Mother’s Day can be a real bear if you want to be a mom and aren’t. It starts in April every year: store ads, radio commercials, social media content, memes, and even watercooler talk. It snowballs into the one weekend when it feels like everyone is celebrating except you. It can be a lonely, sad place.
Maybe you feel that way too. And if you do, you’re not alone. So many of us have a hard time with Mother’s Day—it’s an emotional day for lots of people, though you might not know it if you didn’t have a pass into this unsought club.
My husband and I always wanted kids. When we learned that becoming parents was going to be far tougher than we ever realized, Mother’s Day became a day on the calendar day that I wanted to erase. Not because I don’t care about my mom—far from it, she’s great and absolutely worth celebrating – but because it just was too painful to feel like I was sitting out on the sidelines of some sport that I didn’t have a permission slip to join. It wasn’t a great place to be.
Starting the wild ride of the adoption process and being on the waiting family list has added another dimension to this upcoming holiday. I’ll admit it is still hard; however, instead of just the familiar stinging heartache, there is also a calm realization that we might be closer to this dream than we ever have been. Grief and sadness are being eclipsed by a feeling of hopeful gratitude. Perhaps someone might recognize in us what I’ve known all along- that we have what it takes to be a really good, caring, and fun parents. I’m still waiting for that moment, but the thought that it will happen makes the month of May brighter.
One of the things that led to this journey was that an adoptive mom told me that her grueling, unsuccessful fertility treatments and losses, her heart was made whole after adopting her children. I too dream of finding those pieces and feeling that peace. I’m also thunderstruck by the understanding that, to become what I want to be, someone else has to make the decision not to become a parent, which is a humbling concept.
Maybe you feel like I have about this day for any number of reasons, or maybe you have a friend or family member who does. Over the years I have learned a couple lessons that have made it easier.
If you are wanting to be a mom and aren’t one yet, please go easy on yourself. Do what makes you feel best to get through that day. Remember that it’s one day of the year- there are lots of other good ones if this one feels bad or hard. Do something to feed your mind, your body, and your soul: some good food, a walk, a bath and a fun face mask, or a good book. Do something that will make you laugh, or play with a pet, or go see a movie. Go to a family event if you want to, but be prepared in case you need to leave early, and know that it’s perfectly fine to do so. Consider using social media sparingly, unless you’ve figured out better settings than me (in which case, please teach me!).
If it feels like the right thing, maybe take some steps toward fulfilling your dream, whatever it may be. The one thing that helped me the most was when we decided to adopt and started the process. We began our journey right before Mother’s Day last year and it made the holiday much more pleasant.
If you are a friend or family member of someone who wants to be a mom but isn’t yet, please be patient and kind to them on Mother’s Day. Respect their feelings and their wishes. If they can’t make it to a celebration that day, be understanding. If they need a laugh, help them find humor. If they need a shoulder to cry on, please be there without judgment or clichés. I’d suggest that you not tell your friend that their pets count as children or that you’ll give your kids to them because they are so naughty. Don’t tell them how much money they are saving by not having kids, or over-sympathize (For instance, sending a text that says “I think of you every year on this day and how awful it must be” – that sort of thing doesn’t inspire many great moments). And please don’t complain about how lame your family’s presents were (um, hello, we’d love that dandelion bouquet and that drawing of what might be a stick person and/or a cat!).
There are a lot of us in this club who struggle through Mother’s Day. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping that your future contains all the things you are wishing for and peace for your heart.
Written By AOW Waiting Mom, Laura