Happy Mothers Day! It’s a lovely holiday, isn’t it? We celebrate the people who gave us life, who cleaned and fed and nurtured us, who supported and loved us. We send flowers and go to brunch and give hugs.
My mom is wise, patient and one of the kindest people I know. She reinvents herself every few years, fearlessly getting a new degree or switching careers, hiking into the mountains of Honduras to provide nursing care in small villages, and planting gardens in South Africa. She does it all with little fanfare, and when she describes her experiences, she spends much of her time extolling the kindness and humility of other people on her journeys.
I’m also lucky enough to have been surrounded by loving, supportive grandmothers and aunts, the type of people who want to feed you all the time, attend your childhood recitals, and also let you run wild outside but make sure you’re coated in sunblock or bug spray. In the last year, I’ve watched my sister become a mom, and the ease with which she stepped into the role has amazed me. She’s shaping a funny, stubborn and brilliant child (like mother, like daughter).
But for many other people, the day is a painful reminder of loss. For the children whose parent has passed, the day haunts them with the memories of someone who is not around to celebrate. And for infertile women, like me, the day is a reminder of what you don’t have. In years past, Mothers Day meant I felt the grief of infertility a little deeper, where I reflected on how badly I wanted to be a mom but knew that biology wasn’t cooperating.
This year is different, though. Because I have a tiny life developing in my belly. It is a relief and a joy. But the trick of infertility is that even after you go through medical treatments and succeed in conceiving, you don’t quite believe it will happen for you. Every passing week, as my stomach grows a bit and my pants get a little tighter, I think, This is real. Yet I can’t quite see that endpoint where I’ve got a baby in my arms. Reality and medical science tell me there’s no denying that resolution. Next year I might finally feel like I can revel in the flowers-cards-chocolates-Hallmark-ness of the day. Today I am optimistic and calm and trying to settle into my new reality.
To the mothers in my life, I say: Thank you! I celebrate you!
And to those that are struggling with grief and heartache today, I say: Today is one day of many. You are strong, and you will find a way through this.
Happy Mothers Day, no matter where you are in your life.