Making Peace With Mother's Day.
I am trying to make peace with Mother’s Day.
It’s a day I have softened towards, a day I once despised and have come to tolerate.
It’s the best I can do.
I was once indifferent to the day. I do appreciate and love my own mother and think she deserves recognition and thanks for her role in my life, so I remembered her with cards and flowers.
But as soon as I was old enough for people to expect me to become a mother and I was not able to rise to their expectations, I began to hate the day. For years, I hated it, being expected to celebrate what I could not have, to honor and bless those who had achieved something I so desperately wanted but was perpetually denied. For me, it was a day of resentment, not of joy.
I celebrate my mother. I love her. I celebrate my mother-in-law, my sister, my sisters-in-law. But I would be lying if I denied my own jealousy at the natural, effortless ways they came into motherhood.
I first became a mother second-hand, borrowing kids for a brief period while their own mothers tried to heal. Even then, the words “Happy Mother’s Day” felt like a knife, a clean slice through the ribs, straight to the heart—a reminder of what I could only do by proxy.
And even after I officially became a mom, after the adoption of our daughter was finalized, I was never the only one in her eyes. My daughter loves another—a woman who made the hard and courageous decision to give up her child for the chance at a better life, a woman I’ve come to respect and appreciate, a woman who made it possible for me to become a mom, a woman my daughter loves in complicated and tangled ways I will never fully understand.
So I share the day. I buy her flowers. I sign my name to her card. It is not always easy, but without her sacrifice, I would not be a mom. She gave me the most precious gift by putting her daughter’s needs before her own.
Mothering is, after all, a concern for another above yourself.
So I am making peace with the day. I must acknowledge my own jealous grief, but I cannot be consumed by it. I am not a mother in the effortless way I imagined, but I am still grateful for the children I’ve been given to nurture, however briefly. I remain grateful for the maternal figures in my own life. And I am grateful for my precious daughter and for her other mother, the woman who made it possible for me to become a mom.
It's not what I thought it would be, motherhood. It hasn't gone at all according to plan. The day is still grief-singed, but I cannot deny the incredible beauty in the gratitude of the children I have nurtured. Even as I'm typing this, as my phone is on silent while I work, I see a missed call and voicemail from my first foster child, and a text from another. They remembered me, and they are grateful.
Happy Mother's Day indeed.
5/9/2021 05:41:56 pm
Your life has not only blessed the children you have mothered but countless others. You have amazing talent the fruits of which you have generously shared in your writing and mentoring thru avenues most of us have never tapped. The bloom that is crushed spreads its fragrance to all.
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