Back and forth, back and forth.
I cannot decide if I will be attending church on Mother’s Day. I haven’t for the past few years. When I reminded my husband of this, he said, “Did not attending make you feel happy, sad or indifferent?” I didn’t answer, but instead shot him the look that read, “Don’t ask good questions that force me to think.” He just smirked.
Lounging awhile longer in bed makes for a nice morning, yes. Yet doing so doesn’t remove the loss or hurt from the day. The first few Mother’s Days after Munchkin arrived brought tears and heartache in the church pews. One year in our previous church, I actually stood and spoke for the mothers who relinquished babies, in turn making others mothers. The stares and gaping mouths penetrated my being; I never did so again, choosing to stand with the other mothers and silently acknowledge all parts of my motherhood: the two boys next to me, the daughter hundreds of miles away, the baby lost too early but desperately loved.
I stopped going to church on Mother’s Day after one particularly difficult year. Even with a Pastor who knew my story, knew of my feelings and struggles with grief and loss and motherhood as a whole, the individuals participating in special ceremonies on special days can make or break me. I don’t even remember specifically what escaped from the mouth of another congregation member, but it left me feeling less than, as though I didn’t even deserve to be a mother to the children climbing on me during the service. No one should be made to feel that way on Mother’s Day.
And so, for the past few years, I chose to stay home and celebrate in quiet with my husband and sons. I spent time reflecting on my daughter, on her mother, on the baby we lost to miscarriage, on the two little boys who love me to the moon and back. My husband, understanding the mix of emotions brought forth by the day, always treats me as if I am a Queen. One recent year, he made crab legs for dinner and I melted into a puddle of beloved goo. He goes above and beyond — on more than just this one difficult day per year — to remind me of all I am to him, to our sons, and yes, to my daughter.
Sometimes I try to smack a bit of reality into myself with self-talk of how many other mothers have it worse. And they do; I acknowledge my blessings are innumerable. But the Pain Olympics aren’t real. You don’t get a bigger carnation or trophy or cookie for having the saddest story on Mother’s Day. The day comes and the day goes and we still live with our realities — our happiness, our sadness, our everything intertwined. We still have to wake up on Monday morning and go back to work or tend to our families or whatever it is that we do, that we nurture, that we are in charge of making better in this world. Our journeys — our achievements, our losses, our hope, our grief, our faith, our doubt, our souls — may be different, but life continues to pull us all forward whether we’re ready for forward motion or not.
I don’t yet know if I’ll go to church on Mother’s Day. I don’t know how I’ll feel that day. But I do know that I feel eternally grateful for my various roles of motherhood; I don’t take any of them lightly. Perhaps that’s why this holiday remains so difficult to me: I recognize the full importance and overwhelming responsibility of motherhood. As a mother of loss, a birth mother, and an everyday mother to two little boys, I feel a catch in my throat when I think of all that has been placed upon my shoulders when it comes to this quickly growing next generation.
My fervent prayer remains that I can do right by all of my children by being the best mother in my various capacities to each of them.