It’s that time of year again. Mother’s Day. The worst day of the year if you are not a mother and want to be. I used to dread this day when I was trying to conceive. Now, I’m so thankful to have my son Charlie – it’s very difficult now to imagine life without him – but Mother’s Day is still not high on my list of favorite holidays.
Maybe it’s because I remember the pain of Mother’s Day while childless not by choice. I remember seeing all the families out at brunch, moms my age being given flowers and gifts, and showered with love and affection. For me it wasn’t so much the gifts but what the gifts represented – the family and the life I desperately wanted. I definitely felt as though I was on the outside looking in. I wondered if it would ever happen for me. I felt it was unfair that I had to wait and be patient, and “prove” to some higher power that I was worthy of bringing new life into the world, while for others having children came so naturally. I now have Charlie, and that family and life, but the pain I felt is still very close to my memory. I also have a number of friends who are childless not by choice, and I feel for them., on Mother’s Day and every day.
Maybe it’s because, as a career woman for so long, it is difficult for me to fully get behind what Mother’s Day stands for. Mother’s Day was created by the greeting card industry before women had careers outside the home, and it was the only way they were formally recognized for the work that they do in raising our families. I always thought that it was a complete rip-off that men received stock options, promotional raises, gold watches and oodles of paid time off in recognition of a job well done at their vocations, while women got a cheap card, a cheap box of candy, and one day a year to be celebrated, but they don’t get paid or get the day “off”. Now that so many women have their own careers, and many are working mothers, the driving forces that created Mother’s Day are a bit antiquated.
Or maybe it is because I lost my own mother, quite unexpectedly, in 2013. I lost her just a month after Mother’s Day, and six months before Charlie was born. Literally, my dad called me one evening and said that she had died. No warning, no opportunity to say goodbye or I love you. I had just spoken with her two days before. I was like getting punched in the stomach.
I used to send her flowers on Mother’s Day – except the one year that I was miffed at her for some reason and I didn’t send her anything, not even a cheap card and I don’t think that I called her either. I have no recollection now what I was upset about, but I carry the regret of not acknowledging her on Mother’s Day with me to this day. Apparently my sister didn’t send her anything that year either, and my dad said that my mom was upset and hurt by it.
For her final Mother’s Day I sent her a plant instead of flowers. She had a real green thumb, and I thought she’d appreciate something she could enjoy and care for year-round. She did love that plant for the month that she got to enjoy it. My dad reports that two years later, it is still hearty and blooms beautiful flowers.
During my darkest days of trying to conceive, I never dreamed I would actually become a mother. I remained positive and hopeful through most of my journey with infertility, but some days it was just too hard. Mother’s Day was one of those days.
Now life is different and all-consumed by poop diapers, sippy cups, first words and spontaneous hugs and kisses. Back when I was trying to conceive, I couldn’t wait to have a baby and “cash in” on Mother’s Day – not in gift form, but in feeling like I had the right to finally enjoy what the day was all about. Now that time is here and I find I still don’t enjoy it like I thought I would.
I never dreamed that I would be raising my son without my own mom to share in the experience. While I was pregnant I actually wondered how I would be able to have a baby and raise him without my mom. I think of and miss her every single day. When Charlie does something funny or endearing (which is pretty much all the time), I wish I could call her and tell her. I wish I could send her pictures and videos. I feel guilty that I didn’t give her a grandchild when I was younger, so she could dote on him. I feel that guilt for both my mom and for Charlie, actually. Guilt for my mom that she didn’t get to be a grandmother, and for Charlie that he doesn’t have a maternal grandmother to spoil him. There’s no such thing as too many people to love on your child, and the love of a maternal grandmother is one of the most special things in the world.
Today is just a day, but it is a great opportunity to reach out to your mom and other moms in your life and tell them what they mean to you. Reach out to those who want to be moms and give them a loving hug. You can do this any day, but today is a great one.