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Melissa West is the Co-Founder of The Briggs & Barrett Project, a non-profit dedicated to preventing and educating parents on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.
With Mother’s Day approaching, how are you planning to spend it? Are you excitedly preparing to celebrate, or feeling like you just want to hibernate through the day? Or maybe you’ll just go through the motions, not feeling the same enthusiasm as you used to. For many people, Mother’s Day isn’t always a day of celebration. Whatever the reason, it’s okay to not feel like celebrating.
It’s not just women struggling with infertility who find this day painful; anyone who has lost a child, or is estranged from a child may find Mother’s Day difficult to celebrate.
Likewise, women whose children are struggling with addiction or other difficult challenges often find Mother’s Day hard too, since Mother’s Day might make them feel like a failure.
Single women who want to become mothers and feel time passing by may feel that longing more intensely on this day.
Moms who have placed their children through adoption may feel their empty arms more intensely on Mother’s Day.
And then there is the view from the other side of the mother/child relationship: women who have lost their mothers or are estranged from their mothers may dread this day since it reminds them of their loss.
Sometimes, I think of how myopic I’ve been. As a daughter, I liked having a day to honor my mother. As a mom, I liked having a day where my kids and husband honored me. As someone immersed in the world of infertility, child loss, and adoption, I was aware of how Mother’s Day affects the infertile and birthmothers. If I had taken the time to think it through, I would have realized, of course, that they aren’t alone in their suffering. But honestly, I hadn’t taken the time to recognize this.
So many people who suffer through Mother’s Day feel as though they’re invisible. Though you might have insight into the personal lives of your close friends and family, there’s no way for you to know what strangers and passersby have gone through. You don’t know who has had three miscarriages, or hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, or who doesn’t hear from her grown son other than once a year, or who placed a child for adoption years before. Pain is often invisible unless you’re the one feeling it, isn’t it?
During your Mother’s Day celebrations this year, look around you. Really look at the people who are there and recognize that not all are celebrating. Also, notice who isn’t there; take note of who is holed up at home watching a Law & Order marathon with a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s because it is simply too painful to participate.
I was blessed to become a mom. My road started with…
Motherhood, to me, is a gift. An honor. Something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Yes, there are days that my kids drive me crazy (that’s a given, right?). But that doesn’t change how so incredibly grateful I am to be able to have this role and how incredibly sad I am for the woman that want to be a mommy so bad.
There was a time in my life where I didn’t know if I would ever see this side of things, and I surely will never forget the days and nights I spent praying on my hands and knees for a baby to hold in my arms and bawling my eyes out in the shower knowing nobody would see or hear me. That’s why Mother’s Day is so meaningful to me. It reminds me of the journey I went through to become a mother to our boys, and it reminds me of my three babies waiting for me in Heaven.
This Mothers Day, please know you are not alone. For those that get to enjoy a celebratory Mother’s Day, just remember that while your celebrations and joy are completely valid, there are many that wish they were in your shoes.