Do you do this too? When you see the post on Facebook that says “Blessed mamma” or “God trusted me with…” or “I get to do the most important job in the world” do you actually hear “You’re not blessed” or “God doesn’t trust you with…” or “Your life/purpose doesn’t matter?”
Ouch, right? Guilty.
I so desperately don’t want to be pitied.
However, every Mother’s Day I am kind of pitiful. I weave in and out of deep sorrow and bravery. There is no way around this one, Mother’s Day is hard. Can I get a witness? Even when you’re completely and insanely happy, for the childless, this day is polarizing. Nobody wants to feel different. Nobody wants to be reminded of empty arms and quiet homes. Nobody wants to feel alone.
But, before I go on, I must say this. For all the mothers out there, I don’t want you to read this and think you can’t dote on your children and celebrate whole-heartedly on this day. You are cherished and brave and you deserve this. I grew up with a wonderful Mother, one who always cared deeply about my true feelings and gave me the belief that how I felt mattered. She is why I can stand here today and say: Today sucks. I also grew up with five strong, beautiful, and maternal Aunts. Some are mothers of their own, some struggle with my same story, but all of them I consider mine. I am so thankful for that starting five. They all played an integral role in my upbring. Because #ittakesavillage. We, the childless, celebrate moms.
This post, however, is a word for you. The one out there that has stumbled upon this post desperately searching for strength and needing to feel affirmed. The one that knows this struggle all too well. (Hey, cutie). We can’t control the world, THAT much has been made perfectly clear in our lives. I wish I could stop all those comments on Facebook, I wish I could make your Instagram feed comforting. I wish I could literally grab you up in my arms and hug you. I wish that we could get together and feel normal together.
I can’t. And that makes me insatiably sad. We have a tough road. It has been ingrained in us that what matters most of all in life is children. I grew up with plastic baby dolls that I fed with fake bottles and strolled around the neighborhood with flimsy pink plastic strollers. I was told that the greatest joy in life was to grow up, get married, and start a family. How many times did I do the math telling me the age I would be when my kids graduated if …? My husband and I have had countless talks about when our kids will be allowed to date, how will we handle puberty, and who will hand out the discipline. Yet, here we are.
And it’s not just externally ingrained. My thighs hold extra fat as a storage for bearing life. I have parts that are meant to feed and are now… just cosmetic. I have instincts that I cannot explain. I am reminded, in pain, every month that I am and continue to be, childless. I have hips that protrude for caring. I have built-in fears that are there for me to protect a toddler from danger. This is grief at the most biological level.
I really can’t help you. I have no magic word, no incantation or essential oil that can fix this. What I can do is tell you: What you do is valuable. You have been trusted with this story. You matter.
What I do is valuable. I have been trusted with this story. I matter.
And this, being our third Mother’s Day after deciding to TTC*, I wanted to share with you what has helped me get through this difficult day.
How to Survive Mother’s Day for the Childless
Don’t Do Social Media
Don’t go on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. Put down your phone and slowly back away. Put it under lock and key if you have to, do not go into that dangerous space that has no place in our hurting hearts. You don’t need to read that, you don’t need to post anything, you don’t need to like anyone’s post, and you don’t even have to acknowledge the moms in your life there. Call your people, and tell them that you love them. That means more, anyway.
Do Something You love
Make this day special. Go out to breakfast. Enjoy a hike. Eat that food that is not on your diet plan. Listen to me dear, take care of yourself. Leave for the weekend. Bake your favorite cookies. Grab a coffee and spend hours in the Book Bin.
Don’t Make Yourself Go
Don’t go to Church. Don’t go to that get-together. Don’t feel obligated to be in desolation for other’s sake. Whoa Karlee, stop right there, now you’re talking crazy. Ladies, I’m not. Recognize your triggers. I cannot be looked at with mournful eyes. I cannot have people second guessing what they just said to me and looking at me like I’m a nuclear bomb just about to explode. When you start to feel guilty for missing these things remember: The ones that truly love you don’t want you to suffer for their gain.
Do Spend Time with Your Person
If you have one, spend time with your significant other. If you are childless together, then be together. Hear me on this: BE TOGETHER. Do not let this place a wedge between you two. Stay with me, I’m about to drop a bomb. Everyone grieves differently. Listen to them, let them stay quiet, take them seriously, laugh at their jokes. If I give you anything today, it is this: What you lack in time with children you gain in the bounty of time to be with each other. BE TOGETHER.
Don’t Linger on the Pain
Don’t focus on what you don’t have but celebrate, always celebrate what you do have. Focus on those things on this day. Make a long list of everything you are thankful for. From the big things to the smallest of details. I am so incredibly thankful for the sound of a lawn mower on a sunny day. I am also in awe of the person I get to spend my life with. Be thankful.
Take it easy on yourself. If, even after all this, you still cry, that’s okay. Don’t ever try to hide or disguise your feelings. If what you truly need on this day is to grieve, then grieve. If what you truly need is to be around people, then be around people. If you need to talk it out, find a safe person. If you just need to take an hour-long bath with Lush Bath Bombs, then load up, sweetie. You own this day too.
For all you lovely women with beautiful children reading this post to the very end, desperately trying to understand because you want to love on your friend in the same boat, thank you. Being a friend to us is probably hard. I know that. We appreciate you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, but in particular, to my Mom, Karen. Happy Mother’s Day to all my Aunts, to both my grandmas (Hi, Grandma Rita and G-ma Sherrill!). Happy Mother’s Day to my suegra**. Happy Mother’s Day to my very best girlfriends who make motherhood look easy! I love you.
Finally, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms at heart, big sisters, godmothers and role models. Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers in grief, mothers of addicts, mothers of loss, mothers of miscarriage, mothers waiting in adoption. I see you.
*trying to conceive