There are parents without carseats, diapers or pacifiers. Mothers who do not have bedtime rituals or middle of the night feedings. Parents without hand-stamped necklaces or birthstone rings. Parents who no longer have children.
These are the other mothers – the ones in our midst who are quietly hurting.
This Mother’s Day, I could have been the mom of five. My home would have been bursting with preschoolers, toddlers and a baby. I have been pregnant five times, but I didn’t meet two of my children. They joined throngs of other children in heaven that were never held by their parents, babies that were held but didn’t breathe, children whose lives ended before their parents. These are the children I can’t get out of my head. These are the parents I can’t get out of my heart.
Because while carrying a teeny human is no small feat, delivering a healthy babe the most taxing act ever accomplished, and raising children exhaustingly difficult, not doing these things is unbearable.
On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I will wish the parents in my life a happy day with their beautiful families, but in my heart I will quietly celebrate the other mothers. The ones who are living pain in loss. The ones who have yet to carry a baby. The parents of heaven’s children. The women who, with tears glistening, shared the exact date they lost their unmet babies – some 50+ years ago. The parents with empty nurseries and grandchildren without a parent and unmet hopes. The parents whose adoptions fell thru or were reversed. The couples who grieve in secret, telling few. The ones with sacred tokens and mementos – keepsake necklaces, locks of hair, hospital bracelets – because that’s all they got to take home with them.
And truly, these are the mothers I will celebrate on Sunday.
I will be quiet on Mother’s Day. Yes, I will be celebrated, loved, cherished, and I will be absolutely covered in gratitude for my own beautiful miraculous children. But my heart will be with those mamas, grieving with and for them, and for myself. My mind will be caught up with Sam. Kate. Paula. Mary. Amy. Therese. Sally. Diana. Jen. Marcia. and many, many others. It’s not fair, that some women get babies and a day dedicated to celebrating them. It feels unjust, maddening, sad and unfair.
Today I tell you, parents of children who are not in your arms: I remember you on Mother’s Day and you are celebrated.
I celebrate you getting out of bed.
I celebrate you waiting to cry until after your newly pregnant friend leaves.
I celebrate you silently balling up your fist at the complaining of another parent.
I celebrate you enjoying a quiet evening with your partner.
I celebrate you crying in the shower at the overwhelming unfairness.
I celebrate you scrolling thru Facebook, steeling yourself against adorable joyfilled photos of families.
I celebrate you going to church and the park and the grocery store.
I celebrate you enduring tests and procedures and needles.
I celebrate you as you slump on the bathroom floor, allowing yourself to feel defeated once again.
I celebrate you as you remember, holding cherished memories close and longing to hold your child closer.
And as you rise, choosing to do it all again tomorrow, I celebrate you.
I remember your babies. They, and you, are not forgotten. They matter. You matter. And on Mother’s Day, you, mother, will be celebrated.
This post has been edited from several editions found in the archives. I will be reading it tonight at a service our church holds called Unspoken. It’s to give voice to us, the other parents, the ones who have struggled with infertility, pregnancy loss, loss of a child at any age, and the families who love us. If you’re local, you and your stories will be welcomed.