It’s Mother’s Day. And it’s everywhere. On the TV. In the papers. Advertised every which way you look. Even if I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t. And for those of us who are technically mothers, but have never parented, it is an awful reminder of where we should be and what we long for, but aren’t. So how does one deal with this day?
The sun is shining and it looks beautiful out there. I’m trying to figure out what Double A and I are going to do with this day. You see, my entire family on my mom’s side (my parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is getting together at my parents’ house. It’s an annual tradition, and usually a great time that’s the first outdoor event of the year. And while I’d love to see everyone, the thought of being with my family (or anyone for that matter) with Mother’s Day on everyone’s lips makes my insides tighten up. It may not be the focus of all conversations, but there’s no separating why we’re there. If nobody makes mention of it, then there’s a weird hush and sense of pity in the air. If someone does mention it, even with the best of intentions, it’s likely to send me into a downward spiral, ending with lots of tears. Yet, on the other hand, there’s guilt.
We didn’t go last year. It was less than a month after we lost our 4th child, and we were still in that I don’t know how we’re even functioning phase. Instead, Double A’s parents came in for the weekend, and we went to my parents for a quiet brunch, where it was just the six of us. I remember my mind was racing and wandering. So much so, that as I was pulling into our back parking lot, I misjudged the turn and wound up scraping Double A’s car along the gate (something I never do as I pride myself on being a good, albeit aggressive, driver). Cue tears. Lots of tears. And while I was upset that I had scraped the car (and embarrassed to have done so in front of my in-laws), those tears had nothing to do with the car.
Those tears, and the ones that have followed mourn what could have been, what should have been, but what isn’t. They represent hopes and dreams and the realization of fears we never even knew we had. They are magnified as one loss turned to two, which turned to three and then to four. And in some ways, they are a comfort as they are a release of the built up emotions and feelings that we’re sometimes pushed to believe we should keep inside and move on.
The truth is, I long for a Mother’s Day when I have a healthy baby by my side. And while I know it will be wonderful, I also know that the sting I feel now will always be there. That’s something those who haven’t experienced loss don’t understand: nothing will take the place of the baby, or in our case, babies who are not here with us.
All of this still doesn’t help me figure out how to deal with this day (other than to avoid Face.book at all costs). Do we go to my parents because everyone wants to see us and then wind up feeling sad? Or do we not go and feel guilty and bad for “letting them down” (even though I know they totally understand)? Is there a way to “celebrate” the mother’s around me, while not neglecting myself, when I’m so far from a celebratory mood? Or can I truly put this day out of my mind and trade it for just an ordinary beautiful spring Sunday? Suggestions are welcome.
In the meantime, to those who join me in this struggle today (and everyday), I send you the strength to make it through, and the hope that one day, we’ll be able to celebrate this day by not only honoring our babies who are not with us, but doing so with those who are.