Tag Archives: mother without children

A Non-Moms View of Mother’s Day

My mother is fantastic!  I owe so many of the fabulous things that I am and have to her!  It has always been a blessing to call her mom and I’m so happy to celebrate her – today and every day. The truth, however, is that Mother’s Day is difficult and painful for me… because I am not a mom and never will be.

My beautiful mother!
My purty mother!

 

Mother’s Day is beautiful, and I always enjoy hearing the wonderful things friends and family share about the special women in their lives.  None of us would be here without a mom of our own – whether biological, extended family, adopted, chosen or unknown.  There are so many types of mothers in the world and a woman who has raised or nurtured a child in any way is an amazing sight to behold.  They multitask; practice phenomenal amounts of grace; act as caretaker, doctor, cook, maid, teacher, moral compass, friend, disciplinarian, cheerleader, counselor… The list, frankly, is too long to fit in a single post.  Suffice it to say – it’s an incredible job and undertaking!

Mothering has got to be the most difficult job!
Mothering has to be the most difficult job – mine excels at it!

 

However, every year when we celebrate and recognize that fantastic group of women – deservedly – there is a different group of women that suffer in silence.  These are the women that, for one reason or another,  should be mothers but are not.  These are the women that never found a mate to start a family with, endured miscarriages, experienced the pain of infertility, were dealt a life of poor health, are estranged from their children, were unable to adopt, or have given up their child into adoption.  These are women that had a family and lost their children through a divorce… Women that lost a child who ran away, was in an accident, was a victim of crime. These women *should* be mothers, but for myriad reasons are not.

I am one of these women.

“Mother”…  At one point, I couldn’t even say the word without a pang of desperation.  Each time I logged on to social media and looked at my friend’s adorable offspring, I had to quickly scroll past their pictures or run the risk of bursting into tears.  I wrote blog posts about the struggle.  Commercials, TV shows, movies, or families spending time together at the park or a festival I was attending, could send my emotions into a tailspin, and still sometimes do.  I recall painful Mother’s Day church services, hearing the pastor ask mothers to stand and be recognized, only to feel humiliated and empty, like less of a female, surrounded by all of the standing women in the motherhood club…  At times, I’ve held an infant or child in my motherless arms simultaneously being pulled in two directions – half of me honored and rejoicing with the parent letting me hold their precious baby… the other half ripping apart inside knowing that cuddly moment was fleeting and would end with me walking away as barren and childless as I was walking into the situation.  Just writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.

I know parenting isn’t easy and that there are probably times at least some wonder what in the hell they were getting themselves into.  I know individuals and couples that actively choose not to parent, for various reasons.  Still other men and women aren’t meant to parent or are not capable, and knowing that, give their child into adoption so that someone else may provide a life for it…  All people, at some point in their lives, question whether they should or should not have a family and I respect whatever decision they come to in their circumstances.  Please, just understand that it’s difficult for some of us because the decision may not have fully been in our control…

If I don’t come out on a play date with you and your children, it’s not because I don’t love you guys or want you to include me in your lives… If you’re talking about your kids and my eyes look a little red or my smile seems forced, it’s not because I’m not interested in hearing the stories you have to tell.  If you post a picture on social media and I don’t leave a comment or click “like”, it’s not that your family isn’t cute and worthy of a minute of my time.  No matter how I know you – I’m happily your friend, neighbor, family member, or colleague, and long to share in your life and the lives of the youngsters you adore… Just know that some days it’s more difficult to accept my situation, but despite that,  I don’t want you to stop sharing with me!  There are moments that the sting is a little sharper, but it has nothing to do with you – I promise!  Sometimes, my mommy instinct flag is just flying higher than usual.  On those days, there is a lump in my throat, an ache in my chest, and a noticeable emptiness to my arms merely because on Mother’s Day, and every other day, I simply long to be a part of your ranks.

me & mom vols game
I owe so much to this lovely woman!

 

Please be kind to one another, and please love all women in your life today!

Until next time – thanks for coming along on my journey…
~h

The Mask of “I’m Fine”

When this blog began I decided to only write that which is true.  Truth as it applies to my life and my circumstances.  I wanted transparency instead of platitudes or cliché.  To approach topics without shying away from painful admissions, if relevant, and to hopefully inspire others (and maybe inspire myself) to be brave.

Perhaps I was overreaching and the loftiness of the goal set me up for failure.  Part of the reason my posts have been few and the time between each long is because life has been more lemons than lemonade of late.  That is not to say that there are no silver linings!  There are lots of things to be thankful for – I am full of gratitude and completely aware of the blessings in the life I lead… However, heavy clouds sometimes take a while to dissipate or can randomly scuttle across the sun in the midst of a bright day.  This year has brought a great deal of darkness and days I feel unable to reach the light no matter how brightly it shines.

Sun hidden by clouds
… clouds sometimes take a while to dissipate or can randomly scuttle across the sun in the midst of a bright day.

Although I don’t mean to resort to acting the hermit, it happens at times.  Those who know me well are aware of the health challenges I face and (hopefully) understand that any given day can bring physical challenges that make it easier to remain in one place and try to recover or conserve energy as needed.  While that is the single biggest reason I fall off the grid for days at a time, it isn’t the only challenge that prevents me from being a social butterfly, unfortunately, and lately I’m more hermit than human.  Let me first apologize for my absence – I miss you all dearly – and second, let me attempt to explain.

Chronic illness can help a person master the skill of deception – wear the mask of “I’m fine”.  Ask anyone you know that endures continual pain or physical ailment and they will probably tell you that dealing with those issues helped them, at least at some point, become more adept at “I’m fine”.  When I have to go somewhere on a less than wonderful day, I will usually try to act livelier than I really feel.  Admittedly, it is a risk… The energy necessary to pull off “I’m fine” will often significantly reduce the duration of my outing, but it keeps uncomfortable questions at bay.  The more recent weight on my shoulders and in my heart is not as easily masked, to my chagrin, and necessitates that I stay away from people in any capacity or be willing to deal with those questions firsthand.  It doesn’t allow for masks and hides from no one.  The face it wears is evident no matter how much makeup applied, how expertly crafted the smile put on, or how clever the tactical diversions I employ.  It is the face of a woman who has no children of her own.  The face of a woman who grew up in a large family, dreamed of sharing one with her husband, and wakes up every morning alone.  One who goes to bed without having kissed tiny hands and feet or listened, exhausted, for plaintive cries in the middle of the darkest night.  I am that woman, this is the reality I have come face to face with this year, and the revelation has broken something within me that I fear will never be whole again.

There is no way to tell people you can’t leave the house because you cry each day.  Heck – my family and friends know I cry about everything anyway, so it would hardly be a reason to stay home.  It’s just who I am!  It’s so much a part of me that each time I work a wedding I manage to get choked up standing behind a camera while doing my job… even though they are people I didn’t meet before that day!  lol!  More sensitive than just about any person I know, it’s not unusual for me to get teary over things that others dismiss without a second glance.  Yet, those are tears, no matter how embarrassing, that I don’t mind sharing with the public eye.  Sure, it’s not always socially acceptable, and yes – I definitely receive strange looks sometimes… but knowing the sensitivity is there, unavoidable, also lends me a certain kind of strength.  Will I cry about things no one will understand?  Yes, but it has been happening my whole life and is expected under a certain set of circumstances, so I just accept it and go on.  The recurring nature of it has built its own layer of callus as a type of self-preservation.  The crying I’ve been doing lately is different.  It’s not sensitivity crying and it’s not to share.  It’s the kind of crying that can only occur alone, where no one can hear the anguish in choking sobs that happen at the drop of a hat, while watching a diaper commercial on television or looking at someone’s family pictures on social media… Alone – where no one else has to see the ugliness of it.  And it IS ugly.  This isn’t a lovely, lone tear rolling down my cheek calling to mind comparisons to Demi Moore à la Ghost.  These kind of tears require solitude.  The type only attainable while heartbroken in my pajamas at noon I can thrash and wail and no one is uncomfortably waiting out the emotional display to hear “I’m fine”…  Because I’m not.

So please understand that I didn’t want to miss your baby shower… Please know I really did want to come see you in the hospital after you welcomed a beautiful bundle of joy to the world.  My heart is full of happiness for you and your family!!  I mean that with all sincerity!  But please know that simultaneously, my heart is breaking.  And that can, at times, prevent me from sharing these moments with you while maintaining any sort of grace or showing courtesy.  There is a hole in my life that nothing else will ever be able to fill.  Not the all-encompassing love I feel for my husband, not the joy I receive for working hard for an achievement, not material possession or adventurous experience.  Some things allow for substitution with others, but this is an exchange rate that will never balance in my favor.

In my heart I hope you understand that for each time your bladder felt ready to burst or your pants wouldn’t fit, I have placed my hand upon my tummy and tried to accept that it will never feel a baby’s kick…  For every feeding when you dragged yourself awake, I was also probably awake, lying in the black of night listening to the silence of my house.  Sure, I’ll never have to worry about childproofing and vaccines and choosing the best childcare, but I will also never feel the joy of having a small child cling to my leg and call me mommy.  Never feel soft, chubby hands pat my face with utter devotion, never kiss boo-boos or sing “ABC’s”,  never rejoice and cry and worry for a child of my own.  I will never hear a toddler’s laughter or see a teenager’s angst between these walls, and this year has been about coming to terms with that.  Sometimes I have to think, if being a parent is the hardest job in the world… being a mother without a child must rank right up there.

So, if I have seemed distant or missed an important milestone in your life, please be patient with me.  I’m working on a new face that is quite a bit more difficult than the last and I don’t have a template to go from.  Nothing I have experienced has prepared me to wear something like this and nothing in my closet seems to match… It’s transparent, you see, and makes no apologies for things that cannot be changed and hurts I cannot hide.  This mask is merely my face as I learn to live with this new view for the future.  And although I’m not fine right now, I hope some day I will be….

Hope
The mask is merely my face, and although I’m not fine right now, I hope some day I will be….