Mother’s Day is approaching, and for me this means an annual pilgrimage through memories of past Mother’s Days. I’ve never really been able to grasp the celebration of the day, because all I can remember is how painful it once was, and how painful it is for many other women that I know and love.
When my husband and I first decided to have a baby, I just assumed I’d have as much control over it as I had over NOT having a baby. Birth control is a misleading name for contraception. There is actually very little control you have over the timing on when you will give birth.
The first year was the hardest. And not just because that year included the first miscarriage (which was the hardest thing of all). But because I was still so full of hope. Every. Month. In the following years, I was still full of hope, but it was a more reasonable hope. A tempered hope that helped me hold on to my sanity on the days when my period started.
But Mother’s Day was never easy. The rest of the time, I managed to dull the ache and only exert my energy over tears when I had the energy to spare. But then this day to honor mothers would roll around, and it was just a reminder of all of my longing and pain. On Mother’s Day, there was no dull in the ache. It is just a raw open wound.
The worst was when they would pass out flowers (or some other cheap gift–never enough chocolate) to mothers at church, and they’d always give them to married women who weren’t mothers. I knew it was supposed to be a kind gesture, and it was meant to make me not feel left out. But I was left out, and there was just no getting around that. And that flower just became a symbol of that to me.
I still don’t like getting that flower at church on Mother’s Day, but it is the least of my concerns anymore. Even more concerning is the damaging Mormon rhetoric that centers around motherhood as the pinnacle of a woman’s life. This is damaging to all women, mothers or not, because it makes women who are mothers feel trapped, and women who don’t want to be mothers feel like outcasts. But it is especially painful for those women who are desperately grasping for this stage of life, while it continues to slip through their fingers (and this could easily include single women whether they struggle with infertility or not).
Now that I’m on the other side of the infertility journey, a success story I suppose, I approach Mother’s Day every year looking back. Because I won’t ever forget the exquisite pain of those years. And I see the women still there, and I want to reach out to them…
I want to hold each one of you and tell you I understand your pain (our infertility stories are all so different, but that pain is universal). I want to help sustain your hope. I want for you to have peace and joy in your life while you wait, wait, wait. I want to know that I see you through the baby announcements and baby showers and pictures on Facebook and baby blessings in church, and I want to commend your bravery for smiling and celebrating through the pain.
And I want to say, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for all of it.
Most of all this Mother’s Day I hope you’ll know that you are not forgotten. No one who has been through this will ever forget you. I’ll never forget you. The Lord will never forget you. And I pray that, more than any other time all year, you will feel love and peace that comes from our Heavenly Parents and Savior next weekend.