Late last night I emailed my friend S to wish her a happy 1st Mother’s Day. Knowing it’s a sad day for me, both because my mother is dead and because I’m still working out not having had a child, her message back to me was sweet and appreciated. She said,”They should really change it to Women’s Day… since it takes a village to raise a child, so happy day to you too.”
She’s right. I, and many other non-moms, find so many ways to nurture others. Though it’s not celebrated and barely recognized. The world still doesn’t understand that just because you’re not rearing children doesn’t mean you misspend your mothering instincts. We find ways.
Mother’s Day has been difficult for 15 years since my dear mother left this planet. I’d mute TV commercials, or change stations; I’d try to ignore the Mother’s Day sales flyers and ads in newspapers. I stopped buying May issues of magazines, and knowing that even glancing at a greeting card that said “to the greatest Mom,” would send me over the edge I didn’t go near the aisle in any store that sold them. But with the advent of social media, it’s more difficult to ignore the build up. For at least a week before the day I have to all but avoid the F and T logos on my computer and phone. (sorry if I missed any birthdays in the process)
I don’t need Mother’s Day and its hype to remind me of my mom – I think about her just about every day. In the last few years of her life, I was so caught up in my career that Mother’s Day, her birthday (Aug) and my birthday (Dec) were just about the only few occasions I was able to spend real time with her. So, these three days have become ever more significant. They’ve also become days around which I have to build armour to get through them.
Add that to the ongoing process of making peace with not having had children and you have a recipe for a very sad day. I prepare for it, I usually make a plan to honour it in my own private way and avoiding too many mentions of moms is part of the preparation. Anyone who has lost someone significant understands this practice. Grief is unpredictable, even years later. It’s been pointed out to me that grief is also the word for my feelings about being childless. And I think that’s right.
This morning I woke up in a panic because I think I’ve actually forgotten the sound of my mother’s voice. That voice had the ability to instantly sooth and calm me, no matter my age, independence or accomplishments. I miss that. Lacking any adequate replacement or surrogate, I still need it. You know, someone who is for me no matter what, who knows me inside and out and still loves me. Someone who so openly adores and loves me. The one person who happily accepts, without reservation, all the love and attention I have to give. A place where so few words of explanation are ever needed because of a deep and ongoing knowing. I have to wonder how I get by without that. I think the lack of it can sometimes make me a harder person than I am. An unwanted outcome.
How many of us have suffered through this day, while putting on a sweet smile and wishing others a happy one. It’s the polite thing to do. And I’m not the type of person who isn’t happy for people who have what I lack. I’m happy for my friend S, the new mom, and my friend J, the new dad. I’m happy my siblings have children in their lives so the sense of continuity is still alive for them. I hope they all enjoyed a wonderful day of pampering and celebration.
Still, I cannot tell you how much I cherished the words of my friend S, because it meant she took a moment to let me know she knows it’s not the same for me.
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