Mother’s Day is tomorrow. A time for celebration. For gratitude. For thanksgiving.
And for some of us . . . a time for tears.
Every year when May rolled around, my husband knew the roller coaster ride was about to take off. Again. It took him a few years to get used to my emotions going haywire when the sweet and touching television commercials would air, because he didn’t understand. How could he?
He had his own children.
I’m sorry but someone who has their own children has no idea how it feels to not have them, to be unable to conceive, to be infertile.
By the time I’d met Marlon I’d been through the infertility circus (with my first husband), had two surgeries, and had come to accept that I would never be able to give birth to my own baby. At 34 I had built a life without children and was happy, for the most part. (I’ve written about my infertility here.)
However, there were times when the vulnerability rose to the surface again. Mother’s Day being one of those times, when the pain of losing something – or someone – you’d never known and never would know was nearly too much to bear.
Our situation was a little different in that we were raising Marlon’s three boys. I was their stepmother. For a number of years, he couldn’t understand why that wasn’t enough for me. I’m not sure he ever totally understood but he did come to accept how I felt, without making me feel wrong for having those feelings.
I’ve come to learn that everyone’s story is different, as are everyone’s feelings. Trying to make someone wrong because they feel a certain way is just silly because we have no idea, no insight, as to what they’ve experienced, what road they’ve traveled.
Around Mother’s Day, when those pangs of grief bubble to the surface, I often think of other women who can’t have children and how they are feeling. Maybe it doesn’t bother them as much as it does me. Maybe they have come to accept things the way they are. Or maybe not.
Life may not give us the child we pray for in the way we imagine, but there are still ways to be a mother.
There are more options now than when I was young – IVF, surrogacy, adoption of children from all over the world. Or perhaps you’re Mommy to a furbaby. Or you’re raising a niece or nephew. Or, like me, you’re a stepmother.
I was lucky. You never know what Life holds for you. While stepchildren were not my fantasy ideal, no matter how hard I tried to make them so, they were and are my family. Yes, I was blessed to feel the love for and from a child. But no, it’s not the same as having your own. However, if I had had my own children, I doubt I would’ve so readily accepted Marlon’s boys. And then in that case, would I have taken care of my grandson for a year and a half and forged such an unbreakable bond? I can’t say. I do know I am fortunate, even though many times when the boys were young – many, many times – I wanted to wake up in someone else’s life other than my own.
Now that I’m older and have experienced not only the loss of my having my own child but also the loss of my husband, I can honestly say that experiencing infertility is experiencing grief. Through and through. Everything you go thru, all the pain you feel, is grieving for that unborn child you will never know. It’s a pain that cuts so deep at times you think you can’t take another breath.
But you do. You find a way to continue on, put one foot in front of the other, hopefully with joy at some point.
I wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day, but I also am thinking of those of us who don’t quite fit that label. The stepmothers. The furbaby mothers. Adoptive mothers and foster mothers. Those mothers who have lost their child. Those children who have lost their mother. And also, the one-day-soon-I-will-be-a mother. I wish all of you joy, and peace, and – most importantly – acceptance of what you have in your life right now.
You’re welcome to download this printable for yourself or a friend who might enjoy it. It’s approximately 8 x 10″. The butterfly is one of my doodles.
Happy Mother’s Day,