A little over three years ago I knelt before a row of flickering candles in a church I didn’t belong to and said goodbye to a baby I didn’t have. A baby who had lived inside me for nine short weeks. Whom I’d loved. Whose future I’d begun to plan. Whose little beating heart had begun to claim mine. But who was gone. I wasn’t going to be a mother after all.
This Sunday, I will join the ranks of mothers everywhere eating burned toast in bed, accepting amorphous hand-made gifts, and sipping tea at the Mother’s Day brunch option at our local bistro. And I’ll love every minute of it. I’ll look around at all the other moms, young and old, and their myriad children, young and old, and feel an overwhelming sense of belonging. Here I finally am, I will think. A mother.
And the gratitude at this complete reversal of fortune, this miracle that took a broken heart and made it whole, includes within it (can’t help but include within it) an awareness of all the other mothers who aren’t invited to the brunch. The mothers who never met their babies. Who, because their arms are empty, don’t qualify for this particular holiday.
We recognize so many different kinds of moms. Adoptive moms. Single moms. Foster moms. Grandmas who mother their grandchildren. Moms whose children have died. Mother figures who come into our lives later on. Sisters who care for us when our parents cannot. And so many others. Is it too much to ask that we include mothers who’ve lost their babies before they were born? I mean, it’s pretty much a Hallmark holiday anyway. What would be the harm?
So if, this Mother’s Day, the cards, and flowers, and random things that have turned pink, serve only as a cruel reminder of what you’ve lost and what you’re not, know this: you are one of us. You performed the ultimate selfless act of letting another human being use your body so it could live. And the fact that it didn’t live long, that it couldn’t stay, doesn’t make that act any less the act of a mom.
The love you felt for that little beating heart, isn’t any less the love of a mother. The dreams you dreamt for who your child would become, weren’t any less the dreams of a mom. The worries you had about whether you’d be a good mother, the fear that gripped you in the night when you thought you might not be able to do this, weren’t any less a mother’s fears. Your heart isn’t any less a mother’s heart.
You may not want to come to the brunch. (I would understand if you didn’t.) But you’re welcome here. You may not want a saccharine pink greeting card. But you deserve one. You may not want a bouquet of tulips, or a potted geranium. But you’re entitled to both. This is your holiday too.
I’m not going to tell you your day will come. Because, the reality is, it might not. I don’t know what your future holds, and nor do you. Only God knows that. But I do know that now, in this moment, just as you are, you belong at the moms table.
Wherever you are this Mother’s Day, whoever you are, whatever your story, I’ll be thinking of you. Sending you my love. Praying for your little ones. And for mine. From one mother to another: Happy Mother’s Day.