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.