Friday, May 10, 2013

The rocky road

I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoy being served my favorite latte along with some sort of purchased baked good while still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and wondering what happened to "sleeping in"(I requested a long time ago that my mother's day breakfast come from Starbucks and not our kitchen). And I always get a kick out of my boy's yearly efforts at putting into writing how much they appreciate the clean laundry, food, shelter and general happiness they receive as members of this household. And, of course, there is sweet Annie who would turn the day into an all-out morning-until-night-snuggle-fest if I would let her (and I probably would if we didn't have to get to church). Then there's Superdad who is always thoughtful and in spite of my efforts to keep the bar low he never fails to make it a lovely day (well, there was that one year early in our marriage when I spent the day doing several loads of laundry... but he never let that happen again).

So, it's not that it isn't a nice day. And it's not that I don't enjoy receiving gifts, treats and a little appreciation as much as the next gal.

I just know that as hard as it is to be a mom, can be even harder to become a mother at all. And that is something that is never far from my mind on Mother's Day.

I've tried to be very open about the fact that all of our children were conceived with the help of various forms of fertility therapy. It wasn't always easy to be so transparent about such a personal endeavor, and certainly when we were first going through our struggles to have a baby it wasn't something I advertised to the world. But one of the reasons I believe Jack is here today is because someone else, a virtual stranger, a friend of a friend, chose to be vocal about her fertility struggles and gently offered me some advice and guidance that I am convinced (because I was there), changed everything.

Once I had made it to the other side and had become an infertility success story, I made every effort to be that person for others. I didn't put a big yard sign out with 'Got Questions?' on it in big letters, but I also didn't shy away from being honest about my story. Sure enough, there would be the occasional phone call, or the acquaintance who pulled me aside at a social gathering, or the friend who would want to know how they could be of help to their friend, or sister, or cousin...Other women quietly struggling, feeling alone and wondering how to cope with the grief that keeps mounting month after month after month.

So, there is that. One reason Mother's Day resonates with me in a way that is both happy and sad.

Little did I know then that there would be more twists and turns in my path of motherhood. New sorrows and new lessons learned. Two precious babies, born too small and gone too soon. Again though, as I emerged from the fog of grief (which took awhile) I made a decision not to hide our family's loss in the hopes that by making our babies known, others with their own angel babies would feel less alone.

So, there is that, too.

But, nowadays, my ambivalence has far less to do with my own rocky road of motherhood than it does with my deep sadness for all of the other rocky roads out there.

Motherhood is not for everyone and some women choose to remain childless. That is a choice to be respected and honored. But there are so many for whom motherhood is something they long for, have strived for and yet for countless reasons, remains beyond their grasp.

It breaks my heart.

Which is all part of why I have always created an atmosphere of low expectations surrounding Mother's Day in my household. I want my family to know that while I appreciate all of their love and thoughtful gestures, they really aren't necessary.

I am the lucky one.


  1. Well said,cousin....and, thank you! My best friend, who is Ainsley and Charlie's godmother, has been struggling for 4 years with unsuccessful fertility treatments. She loves my babies, and they send her cards every year....but it isn't the same, and we know it. We just keep praying and including her in our family as much as we can until God brings her the precious angel meant just for her!

    1. Thanks, Stef. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Four years is a long time... I will be praying that one way or another, her desire to become a mother will be fulfilled.