Transforming Mother’s Day
When I was a kid, Mother’s Day was all about my mom. Our family would do something nice for her and then I wouldn’t give it another thought until next year. When I was a young single adult, Mother’s Day was still the same but with the thought of: maybe I’ll be a mother soon. I don’t know that I would have had those thoughts at 18 or 19 years old except that on Mother’s Day, every woman 18 years and older is honored on Mother’s Day at church (or at least in every family ward I’ve been in). It felt awkward back then, being single and not yet out on my own, to accept the candy or flower that was passed out in church on Mother’s Day as I had no children. But I expected that in a few years I would have “earned” the gifts and honor paid to the women on Mother’s Day by having children of my own. Little did I know back then that I would never achieve the status of mother, at least not in the way it is traditionally defined. My first Mother’s Day after getting married was painful. My husband and I had been married almost a year with no luck at starting a family. I found the Mother’s Days after that to be even more painful as the years dragged on and almost all the women my age that I knew were having one baby, then maybe another, and sometimes more.
I started skipping church on Mother’s Days. Most of the talks and lessons on that day honored mothers and talked about their importance. I felt as though Mother’s Day was rubbing salt in the wound. It was very hard to cope with infertility the rest of the year but it was especially difficult on that day. One year, I decided I was going to church on Mother’s Day. I had fears and doubts about going but I went anyway. On this year, Mother’s Day was so different from the previous years. A woman that I don’t know gave a talk during Sacrament Meeting. She told the congregation her story, which was shockingly similar to mine. She and her husband had tried for years to have a baby. She expressed her feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, her sadness, and her anger at not being able to “multiply and replenish the earth”. I felt that I had found a kindred spirit. I was amazed that she had been asked to tell her story on this day – Mother’s Day. This was not the typical talk that I had heard in church on Mother’s Day. I was so grateful that she had been chosen to share her story with the congregation because I feel that many people just don’t get it. They don’t understand the emotions and baggage that go along with infertility. But now some of them do.
That day helped me look at Mother’s Day differently. I am a mother, perhaps not in the way the world defines it, but I have five sweet dogs at home who I consider my kids. I may not be able to compare pregnancy experiences or do play dates with the others moms, but that’s ok. I am still a mother. I feed my pups and buy them toys. I take them to the park for walks and to the doctor when they are sick. So I’ll keep going to church on Mother’s Day-because I’m a mother too.