A few weeks ago, I had the honor of playing at the birthday party of an adorable little girl who was turning one. I always love the chance to bring Meadowlark Music Circle to a birthday. It’s a fun and interesting challenge to bring music to a whole lot of people who are not expecting it. But more than that, I just love getting to hold space with the family who is celebrating. A birthday is a very special moment to get a glimpse into a family’s life together.
At this particular birthday, it was clear how much care and thought had gone into every aspect of the event. The little girl’s Mama had thought of everything. There was a sparkling gold tower of cupcakes, artfully arranged. Hand made party favors stood in neat rows on a colorful table– each child would go home with a little pot of soil, and seed imbued paper cut into the shape of an animal for them to plant and watch grow.
But even more moving than the beautiful, handmade event this mama had created was something she shared with me in passing. I thought it was so lovely that I asked her if I could share it with you here, and she said yes.
I can’t remember her exact words, but this was the gist.
She described a little love ritual that she does for her daughter, and explains that she does it weekly, always on the exact same day and time.
“Each week, I think about her on the day she was born, at the exact time. I set the alarm on my phone to go off at that moment, so I won’t ever forget it.”
“I just take that moment to think about her, and I let myself feel how precious she is to me.”
“It’s just a few minutes each week, but it helps me stay connected to her in a deep and special way.”
Beholding this mama as she shared this, I could honestly imagine this as a ritual that might continue for ever. Even after her daughter went to elementary school. High school. College.
I also want to mention that the mama who shared this with me works outside the home. And now that I’ve gone back to work myself, which means spending more time away from my own two children, this ritual spoke especially strongly to me.
Parenting can be so challenging. Amidst the difficulties, scuffles, and opposing needs we encounter every day, it can be easy to lose touch with what a ritual like this puts us in touch with — our simple joy in our children.
Our sense of their belonging to something so much larger than our own individual family – whatever magic it was that brought them to us. That allowed them to enter the world through us.
That brought them here as the unique individuals they are.
Mine, and not mine.
I love this Mama’s love ritual because it offers a practical, tangible way to keep us in touch with that first moment– the moment of birth.
Because whatever our birth was like, for many of us, that moment is as in touch as we will ever be with our child’s incredible, sovereign nature.
Our children… Uniquely individual, beautiful, perfectly, wholly and utterly themselves. Despite all our meddling! 😉
I think I might take up this ritual too.
And when I take it up, I think I’ll add the following…
“Dear Great Spirit, please help me care for your precious child this week.
Teach me how to honor and guide her.
For as great as my love is for her, your love is even greater.
Help me feel that, and find that. And when I lose the thread, help me remember.”
And after I say all that, I’m sure I’ll start humming a song to myself… Because there’s a wonderful song by Sweet Honey in the Rock that is about exactly this.
I’m going to sing it for you here, with gratitude to the great Ysaye Barnwell for setting these thoughts to music.
And if you enjoy this song, I want to let you know that we’ll be singing this one, and many others like it, in Mothersong Chorus, my intergenerational women’s singing group, which is open to women and girls 8 and up. (Babies also welcome!)
Or, bring your little ones to Meadowlark Music Class. A space for child honoring, being in community, and MUSIC!