Much like being a mom, Mother’s Day can be complicated. The day can be overshadowed by ideals that you can’t achieve. My path to becoming a Mom was not an easy road. After years of trying to become a mom, I began to detest Mother’s Day. It reminded me that behind a locked door in my house there was an empty baby bed. People around me tried to offer comfort, but there was no comfort for what I had lost. My soul was filled with longing- a longing for what I did not have and what I could not control, despite my best efforts. Years later when God smiled on me and blessed me with a bundle of joy (he literally was), I was elated to finally participate in Mother’s Day as a mom. I remember traveling on my first Mother’s Day to see my brother graduate from college. My newly adopted son was only 3 months old and the trip was hard. The night before Mother’s Day he cried all night in an Arkansas hotel room. I remember thinking the next day, “Wow this is not how I thought it would be”. Becoming a parent, getting married, getting a new job, or starting a homestead all are never quite how we think they will be. However, there have been many days that I have squeezed all three of my boys and been incredibly thankful that they call me Mom. As I learned how to be a mom, I also learned more about my wonderful boys. All three of my sons are adopted. When I first planned to adopt, I was driven by the empty baby bed. I kept thinking, “I will become a mom and my pain will be gone.” There was a lot about being an adoptive mom I did not understand. I didn’t understand that there would be pain even in our adoptions. I didn’t know that there would be hard days and hard questions. I honestly had not thought about the pain the birthmothers would feel as they were handing over their babies to me. God blessed me with a friendship that changed my thoughts and heart, when a beautiful woman shared her personal pain of choosing adoption with me. I grew to realize that Mother’s Day would be complicated forever for the three women who gave birth to my beautiful sons. I also learned that even though my boys love me deeply as their mom, there is no erasing their birthmother. I have never tried to erase them, but I wasn’t prepared for the questions and the pain that would come along as my boys grew up. I naively thought that if I read them enough sweet story books about adoption, and talked openly with them about their wonderful personal stories, there would be no pain. So I learned being an adoptive mom was beautiful, rewarding, and my calling, but not without pain.
So Mother’s Day became a day I tried to reflect and be thankful. My mom and I usually planned to spend the day together. We often planted flowers, ate take out (because going out to eat on Mother’s Day is stressful), and just enjoyed being together. After the loss of my mom, Mother’s Day has taken on another level of grief. Sadly, our family tragedy happened just days before Mother’s Day. So every year I face the anniversary of the accident alongside Mother’s Day. I am reminded during these times of the strength my mom tried to teach and instill in me. I watched her live her life and deal with disappointment, hurt and loss. She didn’t always handle things well, and there were times she had a hard time getting out of bed. But my mom never gave up. I saw her cry, I saw her get mad, and I saw her heal. She always said, “If you feel bad, get up and work, then you will feel better”. My mom loved to work, she cooked, sewed, weeded, painted, mowed, weedeat, and the list goes on. My mantra is not the same, because I am not my mom and that is ok. After the accident, I thought a lot about the heritage that both my parents had left me. One of the things I kept returning to was the choice to go on, not move on, but to go on. So for the last five years, sometimes daily, I have made the choice to go on. My going on looks different from day to day. Some days it means I go on and I cry about the pain of missing my parents, the pain of my children missing their grandparents, and the damage it has done to my family. Some days my going on looks like me pulling weeds and remembering how hard my mom worked on her yard and garden. Some days it looks like me telling stories to keep my parent’s memories alive and laughing at the joy of a wonderful history. Some days going on looks like me living in the moment, celebrating my boys’ milestones or successes, and being thankful that I am present and a mom.
The longer I live the more stories I encounter. People share with me the struggles of being a mom and the grief that often comes with struggle. I have met mom’s who have struggled with who their children have become, the loss of a child, and many more things that can make Mother’s Day complicated. Mother’s are incredibly important to everyone, whether they had a wonderful mom or she failed to meet their needs. Mothers shape who you are. My husband who is a retired correctional officer told me the busiest visiting days in prison were Christmas and Mother’s Day. The mom visiting her son in prison is surely having a complicated Mother’s Day. I will be honest. As my boys’ grow up and learn how to be men, the road is not always smooth. There are times when I think, “Wow, this is not how I thought it would be”. However, I would not change or exchange any of those moments for the pain of the empty baby bed. So on Mother’s Day, I will make a choice to be thankful for things I have had, the people I still have, and hopeful for things to come. Bless the mom who mourns an empty cradle, a broken heart and broken dreams.
Gives the childless wife a home, the joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!