Mothers’ Day when mothers are difficult and you aren’t one

I’ve heard several people say, “There are plenty of women who have given birth who are not mothers, and plenty of women who haven’t given birth who are.”

Mothers’ Day is for women who have mothered their children (or someone else’s children), not for the rest of us.

I think even if the unimaginable happens and I ever have a living child, this holiday is going to be banned in our household. It infuriates me that it’s more sacred than Christmas or Pascha, and that it hurts so many women in so many different ways.

But truly, knowing what I know about pregnancy and childbirth and the frailties of infancy, I am amazed every day that any of us are even here. The fact that women for millennia have sacrificed themselves–their lives at least figuratively, and sometimes literally–for the continuation of humanity is humbling, even and perhaps especially in this age of low infant mortality. We are all here because someone sacrificed for us, even if they didn’t mother us.

The day is not just sad because our babies are not with us, and I can’t be a legitimate mother, but also because I deeply mourn not having a mother-in-law. I always wanted a mother-in-law who would be like a real second mother to me–someone I could call and e-mail and go shopping with. I have met my mother-in-law three times now, she has never said more than five words to me (I remember them all: “Hi,” and “Go sit over there.”), and she didn’t bother showing up for our wedding. Having a baby made us more distant from here, since she verbally expressed to my husband that she was “too young” (at the young, young age of 60) to be a grandmother so we needed to have an abortion.

On Mothers’ Day, I mourn for our lost children (especially since everyone chooses this day to announce their own joyful, perfect pregnancies) and for the mother my husband and I both lost.

It is hard to be joyful when my heart is in pieces. The struggle against bitterness is ever so hard.

Maybe if others can be shocked and horrified when you asked what they did on Christmas (“*gasp* I don’t celebrate THAT!”), I should be able to do that about Mothers’ Day, too.


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