For a long time, Mother’s Day was a day of sadness for me, and I know it still is for many women, for many reasons. I have friends who have lost their moms and who have moms who perhaps were not the best moms that they could have been, which stirs up strong emotions. I have friends who have lost children, who see this day as a sad reminder of those who are no longer with us. I was among the many women who longed to be a mom, but had not that dream come true. For ten years of marriage I tried to avoid church on Mother’s Day. If I couldn’t, I’d make a trip to the washroom just before the end of service and hang out with tears in my eyes in order to avoid the handing out of roses or other gifts to all the moms at the exit doors. It brought me just too much grief to mumble “I’m not a mom” to the flower-bearer, and have them give an awkward smile and say “that’s OK, take one anyway”. I didn’t want one! I wanted to have a flower because I was a mom, not a flower out of pity or to be inclusive. I do believe it is a nice gesture, but I still struggle(d) with it.
I didn’t talk to too many people about our fertility struggles. My husband and I are quite private people. Those closest to us knew of our struggles, but we still didn’t openly discuss it at any length. I suppose that part of my coping mechanism was to stuff it down and keep going, throwing myself into work, marriage, friendship, our pets, etc. If I started to feel sad, I’d try to feel it, acknowledge it, and move on. I watched my brother, sister-in-law, cousins, dear friends, colleagues, etc. get pregnant and have children. I celebrated with them and never begrudged them their joy. I did grieve quietly on my own, though. There are no good words to comfort those who grieve for what they do not or cannot have. I know I will write more about our fertility journey in upcoming posts, but I want you know that the decision to pursue adoption was one that took us a great deal of time to wrestle with and move towards. Adding to our grief was an initial match, birth of the baby, and last-minute change of heart by the birth mother right before Mother’s Day, making that Mother’s Day my worst ever.
I am amazed and humbled to say that this will be my third Mother’s Day. I am so full of gratitude for the gift of our three treasures. They fill my days with laughter, screams (mostly theirs) and love. I am in a spot that I scarcely dared imagine, and sometimes I fear I will wake up finding it was all a dream. I try to be sensitive to those around me who still haven’t had their dreams of children answered, however. It is easy to be lost in the bliss and forget to show empathy to those who are hurting.
Today, my almost 3-year old came home with the card in the pictures. She created it at a visit to my parents’ house today. My mom is an amazing card maker, and she took time to work with my daughter and let her craft for me this one-of-a-kind gift. I love it! She decorated the envelope, too. My daughter took great pride in giving it to me – opening it for me 😉 and explaining what each piece meant on the page (before even letting me touch it). The five owls represent each of the members in our family, as do the animals on the next page. I had tears in my eyes as she tripped over her words because she was so excited and talking so fast. It meant so much to her to make and give this gift to me.
I remember those awkward gifts that I made for my mom at school or at my grandparents’ house. The pride I had as I gave the (often) tacky but heartfelt gifts to her. As I got into my early teens and cynicism started to set in, I never quite understood why she seemed to treasure these gifts so much. I have never been much of an artist, to say the least, but Mom always gave our gifts pride of place on the fridge or on the piano in the living room for all to see. I get it now. Boy do I get it! I have been given an incredible gift of love today, and all the purchased gifts in the world cannot touch it. Love. Sweet, innocent, and true love. Can’t bottle it, but you can display it with pride and keep it as a reminder during grey days to come.
I always love doing something nice for my own mom to celebrate her on this special day. She is incredible – selfless, kind and generous. She loves us unreservedly and I can only wish to be like her. She gives me a target to reach for every day. Watching her (and my dad) pour love on my kids and genuinely love to do so brings tears to my eyes. She has taught me well, and was taught well by her mom. I sure do miss my grandma!
What was one of your best Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day, etc.) gifts from your child? What made it so special/significant? I’d love to hear about it!