Mother’s Day is a lovely day for me.
I will likely be greeted with breakfast in bed by an adorable husband and three kids bearing handmade cards. We’ll go to church, where I’ll receive a carnation and stand with all of the other mothers to a round of applause. The rest of the day I’ll spend doing whatever I like–reading a book, shopping, taking a long bath–while my husband cooks dinner and takes over full-time kid duty. What could be better?
It wasn’t long ago, though, that Mother’s Day was hard. Painful, even. I remember before my children were born, sitting in the congregation at church while all the mothers around me were asked to stand for a moment of recognition. I clapped along with everyone else, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. And I blinked back tears because I could not join them. After years of “trying” and multiple miscarriages, I wasn’t sure if I ever would.
This year I will join them, just as I have every Mother’s Day since my oldest was born six years ago. And like always, I am sure I will find myself shifting uncomfortably when asked to stand. My eyes will search the sanctuary, looking for her, for the woman like me, those years ago. She will be there; somebody like her will always be there. I know the round of applause for the mothers, the carnations they hand out at the door–those things will break her heart, just a little. She would give anything for sleepless nights with a fitful newborn, for harried grocery trips with a preschooler who grabs candy off the shelves.
I find myself uncomfortable with being honored on Mother’s Day, as if I’m being celebrated for my good luck. And isn’t that how most of us fall into this role–luck? Nature smiles on us, and we are blessed with babies. But for some, becoming a mother is about painful medical treatments. It’s about hours of adoption paperwork. It’s about hoping and wanting and wondering if it’s all for nothing. So this Mother’s Day, more than anything, I am grateful for this gift of motherhood–a gift I do not deserve, one I did not earn, and yet it is mine. For now, it is mine.
How I wish motherhood were available to everyone who wanted it. But it doesn’t work that way. Motherhood doesn’t always come to those who are deserving, to those who long for a child. Why it falls into the laps of some women and remains elusive for others, I will never understand. But I do understand the yearning. I understand the sadness. And this Sunday, I will think of those women who are hurting on Mother’s Day, for those women who are still waiting for the moment when they will be called “Mom.” That was me, not so very long ago, and I remember.
(Betsy Swenson is a stay-at-home mother to three and contributing writer to the Slidell Independent. She can be reached at email@example.com.)