While in the throes of infertility, I dreaded Mother’s Day. Jared and I usually skipped church and used it as an excuse to binge on junk food, self-pity, and Netflix (before streaming was a thing, we’d head over to Hollywood Video and let ourselves go wild, which meant renting, like, FOUR DVDs in one go).
Based on countless conversations with others experiencing infertility over the years, I know I am not the only one.
I vividly remember the phrase that would enviously run through my mind every year on Mother’s Day: “When you have a child, everyday is Mother’s Day.”
In other words, one day a year, my normally mature, grown-up self would devolve into a tantruming child, internally wailing, “It’s not fair! They get to have children AND a special day to celebrate the fact that they have children!?”
And it really didn’t feel fair. And it really did hurt. Deeply.
This was a dark time, Friends. My Beast loved Mother’s Day, which made it the day I loved to hate.
Never mind that I was (and still am) beyond blessed to have all of my grandmothers and mothers (my mom, stepmom, and mom-in-law) alive and well and only a phone call away. I look back at my Mother’s Day boycotts and shake my head at how lost I was in my envy and entitlement… I made the day about ME when I had every reason to make it about THEM. They still got cards in the mail, but I withdrew from truly celebrating these amazing women, and so many others, because of my own pain. I gave up the whole day to wallow. Infertility hurts and there is a time and place to properly tend to those wounds, but I realize now that Mother’s Day was not the right time to do that.
Thankfully, our society is becoming more sensitive to the woes of infertility. A quick scan of my Facebook feed confirms this as nary a Mother’s Day post is shared without also lovingly acknowledging those who long to be mothers. This is beautiful. I remember a time when this was not the case; infertility was hardly acknowledged on Mother’s Day even just a few years ago.
While I still count myself among the infertile (having never carried any of our 4 babies to term), my arms are no longer empty, thanks to our daughter’s wonderful birthmama who chose us back in 2012. I am a mother… no longer aching, no longer grieving like I once did.
I am a mother. I am a mother with a 3-year-old child.
She is 3. SO VERY THREE.
She is the light of my eyes. The joy of my heart. I see Jesus in her precious face. And that giggle of hers! This child is brilliant, curious, ridiculously gorgeous, hilarious, full of life, and adored to the ends of the earth. She is everything I ever dreamed and more.
Even with the most amazing child in the world… I am tired. I have mama-worries that never seem to end. I struggle to keep up with house and meals and the many things that takes us out of the house, too. About 8 times a day, I think, “How do mamas with MULTIPLE children do it?!” (Seriously… HOW?) Life has thrown a whole lot at us over the years, but motherhood has brought me to the end of myself in ways I never experienced before. I pour myself out, into motherhood. It is hard and wonderful. Sacred and mundane. And something I have learned along the way is this:
Mother’s Day is a MUST.
Our pastor put it so well this morning. He said, “You can mess up a lot of things in this life, but don’t mess up Mother’s Day.” I wanted to shout “AMEN!” But our church is kind of conservative, so I settled for a giddy mock-clap in my pew and a whispered “amen” instead.
We ALL owe it to our mothers (or whoever filled the mother role in your life) to make this day special for them. To do it all the way. To enjoy it as the happy day that it is. Those of us who are mothers, we owe it to ourselves! Please, let’s never apologize for our expectations and celebrations on this day. It is perfectly acceptable to take ONE DAY a year to honor motherhood… the flesh-and-blood-and-sweat-and-tears-and-laughter-and-poop-and-boogers-and-snuggles-and-drama-and-one-million-words-and-decisions-everyday-and-exhaustion-and-dragged-out-bedtimes-and-boo-boos-and (this list could go on forever, and she is only 3)… all of IT that is motherhood.
I know. Some of you reading this are still in the worst of it. Your arms are empty and you don’t know if you will ever hold your child. I have not forgotten you and I have not forgotten that *feeling* that is unique to Mother’s Day. Infertility has left its scars on me, too. My heart truly goes out to you today. I remember…
Yet I am going to ask you to gather the strength and the grace to not withdraw, to not hold back. I boldly ask this of you because, partly due to the struggles of infertility, I have some assurance that you already live in a profound state of strength and grace everyday.
You can do this.
CELEBRATE your mama or one of the many mothers that surround you and love you. Commit yourself to taming The Beast for at least few hours on Mother’s Day. Wallow if you need to, but please don’t draw the darkness in around yourself all day long like I did for 6 Mother’s Days. Even in the midst of your pain and loss, I encourage you to embrace this day. Embrace what makes motherhood good, embrace what makes motherhood something you deeply desire, embrace what you received from your own mother. Make this day yours, AND theirs, in a new way by letting the light back into it. Let that light shine bright, let it wash over you, nourish you, and renew your spirit. My friend, I challenge you to reclaim this glorious celebration.
Happy Mother’s Day to us all!