Thursday, May 9, 2013

An Open Letter Concerning Mother’s Day, from Those Who Wish We Were Celebrating

When I started writing more seriously six years ago, it was with a specific mission in mind: to tell the story of infertility. What it feels like. What it can do to you. How it affects you every single day. A few things have changed since then. First, I have expanded my topics to include parenthood, mental health issues, adoption, and whatever strikes me on a particular day. Second, I no long categorize myself as a person dealing with infertility. While I never got pregnant, I am a mother now. I am not actively trying to get pregnant, nor am I involved in the adoption process. My journey came to a happy end when our daughter came home.
But I hope the community of women who long to become mothers will still allow me to speak on their behalf. Not only do I remember vividly that longing, I still get pains in my heart when I see pictures of sonograms, or mothers holding newborns immediately after labor. Or when I see children who look exactly like their parents. This is my right to feel that loss, and I will defend that right. If you are interested in arguing with me, please find a different blog to read.

So I find myself now in what feels like an ideal position to be a spokesperson. I remember the pain. I still feel it occasionally. But I am- for the most part- healed from it. At the same time, I have joined that elusive Mommy Club. So I speak the language. I understand their needs too.

With that in mind, I address today the latter group. Those who will be celebrating Mother’s Day as Mothers this Sunday. We have some things we want you- and those celebrating you- to understand.

An Open Letter Concerning Mother’s Day, from Those Who Wish We Were Celebrating-
Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year for us. It feels like the whole world is celebrating the one thing that is missing in our lives. The one thing we would do anything to have. And the one thing that is entirely out of control. Even so, we do not wish to take away from your celebration. We want you to be honored on Sunday. We want you to be recognized and pampered, and to feel loved. If we do or say anything in the days leading up to your big day that you find hurtful, please consider our acts with grace and patience. We are simply in a lot of pain, and dealing the best that we can.

There are a few things you can do to make the day a little less difficult for us. First, if we choose to stay home, please honor that. Many of us choose this day as a holiday to mourn the loss that we feel. But if we are out- at church, or at special events, or even just dinner or shopping- know that this took courage. We know that you want to support us. But there honestly isn’t a single thing you can say that makes this day hurt less. We understand that things like “Your time will come,” or “It’s in God’s timing,” or “Try to celebrate the other mothers in your life,” feel helpful. But the truth is, they only feel good to you. It is best for us- truly- if you do not bring up Mother’s Day to us at all. We know what day it is. We know that you are thinking of us. We do not need to talk about it. Not today.

One more thought. You do not necessarily know who we are. We may be the career woman who seems to have it all after “choosing” career over family. (…who would give up her career in a heartbeat if she could manage to get pregnant.) We may be the young couple who has secretly been trying to conceive for years. We may have experienced multiple pregnancy losses without sharing the information. We may be in the adoption process but for whatever reason a match has not come through. Please error on the side of caution. If you do not know where we are on our family journey, please do not mention it today.

We know this sounds like a lot. And we do not want you to feel like you’re walking on egg shells on your special day. We also know it sounds more dramatic than could possibly be necessary. We do not ask you to understand. We only ask you to trust. Please be gentle with us today. We are hurting.

Happy Mother’s Day. We hope to celebrate with you next year.

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