Holidays & Infertility

Infertility on Mother’s Day: What is a Mom?

Hey everyone! Sorry it has taken me so long to post…you see, this weekend is a big deal for me, so I have taken some time to reflect and carefully express what I’m feeling this Mother’s Day weekend. A few weeks ago, I explained why Easter is such a hard time of year in my blog post Open your eyes and believe – struggling with infertility on Easter. Well, this post is going to hopefully shed light on the most difficult day of the year for me and my struggles – Mother’s Day.

Around this time of year, advertisements shift to videos and photos of young women and their toddlers sharing hugs, handmade cards, and of course some lovely gift they purchased at Kohl’s, where you get 30% off this weekend only! The stores are filled with sentimental wall hangings, jewelry, and cards, all filled with phrases reaffirming how wonderful a gift it is to be a mother. On Sunday, places will hand out flowers to moms or moms-to-be…or maybe your brunch is free if you’re a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I think all of those things are important and are validated and frankly, amazing! But another part of me is reminded that I do not belong to this exclusive club. There is not a “want to be but can’t be a mother’s day” or a “still waiting to be a mother’s day” or “great auntie but not a mother’s day.” I know it might seem selfish, but I want two little hands to give me an illegible card with gobs of glitter and dried macaroni designs…I want the coffee mug that says “World’s Best Mom”…I want a free brunch and a flower at church! That being said, it isn’t about the promotions or gifts, it’s about the symbolism behind them – it’s about being a part of the Mom Club.

I truly believe that being a mom is an identity and a purpose given to you in life by the big man upstairs. In my soul, I know that I am supposed to be a mom…in fact, I feel like I already am a mom, but without the physical manifestation of a child yet. I am someone who loves unconditionally, puts others first, and appreciates life (and I hope that’s what others see in me too!). I know I have the qualities necessary to be a good mom, maybe even a great one. I’m at the right place in my life to be a mom. All of my ducks are in a row…but it just isn’t your time yet, says God…OKAY…So this Mother’s Day, I’m taking a new perspective…

If you look at the definition of a mother, you might find this:

noun
noun: mother; plural noun: mothers – a woman in relation to her child/children; to give birth to
But you might also find this:
verb
look after kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.
I may not fit the definition of mother as a noun, but I do fit the definition of mother as a verb. And really, I would argue, you can’t just be the noun – you have to be the verb too, in order to truly be a mother. It isn’t enough to bring a child into the world – you also have to love, care for, and protect him or her. To be a mother is not simply the act of giving birth to a child; to be a mother is to love unconditionally and be selfless. And although I do not have my own children, I have my fur baby, Reggie…I have my precious niece, Vivi…I have plenty of my friends’ children and babies…all of whom I love and would do anything to protect.
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What I have more importantly come to realize, is how much to appreciate my mom…not just for the fact that she (and my dad) have raised me, provided for me, and sacrificed for me…but also for the journey it took for her to become a mom. When you’re a kid, you never imagine what life was like for your parents before your existence…it’s as if time began when you were born and your parents’ entire focus has been on you. My journey with infertility has opened a new line of communication with my own mom…for almost 30 years, I had never actually had the conversation about what it was like for my mom to have me or my brother, Aaron. It wasn’t until I had called her crying (for probably the 100th time), that she shared with me her struggles…she shared what it was like to have a miscarriage while other family members were having babies at the time she would have had her first baby…what it was like to hold those babies while still feeling the pain of losing her own…and it made me feel really sad. I mean, how could I have never asked my own mom what her journey to becoming a mom was like? Why did it take my own pain and struggles before I asked her? Knowing what I know now, I have a whole new love and respect for my mom, above what I already had for her…
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So, this Mother’s Day, here’s the bottom line:
First, if you’re already a mom, please realize how amazing of a job you have – appreciate every dirty diaper, every grass-stained pair of jeans, and every sleepless night…because there is a line of women who would give anything to do what you do and have what you have.
Second, if you aren’t a mom (noun), realize you’re still a mom (verb). Continue to love unconditionally and be selfless, because that’s who you are and that’s what makes you a great person…a great aunt…a great friend…you may not have a child, but your ability to love and care for others does not go unnoticed.
Third, if you haven’t already, talk to your own mom. Get to know the person she was before she was a mom…you might be surprised and humbled by what you hear. I guarantee you will have a whole new perspective on Mother’s Day…Because what I am discovering myself, is that the journey you take to become a mom defines you just as much as the act of giving birth. And however that journey ends, either in sadness or in happiness…either smooth or with bumps (or mountains) along the way, if you truly believe you are meant to be a mom, you already are one…it just might not be in the traditional way you expected.
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This Mother’s Day, you might have a mug that says “mom”…or like me, you might not…and if you don’t, trust me – I am celebrating you just as much as my own mom – I’m respecting your struggles and your strength. I’m celebrating your courage and your selflessness. Because what I have come to realize is Mother’s Day isn’t just about flowers and presents and cards…it isn’t only about those amazing women who are blessed to have given birth to a child…it’s about celebrating women who love unconditionally, put others above themselves, and protect the ones they love…so I celebrate all of those women this weekend, whether your coffee mug says “mom” or not.
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**Please take the time to read this article written about the support group for infertility through the RESOLVE project that I became a part of: Group Helps Women with Infertility and Its Stresses. If you or someone you know is struggling this Mother’s Day, urge them to reach out and find strength in this group!