Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Blessed my Son

It is traditional for little Mormon babies to be given a name and a blessing through a special priesthood blessing usually spoken by the father. Other men may be invited to participate to stand in the circle. Like most priesthood prayers, the participants are exclusively male.

I know of two schools of thought on this. First, some feel that it's nice to let the father have this special time since the mom was most involved in pregnancy and birth. Others feel that since so many milestones are priesthood/father-driven (baptism, any priesthood blessing, priesthood ordination, etc), it would be nice if there was just one thing that is solely feminine: pregnancy, birth, and a child's welcome to the world. I'm of the thought that I would like to participate in some way because McKay and I share our responsibilities: even with birth he has had a pretty active role as baby catcher.

The disparity in my participation felt very poignant to me when Margaret was to be blessed. I wasn't versed in the hot button topics of Mormon feminism at the time- I just was someone who had a tendency to push the envelope. I noticed that our ward at the time often used a deacon to hold the microphone for the blessing. Because I couldn't see any real reason that the microphone holder couldn't be someone else, I asked if I could hold the microphone for Margaret's blessing. I was turned down. I was in shock for the rest of the day. Really? Really? The microphone holder has to have a penis?

Sure, after the blessing, whoever was conducting the meeting asked for me to stand up to be recognized for my "large" role in Margaret's existence. They did that for all the moms as a way to "include" them. I secretly thought it was an underhanded way to poke at the size a woman takes on in pregnancy.

In the two years between Margaret and Isaac's birth, I found Mormon feminism and started reading in the bloggernacle about women with similar experiences and feelings. I found one story of a couple who would write down the things they wanted to bless their child with before the blessing so that the mother could participate in some way. This appealed to me and a week ago, I started mentioning to McKay that I would like to talk about what I would like to bless Isaac with. I told him I'd think about it all week and we could discuss it Saturday before Isaac's blessing.

Last Friday afternoon Margaret took a long nap. Because I don't play with Isaac much, I decided to spend some time playing with him. I even took a video of some cuteness.

Then, without thinking and acting on instinct, I picked him up in my arms and looked into his eyes. His eyes are like mine- a dark blue.

"Isaac Todd Farley, as your mother, I hope so much for you and wish to bless you with so many wonderful blessings. Your Heavenly Parents love you, as do I, and I hope you live so that the Spirit will be with you in your life. It will help you make decisions in your life and comfort you when things are dark. I don't know the turns your life will take, but if you will have the Spirit in your life, those turns will not matter and you'll have the approval of your Heavenly Parents."

Then I stopped and realized what I was doing. Alone in my house, with tears in my eyes, I looked around sheepishly like I had just breached a forbidden line. Suddenly the moment was gone and I looked at Isaac who was smiling at me. I went back to the couch and nursed him and continued with my day.

When Sunday came, we dressed Isaac in his new outfit. He was asleep when McKay took him up to the front of the chapel to bless him. I dutifully copied down the words of the blessing McKay gave him.

I didn't try to participate this time.The shock I had felt the day Margaret was blessed never occurred because I didn't feel left out. Isaac had already received my blessing.


  1. I had a very similar experience when I was alone in the hospital room with Ethan. Thanks for sharing yours. :)

  2. That was so beautiful!

    I'm not an overtly emotional woman and I had to let you know that I'm crying right now.

    Thank you so much for your love and courage!

  3. I have a tear in my eye :')

  4. Awesome!

    For our first daughter, I wrote some notes on a 3x5 card for Tom to take with him up there. And I threatened to stand up and object if he ever tried giving them a different name than what we'd (okay, usually I'd) chosen. (He has often been skeptical about the girls' names, but quickly comes around.)

    Mormon feminism is such a tricky topic. I'm surprised (but not shocked) that they wouldn't let you hold the microphone.

    Seriously. Good (bad) example of something cultural (not doctrinal) that could easily be accommodated.

  5. I used to have some real issues with the priesthood, but I've come to realize that men and women are different and there's nothing wrong with that-in fact that's how it's supposed to be. Our participation may not be as visible as being on the stand giving a blessing but Heavenly Father loves us just as much as his sons.

    One thing that really helped me develop a deeper understanding of motherhood and womanhood and the priesthood was this post by Women in the Scriptures: http://womeninthescriptures.blogspot.com/2008/12/importance-of-birth.html

    I used to think I was a feminist, but I really do believe that Jesus Christ is the best champion of women, not a movement from the 60's that focuses far too heavily on making men and women the same and we are NOT. Jesus wants both men and women to enlarge their separate roles, not fight each other in a misguided effort to be equal. When we enlarge our role instead of fighting over the male role we are much happier and the home is much more harmonious.

    I used to be resentful of baby blessings-where was the mother? But now I think it's beautiful. Women are honored extensively before and after a birth (showers, questions, etc) but men often feel overlooked and they just became parents too! The Latter Day Saint blessing of babies is one of the only rituals geared toward fathers in the western world, what a great blessing for fathers from their loving Heavenly Father!

    Sorry for the long comment, I enjoy your blog and have for awhile, this is just the first time I've felt I actually had something to add to the conversation!

  6. Oh, this made me cry! How beautiful. I'm so glad you got to participate in a way that was meaningful to you and to Isaac.

  7. I love that you spoke a blessing out loud for Isaac. I've never thought to do that. I'm not well-versed in Mormon Feminism but I certainly understand where you are coming from in wanting to be a part of the blessing. One idea I've heard expressed before that really resonates with me and helps me understand men's and women's roles in the church is that women bring the child from the premortal world to this one through birth and men help the child to the next life through the priesthood ordinances. Obviously we both play important roles in both those things but one is primarily the mother's responsibility and the other primarily the father's.

  8. For one working to get his Priesthood and temple blessings back, I can understand your dilemma. I haven't been able to bless my three kids. My first child with my first wife, I did as you did. At home alone. Emma Lynn Potter. She will be 8 in January and since she is in California in an adoptive home, she won't be baptized. And I feel very guilty and sad that I will not be able to do it. But who knows what the future may bring. So kodos to you.

  9. I'm so glad you shared this and I'm glad it felt so right for you.

    You might want to consider submitting this to WAVE as well. It would be nice to do a series on baby blessings on the HOPE blog.

  10. That blessing was beautiful. And I'm glad you wrote it down :) I've blessed my babies, and I remember a time when my mom gave my brother a blessing... What wonderful, spiritual experiences!

    Whether or not I have the Priesthood doesn't really matter to me. It's my personal opinion that the men have, and need, the Priesthood. To uplift them. Women have, and need Motherhood. To humble them. Both are equal in calling, and in power. And both are ordained of God. *B

  11. What a beautiful moment, it made me tear up and get that warm fuzzy feeling.

    I'm so not a feminist. :)

  12. Thanks for all the support everyone! I was nervous when I hit "publish."

    I used to think that "feminism" was something I didn't want to touch with a 10 foot pole, but now I embrace it and take the label "feminist" very willingly. I need it tattooed on my head or something so everyone knows. :)

    Based on personal revelation and my patriarchal blessing, I don't think it's simple "men have the priesthood and women have motherhood." And my ideas about that would take a long post. I think it's kind of insulting to men to say they "need" the priesthood. I look at Isaac and Margaret and I don't think either of them "need" something more than the other to receive exaltation.

    ANYWAY, I digress... Thanks for the comments. They have been very nice (except for anonymous ones McKay has filtered out). Thanks, McKay!

  13. Your above comment struck me as funny: I used to be all "I AM A FEMINIST!" but I just finished a book on the 60's feminist movement and came out with the opposite reaction: I am NOT a feminist. I don't want to be associated with that AT ALL. The most famous feminist were very anti-marriage, anti-children. They dreamed of a day when everyone was sexually "free" to sleep with whomever, whenever with no consequences. They wanted paid labores to raise children as their job, not out of the love of parents. They trashed marriage, breastfeeding, pregnancy, childcare, parenting...all that I have grown to love. Why? Because they never had it. Not a single one of them was ever married or ever had children. Odd no? The bottom line is: Feminism isn't a pro-woman thing, it's an anti-family thing. The reason people stopped breastfeeding, homeschooling, and holding thier kids and started leaving their kids in daycare? That was because of Feminists.

    Anyway I actually came here to post that your blessing is beautiful, and I'm sure God was pleased. I also wanted to say that I doubt the microphone thing is about the fact that you're a girl, and not allowed, but more about the fact that that is a decon's responsibility, and if the decons don't do that, they are left with very little else. It's their job that they have been assigned, and they are the ones that have to do it, for their betterment. Just my thoughts.

  14. KLa- then don't be a 60s feminist. That was 50 years ago. Be a 2010 feminist. :) There has been a lot of pendulum swinging in the realm of feminism over the past 200 years. Eventually we'll get it right.

  15. Perfect!

  16. What a great idea. I love your blessing. I've been in very pro-women religious communities for awhile now as an adult (different tradition than yours), and I'm always surprised when I return home to my parents' church and see the exclusions. I guess I've gotten used to being included in everything, which is a good thing.

  17. Totally not okay in any way doctrinally. Feminist? How boring.

  18. Linda, please explain what was doctrinally incorrect.

    And if you find it boring, read a different blog.

  19. I loved this post. It is just what I have been looking for. My husband is not an active LDS member so my father is going to be giving the blessing. I have felt very strongly that every baby should receive a blessing from their parent. Blessings have been done by many different cultures and not just the LDS culture and I am so glad that we do that. I know my husband should give our baby a blessing and have just not been sure how to do it. I also want to be a part of it. Thank you so much for your example and being willing to share.


Please review my blog comment policy here before commenting. You may not use the name "Anonymous." You must use a Google Account, OpenID, or type in a name in the OpenID option. You can make one up if you need to. Even if your comment is productive and adding to the conversation, I will not publish it if it is anonymous.