If we’re to believe the images we see in the TV commercials, Mother’s Day is a joy to all women. Their children shower them with gifts, Hallmark cards, and breakfast in bed, and the whole family gathers to honor the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Picture little girls in frilly dresses hugging their moms and grand-moms. Picture big picnics, feasts at a big dining room table, or gatherings at a favorite restaurant. Picture flowers and cards, and the whole world wishing you a happy Mother’s Day because you, the mother, deserve it.
Yeah. Now picture what it’s really like for many of us. First, our mothers may be dead or terminally ill or we don’t get along. The holiday emphasizes the fact that we don’t have a mother to honor. Second, we don’t all have children. We go to church and feel left out when special prayers are said for the mothers. We go out to eat, and the waiter assumes we’re mothers, but we’re not. We go to a family gathering and feel left out because we’re the only ones without kids. We wait all day for some kind of acknowledgement from our stepchildren, and it doesn’t happen. Everywhere we look, people are talking about Mother’s Day, and it makes us feel like crap.
For those who are mothers, congratulations. Enjoy your day. For the rest of us, if we can focus on the moms in our lives, that’s a great thing to do. If you just can’t, run away until it’s over. It’s a good day to turn off the TV, stay away from Facebook, and avoid going to restaurants. How about a hike, a walk on the beach, or a movie instead?
I’ll be playing music for two Masses at church and then going to my monthly song circle. In between, I’ll probably have lunch with a friend who hates Mother’s Day as much as I do. Her mother, like mine, has died. She has adult children, but their relationship is rocky. So I’ll pretty much do what I usually do on Sundays, and I’ll enjoy it.
Over the years, Mother’s Day has gotten easier for me. It will for you, too, I promise. Try not to get yourself all upset about it. If you need a good cry, go ahead and cry. Then move on. It’s just one day.
[Sue Fagalde Lick is part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. ]
“Are You Grieving Over Your Lack of Children?” is the headline of the blog I posted here on Nov. 7, 2007. Since August 2007, I have published 366 other posts at this site, but that is the one that has drawn the most views–6873–and the most comments–152. Most people get to it by a Google search. I’m thinking they’re searching through tears because the key word is “grief.” It hurts to want children and not be able to have them, especially when it seems to be a normal part of life for everyone around you. You see other people cuddling babies and it hurts. You see your friends and sisters getting pregnant and it hurts. You see a child laboring over a Mother’s Day card for his mom, and it hurts. You see an older woman going out to lunch with her daughter and granddaughter, and it hurts. I know. I feel that pain, too.
The comments keep coming in for that post, as well as for many others. People, mostly women, write to me in crisis. In so many cases, they thought they would have children with their spouse or partner, but now he/she is saying no, they don’t want to do it. Maybe they already have children from a previous marriage and feel that’s enough. Maybe they’ve had a vasectomy. Maybe one or both people have fertility issues. Maybe they just didn’t get serious about it until they were in their 40s and now it’s too late. Often, the writer, again usually a woman, is having to make an impossible choice: the man she loves or the children she’s always wanted.
I’m not a psychologist or marriage counselor; I’m a writer. I know a lot about this subject because of my own experiences and a boatload of research. I include much of that research as well as my own story in my Childess by Marriage book. I continue to collect all the information I can about all aspects of life without children and will share as much as I can. I offer my love and prayers in the hope that we can all find peace with what feels like a hole in our lives. If we can help dry each other’s tears and ease each other’s grief, then this blog is worthwhile.
Thank you all for being here. Keep coming back.