It's Mother's Day. A day to celebrate those women who have raised us, whether we grew in their bellies, or in their hearts. There are all kinds of mothers out there. But for many women, today is a painful reminder of what we don't have.
For years, Mother's Day was a day in which I'd always yearn to be included. As someone who struggled with infertility for years, it became a dreaded holiday. A reminder of the fact that I indeed was not a mother.
And although I'm now a mom, the scars are still there. I still remember that feeling of dread as I watched my Facebook newsfeed blow up with adorable pictures and friends hugging their children while holding a bouquet of flowers. It's not that I didn't think they deserved to be celebrated, it's that I could not understand or accept the fact that I wasn't a part of the club.
I'm not good at failure. I'm stubborn and generally tenacious about going after what I want and achieving it. But infertility doesn't work that way. It doesn't play fair.
My son came home Thursday with a handmade necklace of dried pasta and a picture he colored for me, beaming with pride. He said, "this is because I love you Mommy," as he handed over the gifts and attempted to eat a portion of my necklace. I was immediately emotional. Not only because I was so overjoyed by the effort he put forth and the sentiment, but also because I realized that today I'm somewhere very few thought I would be. I've miraculously beaten the odds. Not everyone is so lucky.
There are so many women still fighting the battle. Still yearning for that handmade dried pasta necklace and all the love that comes with it. I have trouble putting them from my mind today. You can never truly explain that empty feeling or forget the pain.
Of course, now that I'm a mom I have plenty of mom guilt and new struggles. And I know I'm not alone in this. A dear friend of mine, and one of the best moms I know, confessed to me during a play date at the park that she just wasn't the parent she thought she would be. She was feeling guilty. I watched as she laughed and engaged with our children while I sat pregnant and immobile on a park bench, completely blown away that she couldn't see what I saw. She's a mom I look up to who always seems to have it together. It's a fact she showers way more than I do, brushes her hair daily, I bet she's even wearing clean underwear, her kids are lovely human beings who adore her and yet she feels like she's failing.
For the record, I'm no longer wearing any underwear because I can't find the energy to go in search of maternity sizes and nothing else fits comfortably, I haven't showered in 3 days and my hair has been in a ponytail since I can't remember when. I can't even lift my son in to a swing at the playground. But he still loves me. Too often, we only recognize our flaws.
Before having my son, I thought I would be the BEST mom ever. I would never let my children eat sugar, or processed food, or watch TV. I had a picture in my mind of the perfect mom that I would be. I used to judge women when I saw them screaming at their kids in Target, baffled at why they were magically able to procreate while I was driving my husband and I in to serious debt just to have at a shot at parenting.
Oh, how things change. Yesterday my husband and I attended a graduation celebration at a restaurant where my son dipped a cheeseburger and fries into ketchup as he watched TV on Kindle all so we could attempt to mingle, and I bribed him to stay seated by giving him a lollipop.
Needless to say, I've stopped judging other moms. I'm not the perfect mother I thought I would be. I'm messy and impulsive and clearly flawed. But my house is filled with laughter and daily I'm blown away by the amount of love I receive. I've made it. I'm here. I'm in the club.
To all my fellow moms, those who are in the club but think they aren't living up to their true mom potential, I celebrate you. You may only notice your flaws. But when I look at you, I am in awe of your strength. I respect you and see qualities in each of you that I wish I had.
To all those women still struggling to be a part of the mom club, there are no words to make today any easier. I hope that someday you find peace and joy. Whether it's in this club, or another unforeseen path leads you there. Until then, you are in my thoughts. Today, as put on my dried pasta necklace, I share it with all of you.