Because this is exactly how rumors start, let me clarify. Betsy is not pregnant. She’s not even trying to get pregnant. But she is on the verge of welcoming her first foster child into her home. When I visited with her in January, I lamented the fact that other mothers-to-be get to have big parties and the support of their community. Why should Betsy’s motherhood be treated any differently? Besides, unlike most baby showers, we get to drink at this one without feeling guilty. Just to prove that point, we hosted the shower at a wine bar.
The Black Chicken in Waxhaw graciously allowed us to host the party at their adorable shop. If you are ever in area, check them out! they have a great selection of beer, wine, and the food is highly recommended!
Some background on Betsy Jenkins. She is a social worker but don’t expect Mariah Carey from “Precious” or Cobra Bubbles from “Lilo and Stitch.” (Did she just pull a social work reference from Disney? I did.) Betsy is a mixture of spunky empathy with splashes of dog hair and sparkles from her nose ring. I was immediately drawn to her foul mouth, good taste in beer, and the fact that we shared similar lifestyles during our time at Carolina. When I need a dose of fierce confidence, I reach out to her. When I need a reminder of why we need to make the world a better place (for everyone), I know she can help me find a new cause or a new protest to attend. But, most importantly, she is unapologetically honest. When she thought I was making a mistake by moving to Virginia without having my name on the mortgage, she told me. Some people would be offended – I was grateful. She wasn’t offering her opinion because she thought poorly of Bradly or because she thought I didn’t know well enough how to care for myself. She did it because she wants me to have a stable future. She shared her concerns because she didn’t want to have to offer me a place to stay if things went south (even though she would totally let me crash on her couch). She cared enough to risk my wrath. I can totally appreciate that. I hope she can appreciate that I’m too stubborn to change my mind about some things and my name is still not on the mortgage. (Love ya, Betsy.) All of this is to say that she is a wonderful friend and she will make an amazing foster mother. She has gobs of love to share and there are lots of children with love shaped holes in their lives. I hope she journals about this experience because I see promise of a book in her future. Heck, I’ll ghostwrite it if you give me the details.
Betsy made this amazing book for her foster children to look at when they are first placed with her. It outlines her family and friends and has tons of pictures of both. Such a loving way to show a child just how cared for they are.
Back to the shower! Thank goodness Betsy had the foresight to anticipate that planning a baby shower in another state while simultaneously planning my own wedding might be overwhelming. A local (to Betsy) friend, Alexandria, offered to help with the planning and essentially took over – which is amazing because I had no clue where to start. I later learned that Alexandria also has experience in event planning so I was in safe hands. I tackled the invitations since I am a sucker for anything that requires postage and Alexandria handled the food planning and decorations.
We were able to host the shower at Black Chicken in Waxhaw NC – the charming town that Betsy calls home – since Betsy has sweet connections with the owners. It was the perfect size for an intimate gathering and there is delicious booze covering most of the walls. If you know Betsy, you can appreciate how perfect the setting is.
We added a little delicate charm to the wine shop with a few mason jars and flowers, Alexandria nailed the food with an amazing charcuterie spread, fruits, cheeses, crackers, and mimosas. For something sweet, we ordered from Nothing Bundt Cakes and they were AMAZING! I highly recommend the assortment of bundtini cakes – single serving and declicious!
Given that this is a shower for a foster mother, we had to tweak gift-giving. Betsy requested gently used items, rather from a person’s own family or from a local thrift store. Since Betsy is approved from ages 0-5, with a preference for 0-2, there is a wide range of beautiful little options that may show up on her doorstep. With a box designated for each age group, people were encouraged to bring their gifts unwrapped and place in the appropriate tote for easy storage. It keeps things simple and makes it a breeze for Betsy to organize and store once she gets home. I went to my local thrift store (the Disabled American Veterans thrift store) earlier this week and was able to get some adorable clothing – for infants and toddlers – that was in terrific condition and on average was less than $1.50 a piece. I was able to get Betsy many more articles of clothing than I would have if I had gone to Target or even Wal-Mart. (Mothers-to-be: don’t mock the thrift store finds. The money usually goes to a great cause, your baby is going to wear it for a few months before it no longer fits, and your friends are on a budget.) And kudos to Betsy for giving her guests permission to reuse without shame.
A peak at how Betsy plans to organize her gifts – what a good idea! I also snapped a few pictures of some of the books that she got. If I were a better blogger, there would be more pictures of gifts (and people), but I’m not.
The women and men that came to the shower brought such amazing and thoughtful presents! There were clothes, books, play pads, bathing and eating supplies, lots of cuddly toys and soft blankets, and heartfelt support. Alexandria and I could have hosted the most amazing party but it would have been for nothing without the people that showed up. There were younger and older women present. Some had no experience with motherhood and others were experts. Few of us looked alike and most of us came from different parts of Betsy’s life. It was such an incredible group and I’m comfortable knowing that Betsy has an amazing “village” to support her in this next journey.
At one point, Betsy said “This feels real now.” Up until now, it has been foster parenting classes, home evaluations, and lots of paperwork. Sweet onesies and precious teddy bears make all of the formalities feel more human. There is a sweet child on the other end of all of this. Most of the people reading this were blessed with a biological family that could care for them. There are so many children that don’t have that blessing and are in need of an adult figure that can provide them with the safety, security, and love that all children need. (Don’t we all need that?) I anticipate that Betsy is embarking on a wild journey. I’m sure she will experience tremendous love and tremendous heartache. But she doesn’t experience it alone. I’m already looking forward to being “Aunt Britney” to the children that Betsy welcomes into her life. I am so proud of you, Betsy. And I’m so grateful that you are letting me be part of this wild ride.
If you have gently used items from your own family that you would like to donate to Betsy, please reach out to me! Betsy is a single woman attempting to change the world. Show her the love – I’ll help you figure out how!