Mother's Day has not been one of my favorite days. I spent too many years trying to become a mom, only to discover I could not be a mom. Then I cheated. I adopted. I adopted older kids because I didn't want to be on a seven-year waiting list for a baby. The kids grew up. Things aren't perfect. And Mother's Day often has been a difficult pill for me to swallow.
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my mom. I try to make my own personal Mother's Day hers, even if we cannot be together. (We live far apart.) Sitting in church all those early years while other women who got to be moms got roses was just about the most painful thing I could imagine, at the time. That was before back surgery. I've since decided I think I'd rather sit in church and not get a flower.
Then the adopted kids went on unauthorized field trips, leaving a wake of pain. This was worse than never being able to have a baby. This was worse than back surgery. I'd rather have back surgery than... well, I've always said I will not spread my kids' challenges in the wind like dandelion seeds. They have enough issues of their own without me publicizing things. Suffice it to say I'd rather go through ten surgeries than live through 2002 and 2003 again.
So I ditch church on Mother's Day. It's a tradition now. Even though most churches now try to be sensitive to those in the congregation who may not be as Mother's Day-blissful. One of the ways I've seen it handled is to give roses to ALL women in the congregation, with no mention of the M-word. I did try that one year. I stood. I accepted a rose. And then I cried. Long and hard. So I gave up on Mother's Day for me.
I try to go somewhere with no reminders of the day. Total wilderness. No cell signal, no billboards or commercials, no phones. That way, I don't sit by a phone all day, wasting precious time, waiting for a call that isn't going to come. And I'm not disappointed when it doesn't.
I am married to the most incredible man in the world. He understands. He lets me call the shots. He makes sure it's okay to "celebrate" before he "celebrates" and knows I don't feel forgotten if I ask him to "skip it" any given year. (I'm addicted to flowers and plants, and it has taken a while, but, thanks to him, I've learned gifts of flowers can be a miraculously healing thing!)
(Oh, and BICYCLE PLANTERS!!! Even better than flowers!!! Mama mia!!!)
I read a suggestion once for women like me, women who don't get the chance to be birth moms. If Mother's Day is too painful for us, we should try focusing on our own mothers or grandmothers or even a friend we love who is a mother. I do that, and I try to do it well in advance so I can ignore the week when the holiday arrives. Just pretend it never really happened.
Until Mother's Day night.
My mom understands how I feel, too. It has never felt okay to skip her. Even though she knows how I feel and talks to me before and after, it doesn't feel right to miss that connection with her on what is a very special day for her. As a result, over the years, I've grown more... mature, I guess. I enjoy getting home from wherever in time to call her and hear about her special day. On her special day.
Then something happened that forced me to stop thinking about me on Mother's Day. My husband's brother died. Losing a child that way is on a whole different playing field than a child running away.
My mother-in-law gave birth to just two children, her two sons. It would be unfair of me to keep her surviving child away from her on a day that already is difficult. I have not lost a child to death, but my mom has. Two of them. I do not know the pain of a child dying before the parent. But I know the pain of a younger sibling dying before the older sibling. Twice.
So... I still ditch church on Mother's Day, but I don't ditch Mother's Day. I'm very grateful my mother-in-law brought my husband into the world and raised him to be such a considerate companion, and I look forward to showing her my gratitude.
Actually, I'm grateful God continually gives me opportunities to think of someone else instead of myself.
And that's what moms do, right? Moms like me.