Welcoming your baby to the world is a big deal. A really, REALLY big deal. And it deserves to be celebrated, right?
But what do you do if you’re not religious, yet find sincere importance in ceremony, celebration and symbolic recognition? And how do you put together a ceremony that perfectly reflects you and your family’s sacred ideals? The options appear to be limited.
Too often in our modern culture we bi-pass the ceremony that our ancestors so treasured. Developmental milestones go by in secret, we hide our birthdays, we don’t ‘officially’ get married, we don’t allow for periods of mourning after a death. And the special days we DO celebrate tend to be steeped in Religious tradition.
So, just how do we create ceremony for the birth of our baby that feels ‘right’? Well, let me introduce you to the idea of the reflection promises.
When our daughter Maple was born we knew we wanted a special moment of recognition in which we could honour her in the presence of our loved ones. The thought of a Christening just didn’t seem right, and the Naming Day option – well, hadn’t she already been named?
So we did nothing. Well, that’s not quite true. We reflected. And nearing Maple’s first birthday we were able to put together a set of reflection promises based on us, on her, on our relationship and who we were, and wanted to be, as parents to her.
This set of promises meant a lot more to us than a set of vows that we wouldn’t even have been able to offer ourselves, but simply respond to with an authoritative ‘I will’.
Our reflection promises offered Maple a verbal contract of unconditional love. They were read to her on her first birthday in the presence of our family and friends, based on our reflection of her first year. And here they are:
Maple, now that we’ve had one year together as Mother, Father and Daughter we’re starting to learn about the kind of parents we wish to be. We will try our best and turn to this letter when we need reminding.
We promise to love you unconditionally and without judgement.
We promise not to treat you as a possession, to always remember that you have come through us and not from us. You chose us to guide you, not keep you.
People talk of being a parent first and a friend second but that is not our style and we hope you will let us be your friends.
We want to learn as much as we can from you, to embrace our differences and understand that you have your unique style.
We will try only to pass to you our pearls of wisdom and never our fears.
We promise not to try and change you and will do our best to let you make your own mistakes. We promise not to decide for you which path you will take, but only help you to discover your own path for yourself.
Maple, named after the strong and beautiful tree, we promise to help you learn the simple and sustainable life, to walk softly on your path with respect for the environment.
It’s very easy to promise that our relationship with each other will only ever teach you of true love in the hope this will help you learn of, and yearn for, soul mates.
We hope we always have the courage to parent from the heart and not from the textbook or the advice of others.
We promise to nurture our spiritual selves as best we can, and continue reflecting on these promises we’ve made to you today, so that we maintain a strong intention in our minds to follow through with them.
Love, Mum and Dad xx