Sunday, April 3, 2011

A New Swap for Spring

Spring is not a particular grief season for our family (Angel Mae was born in winter, with a summer due date), but it is the time when I grieve most for what we would be doing together now. The world wakes from winter, and babies and kids of all ages emerge to play and enjoy the warm sunshine. Our family makes plans and becomes more active. And she is missing it all.

Here in the states, spring brings Mother’s Day—an awkward holiday in our house. Lilly goes away to spend it with her real mother. Brian and I spend it with my mother-in-law. On that day, I play the role of daughter, not mother. Even though Brian buys me cards and pastries, what I really want is to be given a big bouquet of flowers (and breakfast in bed, thank you very much) by my child.

On Mother’s Day I remember other loss mamas, and wonder about the awkwardness in their own homes. The absence of children who should be signing that Mother’s Day card or bringing in breakfast with their siblings… The wondering, where there are no living children, about whether we “count” as mothers…

Carly Marie created a wonderful alternate holiday, International Babylost Mother’s Day (May 1 this year), for us to remember and remind one another that we are mothers—-whether our babies are in our arms or in our hearts. In that same spirit, I'm putting together a craft swap, with a floral theme, for U.S. Mother’s Day (May 8). I am thinking especially of all the mamas out there having their first Mother’s Day without their babies and how to help them feel supported.

Our holiday ornament swap last December was AMAZING, thanks to the dedication of all of you. If you are up for some more crafting this spring, I hope you'll participate in this Remembering Together Bouquet Swap for Mother's Day. Details and deadlines are below.

What are we making?
Any kind of craft with a floral/bouquet theme: a collage of flower images, some knit or needle-felted flowers, a watercolor painting of spring blossoms, a pipe-cleaner bouquet—-whatever inspires you! It can really be any kind of craft as long as it conveys the beauty and meaning of Mother's Day flowers.

Why a “bouquet” theme?
So we make sure that every mama in our swap circle receives her “Mother’s Day flowers”—the customary gift—no matter what else is going on for her.

How does the swap work?
It works “secret swapper” style. To join the swap, sign up by the deadline using the form below. Once I receive all the names, I'll do a random drawing. This will assign you a mama to make a "bouquet" for. Meanwhile, another mama will be assigned to make a craft for you. (In most cases it will not be the same person, as it's a big circle of swappers, not one-on-one trades.) I will email you with the address and email of the mom you are crafting for, along with some of her other preferences for the project that you can use as guidelines or to make the gift more personal. When your craft is done, ship it! And look out for your bouquet in the mail.

What are the deadlines?
Sign up by Sunday, April 10. Ship by Saturday, April 30. I know this is a super-quick turnaround and that it may not work for everyone. However, my goal is for everyone to receive their craft before May 8, if possible. (I will get the random assignments made and emailed out to everyone by April 12.)

How many people can participate?
Unlimited. We had over 100 people in our swap circle last December. Please pass on this website to any loss families who might want to participate—especially new loss mamas who may be facing a difficult first Mother’s Day without their baby/ies.

But I’m not very artsy-crafty...
Me either. But it really is the thought that counts! I will post some ideas for simple crafting projects here, and you can always check your local arts and crafts shop for pre-packaged crafting kits. They usually have some cute projects that are easy to make.

I have more than one loss. Can I receive multiple bouquets?
In our holiday ornament swap, we made ornaments for all the babies. In this swap, we are crafting for mamas--that’s a fine line emotionally, I know--and will do just one “bouquet” per person. You will have an option on the sign-up form to request that your baby/ies name(s) be incorporated into your flowers. If you are a two-mom family, and you would both like to participate, please do! You will each need to complete a separate form. (I realize we're leaving the dads out. If anyone has any genius ideas for a future dad-focused swap, let me know!)

I have a question about what my recipient would like. Can I contact them?
You don’t have to stay secret. You will have their mailing address and their email address and can contact them if you choose. Most likely, though, they will be happy with and touched by whatever you choose to make for them.

How much does participating cost?

It costs whatever you choose to spend on supplies, plus the cost of shipping the ornament to its recipient. (As the organizer, I don’t make anything from this project.)

Where do I send the craft when it is done?
Mail it directly to the contact information provided in the email that I will send you.

What if the mom I'm crafting for lives overseas?
In our last swap we had ornaments being shipped all around the globe—which was completely amazing, but also a bit complicated, especially with shipping and delays. This time, if we attract an international group of swappers again, my intention is to fuss with the “random drawing” a bit and assign people to one another within the same country or continent. This should reduce shipping hassles, and reduce the pressure to finish your craft early.

If anyone really wants an international assignment, let me know in the form below, and I’ll figure it out!

Am I guaranteed to receive a bouquet?
I wish I could say yes. I am 95% sure you will. We were pretty close to this mark in our December swap. Unfortunately there is no accounting for weather delays, family emergencies, things getting lost in the mail, or best intentions gone awry.

What if I sign up, and then can’t complete my craft on time or at all?
Please let me know as soon as possible, and I will try to find someone to cover for you. (However I can’t guarantee this.)

What should I do when I receive my bouquet?

Leave a comment on this site to thank your crafter! Also, if you'd like to, you can take a picture and email it to me. I'll collect the photos and post them here, so we can all share the beauty.

It sounds like I have to send you my private contact information. Is that safe?
I promise I absolutely will not distribute your contact information to anyone other than the person assigned to make your bouquet. I promise I will not sell your contact information to any business or individual. Your contact information will be deleted from my personal files by May 31, 2011.

If you prefer not to give out your information over the interwebs, just email me at roseyjenni at gmail dot com. At that point, I’ll give you my phone number, and you can give me your info over the phone.

What were those deadlines again?
Sign up by end of day Sunday, April 10. Ship by Saturday, April 30, to arrive before Mother’s Day Sunday. Email me, or leave comments here, if you have problems with the form or have any questions at all. I hope you can join me!

This swap is now closed. Thanks for signing up!


  1. Lovely idea, Jenni. I think I will join up again, just have to dust off my creative hat, which I haven't put on since the holiday swap! Just a little note though, given it is autumn/fall here in the southern hemisphere and not spring, maybe that can be taken in to regard for us mums below the equator? Seeing some beautiful autumn/fall colours would be lovely for us as that's what I associate with mother's day down here. Just a thought though. If I get a mama in the northern hemisphere, I will certainly aim to get as much "spring" in to my piece as I can.

  2. oh sally, that is such a good point! i hope that any southern hemisphere moms will note this when they complete the form and tell us what colors would be most seasonal and meaningful. xo

  3. This is awesome & amazing all at the same time. What a wonderful idea!

  4. Joined again. Thanks for hosting such a meaningful swap, Jenni. :)