Today I got to enjoy an extra two hours of sleep, and was awakened with baby laughs and breakfast in bed. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my Mother’s Day. However, despite having exactly what I wanted for my “first” Mother’s Day, there is still a tinge of sadness.
Mother’s Day is a very emotionally-charged holiday, perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day we are all acutely aware of the singletons — as we’ve all been there at one point in our lives. But on Mother’s Day many women suffer in silence, and we do not know the heartache they endure watching everyone else’s happy (and sometimes braggy) social media updates.
Though this year is exactly what I had always hoped for, my prior Mother’s Day experiences have run the gamut. When I was young and single, Mother’s Day was easy: the focus was still on my own mom. We would get together as a family to celebrate the holiday, along with her birthday, which falls within the same week.
When I met my husband, he already had a daughter (born right around the time we met). I watched her grow from a young baby, and when she came to live with him at age two (and later us when we moved in together the next year), I raised her as I would my own. But there were no cards or thanks for me on Mother’s Day. No matter that she spent more time with me than her biological mother, it was a stinging reminder that I wasn’t really considered a “mom” yet.
Two years ago I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I didn’t get to enjoy it for very long, as worrisome symptoms started popping up fairly early. I miscarried in April at around 8 weeks pregnant. I told almost no one outside of very close friends and immediate family, as if it was something to be ashamed of. Mother’s Day was a devastating reminder of our loss. I still wasn’t a mother– I had failed.
A year later things were looking up. I was pregnant again, due with AB on May 7th. I would finally get to have a “real” Mother’s Day! AB had other plans. Showing her stubborn streak before we even met her, she stuck around in my belly until a full week later. I still expected that I had earned a celebration — I was literally growing our baby, and since we were now engaged, I would officially be Lilu’s stepmom soon. But on Mother’s Day there was no acknowledgment, no cards, nothing. Was I still not “mom enough?”
This year, there is finally no denying my legitimacy as a mom. Though I have felt like a mom since Lilu was very young, the outside world didn’t always see it the same way. Not until I had a baby born from my own body to hold in my arms did I count.
I didn’t set out to write a bitter blog post, but rather to remind us all to show compassion for those that might be hiding sadness behind their smiles today. Women trying desperately to have children, mothers who didn’t get to meet their babies, mothers who lost their children so young, women who lost their own mothers — these are the stories that we don’t always see. Even for someone like me, who finally got my “first” Mother’s Day cards, this day can still trigger painful memories of years past that weren’t so joyful.
To all the mothers: DO enjoy your day! And yes, you can still post all your happy photos of flowers and cards on Facebook. But try to take a moment to reflect with gratitude on your blessings and be respectful in your posts — you never know what others are going through and who might be having a hard time on this “happy” day.
Love to you ALL and Happy Mother’s Day!
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