for her.