Mother’s Day this year is different than it ever has been in the past. In the past, I’d never been pregnant. This year, I have been. I carried life for 7 weeks. I believe this makes me a mother, but where is my face in adds for mother’s day? Where is the right card to purchase to celebrate me? What is the gift to be given?
In previous years, mother’s day was focused on my own mother and honoring her. As I got married and hoped to start a family, it bothered me that we had not been successful with our attempts. I remember a mother’s day from five years ago when my mom unknowingly said that she thought her gift was going to be the announcement of us making her a grandmother. My face probably said it all. We were in the middle of trying to conceive, but had not had success. I was frustrated, but not sad like I would become over the next several years. To be fair to my mother, this was before we’d sought assistance from an RE and before we thought there might be an issue. It was just what I am sure so many couples have heard from well-intentioned people who’d like to see the couple start a family. She never intended for those words to hurt me. She never intended for those words and that moment to surface in my memory every mother’s day since.
The industry that’s been built up around this day to honor our mothers can’t be blamed either for the hurt it causes me. But because my form of motherhood is faceless and nameless, I feel a strong and resolute contempt for it this year. It heightens the awareness that I’m not part of the mother’s club. It reminds me that I’ll just have to wait until Christmas to be honored and recognized by my husband with diamonds or flowers or some token that supposedly represents his adoring affection for me. It shows me that I have failed in what is expected of the 20-30 year old target market because on mother’s day this year I won’t have toddlers and school-aged children who wake me with breakfast in bed and that I won’t mind cleaning up the mess they’ve made in the kitchen with x cleaning product simply because this gesture was so stinking sweet. I am the unrecognized mother in our consumption driven society.
Some may think I’m nuts for calling myself a mother. Like the guy who cut my hair several months ago who said, “at least you weren’t that far along” when I explained that I had been undergoing IVF, had been on hormones which I thought contributed to my dull and breaking hair, and had recently lost my pregnancy. I guess being only sort of pregnant in his eyes would probably make me only a sort of mother on mother’s day.
Where does my rant leave me? Because I don’t have any living children, I cannot find solace in cherishing them. The pain of the missing member of our family is not somewhat eased with their joy and my wonderment at what was created through their existence. It isn’t so much of recognition I want from anyone, certainly not the companies who make their money off of what has become a consumer driven holiday. I think what I need is awareness. The awareness that mother’s are made when they find life inside of them, regardless of whether that life survives. It certainly wasn’t something I was aware of prior to the loss I’ve experienced, so perhaps it isn’t fair to have contempt towards other clueless people. Perhaps that awareness has to begin with me and others who have gone through what I have.
I believe strongly in the act of naming and how naming shifts narratives. The narrative we are told about mothers is that their children surround and honor them every year on mother’s day. The narrative holds that we name women mothers when their children can be seen by others, or perhaps that was the narrative I believed before I became a mother. I believe this narrative and naming of mothers is too limited and incomplete. My son, Josiah Owen, made me a mother the moment his heart began to beat.