If there is a single date on my calendar that carries conflicted emotions, it is the second Sunday of each May. Here are some of my realities as we approach Mother’s Day, 2018:
- Today is Grandma Dorothy birthday. Mom has been grieving her own mother’s death for 15 Mother’s Days now.
- I am beyond thankful to still have my mom, especially after an assortment of medical scares, for both of us, over recent years. She is 75. How many more Mays will we have together?
- I am a long-awaited, grateful mother to three living miracles here on earth, ages 12, 15, 18.
I am a mother to three children (and possibly more – several suspected early miscarriages where possible pregnancies were not medically confirm-able), awaiting me in Heaven.
- I feel guilty for having, physical reminders to honor them with, when so many friends long for the title “mother” even to a Heaven-born child.
- I survived a decade of temperature charts, pills, shots, surgeries, raised and dashed hopes, the cycles of infertility and recurrent losses.
- Our losses were both miscarriages and adoption losses (dozens of adoption leads, with 7 specific children forever in my heart and prayers).
- I’m an infertility and loss author. Infertility was my very identity for over a decade! (You can still find me on Twitter, Pinterest, eBay, and many other places, as InfertilityMom, the identity I took in trying to make some sense of the change in my world, once God sent living children.)
- Seven years of primary infertility, waiting to bring home our living 4 1/2 pound miracle (who is now 6 feet tall).
- Three years, and more losses, to add our only living daughter to the family.
- Two years of postpartum depression after bringing home our little girl.
- The shocking realization that we truly had no control over “planning” our family, when God sent our third living child, an absolutely unplanned pregnancy, when we truly thought we were done with our journey to parenthood and were trying to prevent pregnancy, for medical reasons.
- My 18-year-old is taking finals from his freshman year of college. Time moves SO much faster, this side of infertility. I’m sure I was just taking him to the library for preschool story-time last week.
- My high school freshman is preparing for our 6th trip to an out-of-state children’s hospital, in 7 months. Please pray for us next week, as she undergoes her second major surgery of 2018. Her health challenges have certainly made me feel I have “earned” my motherhood status, through hours and hours of medical research, telephone calls, housing / school / insurance arrangements. (Not bad for a strokie mom!)
- My middle schooler has spend the past seven years dealing with a recurrent influx of family medical traumas, unlike many adults have coped with, even once. Sixth grade is already a hard age to be. My heart aches for him every day!
- I have many after-infertility mom friends, dealing with all kinds of parenting issues, impacting physical, emotional, mental, legal, spiritual, relational, and academic aspects of their lives. Mom guilt can be intense!
- I have friend enduring all stages of the infertility journey.
- I have several friends who will never know motherhood, either by aging out of fertility, or surgical end of these dreams.
- I have friends who desperately want to get married and raise kids, yet remain single.
- I have a friend who is facing this Mother’s Day after the death of her only daughter, and the long-term estrangement of her only son.
- I have many friend grieving the deaths of their mothers.
- I have friends who have really sad (non-existent, abandoned, or terribly hard) relationships with their moms.
- I have several single mom friends who astound me as they carry all the weight of parenthood, often while facing their own significant health struggles too.
- I have friend dealing with motherhood pain from both ends of the spectrum, in relation to person of origin AND offspring.
For most of my mothering years I struggled with the true belief I was a “bad mom.” I think infertility-survivor guilt played a huge part here. The rejection of failed adoptions too, thinking maybe there was something all those decision makers had seen in me, making not a good candidate for motherhood. I had years to critically evaluate how others parented, to write a script of how I would do things differently. When I repeatedly failed at meeting my own expectations of perfection, the standard of “good motherhood” was unattainable.
This thought greatly intensified after my strokes, when the kids were raised by my in-laws for eight months. I was convinced this separation was because it was my husband’s chance to take the kids away from me, rather than understanding that I was truly incapable of physically caring for even my own needs during that season.
My intensive counseling year began in February of last year. The week before Mother’s Day, I was challenged to ask Jesus His thoughts on my motherhood journey, starting with my belief I was bad for my kids and they would be better off without me. I was stunned by His response.
In a stream of words that left me truly breathless, Truth pored from my lips in a several minute cascade that left me sobbing and forever changed. “A good mom…” statements toppled, one after another, from my own mouth, as God described me to my own ears. I realized, for the first time, that my imperfections were not failing my children, but that I was simply human and exactly who my kids needed in a mother.
Mother’s Day. I still don’t know exactly what to make of you.