Life is strange. Not that I had to tell any of you that. It’s an obvious truth that just needs to be plainly stated sometimes.
This weekend I honor the shell of a person I was seven years ago, three months out from the wallop of mountainous baby making efforts rendering nothing.
I honor the person – or, more accurately, PEOPLE – I have been through my entire string of lived Mother’s Days knowing I’ll never be a mother. They all matter, they were all trying their best. And they all represent very real arcs of the human experience.
This eternally changed day began for me as pure survival – one breath in, pause, one breath out, pause. Any and every job felt too much on my first Mother’s Day without children, so I told myself that my job was to “just keep breathing”. If I didn’t stop breathing, I’d make it through I reasoned. My missing children were larger than everything else in the world combined.
In the following years, bewilderment over the fact there was still nothing I could or wanted to do on this day set in. I had found myself in a position in life no one ever refers to in a realistic, constructive way, if even at all. All while finding myself in a world that has no room for people like me. Recalibrating oneself under such not asked for conditions just might take a few years anyway.
For years shielding myself from the onslaught was paramount. Even by year four I would not go out in order to avert the purposeless laceration of being wished Happy Mother’s Day at every last twist and turn.
And this all, somehow, has recently stretched into Mother’s Day becoming a day where I tip a hat to my pilgrimage. I find myself now with a measure of direction, groundedness, contentment, and plenty of space to hold my heartache and sadness.
Life IS strange. I noticed throughout the week that I was loosely yet habitually preparing for this day. This day that I once questioned if I could make it through. This day that I once thought I would do absolutely everything in my power to ignore (and yeah, good luck with that). What can I do on this day that will feed my soul? What are some ways I can express kindness and love towards myself?
Since my WTF??? years, many “independent of the outside world” passion projects have sprouted on my grounds of self protection and wound licking. All while acknowledging there is, of course, no viable fill in for what will always be missing.
And this year, a new development: where rage once multiplied, I now am met with mild amusement. The one sided, exclusionary Mother’s Day narrative is as ridiculous as ever, of course. But this year it’s all hitting me like a caricature on crack. In my e-mail inbox. With what like five mentions on the half hour long national evening news EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK. A scene from Good Morning America I think it was, from this year or last year but either way indelible – a bunch of masked and dressed up “moms” sitting at individual outdoor tables on their mom designated city promenade, raising a glass to themselves. Yes folks, we are in the middle of a bonafide mom-a-ton. The narrow and incomplete perspective of it all makes me……chuckle. I know, I know. But tragedy aside, this shit’s kind of amusing.
The absurdity of such hoopla is then entirely amped up by the absence of narratives like mine. So much attention to those who get to have motherhood, but no outward honoring, and precious little hushed honoring too, of those of us who don’t. Of those of us who at one point willfully sucked oxygen into our practically collapsed chests just to get through this day. And those of us who have to wend our way through a world that isn’t cut for us while fashioning a life without the benefits of prescribed pathways, societal visibility and cultural norms. For those of us who nurture ourselves because all too often nobody else will, and still contribute generously to the greater collective.
I know all I was willing to go through for my children before any guarantee they would even exist. I’m well aware of all I’m without in their absence. While I acknowledge and respect their challenges, suffice it to say I’m not all that impressed by the mother with living children side of things. It’s not better or more worthy than my life path, certainly.
I’m not the striving to reclaim type, nor have I ever connected with the idea of claiming myself a mother in some other light. One thing that has worked for me throughout the loss of my children is trying my best to take things as they are, not as I think they should or wish they would be.
I had very much intended to ditch M Day altogether for International Women’s Day, a day that honors the contributions of ALL women. Hey now, THERE’S an idea!! But somehow it seems to be unfolding that Mother’s Day is mine too for the taking. It is mine for merely having survived it. It’s my day because I’ve had the courage to be wherever I was at on Mother’s Day, eight times in a row now. I find myself with an unexpected sacred trajectory around this day that has, eventually, led to me being able to occupy it with some semblance of wholeness.
In a recent phone conversation my Mom thoughtfully asked what childless people tend to do on Mother’s Day…..and then expressed disbelief that she had never asked me before. Affirming that there really is nothing in the outer world for us on this day, I then fumbled through some scenarios before I tied it all together. “You know what? We take care of ourselves. And we take care of each other. That’s what we do.” And that’s already more than enough reason for us to own this day too.
So you don’t have to go poking around in the Infertility Honesty rabbit hole, here are all my Mother’s Day posts in order. Starting from my shell shocked days three months out of fertility treatments in 2014. I hold the unique distinction of blogging non-anonymously from the trenches of the fertility treatment to childless transition. No years long grace period for me before I started putting it out there!
May you find something below that meets you where you are today, dear readers.
SITTING IN IT – May 10, 2014
My Question and FB Post of the Day – May 10, 2015
Mother’s Day Through the Eyes of an Infertility Survivor – May 7, 2016
Read the Flipping Chart, Please – May 14, 2018
WHAT I GIVE – May 12, 2019