Finger paints, Popsicle sticks, dry pasta. Nearly every elementary school child has used these materials to create a homemade gift for mom. During my childhood, that’s what Mother’s Day was to me. Little kids doing cute things for their moms; making the homemade gift, bringing mom breakfast in bed, singing to her at church, and giving her lots of hugs. It was a day full of sweet little gestures, but overall it was a normal day for me. Sure, moms are great, but what’s the big deal? Any woman could be a mom.
Once I turned 18, I started receiving the Mother’s Day gift that was given to all the adult women in our church. This made me a little uncomfortable and I thought it was silly. I was definitely not a mom, so why was I getting a potted flower? Save that for when I was really a mom, no need for that yet. I’d be a mother some day and there would be plenty of time for Mother’s Day gifts then.
After I got married, the Mother’s Day gifts were still unnecessary to me, but at least they were starting to make sense. I was a wife now, one step closer to being a mother. Still no rush to be a mom– I was happy to be a fresh newlywed, with kids a plan for the distant future.
That was always the plan for me. School, marriage, motherhood. Once I was finished having fun as “just the two of us,” I could easily throw the switch and become a mommy. Having a baby is that easy, right?
How naive I was! In my mind, infertility was a rare and extreme problem. I knew nothing about the one in eight or that my dear husband and I would need a small miracle to become parents.
Mother’s Day transformed for me during the course of our years of trying to conceive. The tiny faces singing about how much they loved mom were no longer adorable promises of the future but personal attacks to remind me that I might never be a mom. I dreaded Mother’s Day. I didn’t want to hear others talking about how blessed they were to be chosen to be so and so’s mom. I didn’t want the Mother’s Day gift for being a woman with the capacity of maternal love. I wanted to be a mom! A real mom with kids of my own, not just someone who was basically a mom to someone. Why wasn’t I chosen?
It was too much to handle. Every other day of the year already had its challenges that reminded me my lifelong dream might never happen. I didn’t need the pain of this holiday to be shoved down my throat. And so, I hid. I stayed home, away from the darling children with their sweet songs, away from the women I was so jealous of, and away from that empty gift. My loving husband supported me and hugged me as I cried and wallowed in my sorrow. For years, Mother’s Day was my enemy, a burden I had to face alone in the privacy of my loving bed as I hid under the covers. Broken. Devastated. Scared. Angry. Alone. I felt it all every year on that dreaded spring Sunday.
For most couples facing infertility, this is an accurate description of how Mother’s Day makes them feel. It’s a day full of emotions and not the happy, fulfilled feelings Hallmark markets to. For Dooms Day, I mean, Mother’s Day 2016, what comfort can I possibly give to those who are trying to conceive?
For starters, I give you permission to eat lots and lots of chocolate! Chocolate makes everything a little bit better. No, it won’t fill the gaping void in your heart on this difficult day. I realize nothing will. But it will make it a smidgen more bearable.
Now that you’ve had your sweet fix, what else would I tell you to do? I could say “everything happens for a reason” or “it will work out in God’s time so don’t worry about it” or some other well-meaning advice you’ve heard a million times. I know that is salt in the wounds to you. I know that deep down, you know that childless or not you will find a way to live a happy life. But it’s more than OK to not feel that way every minute of everyday.
It’s OK to hide out on Mother’s Day. But remember that you’re not alone. Curl up with your spouse and hold each other. Reach out to others going through infertility. Online forums became a safe haven for me. The friendships you’ll make there carry over to real life. Meet up with your fellow Trying To Conceive pals and distract yourselves with a fun outing. Try to remember that your friends, both fertile and infertile, want you to be happy. They may not know how hard this day is for you and they certainly are not trying to hurt you. Sometimes that’s easier said than done but try to nonetheless. Not feeling like being anti-social with your buddies? How about journaling? Recording your feelings is not only an excellent way to vent and unload, but it also lets you track your ups and downs. On a less heart wrenching day you’ll be able to look back and have documented proof that you are a strong, amazing person that pushed through the hard times. Because you will get through this day.
Becoming a mother is not easy. And because of this, Mother’s Day is not always easy. The last five Mother’s Day were excruciating for me. But after years of longing and working with medical experts, this Mother’s Day I am a mom. I can promise you that it is worth every tear. And one day you will know that for yourself. I can’t say that everyone’s story will end the way they picture it. Your story might take an unexpected twist and put you in a place you never imagined. But I am confident that the trite expression that “it will all work out” is true; one day you will be able to embrace Mother’s Day again as a pleasant, sweet holiday. Until that glorious day, remember that there are people all around you rooting for you! Best of luck!