Today is Mother’s Day and I am rising above my sadness. Two years ago, I was sure that I would be well into being a mom by now. Last year, I thought it was still a possibility. This year, I am at peace with not being a mother, but I dreaded the day. There are no greeting cards or brunches for the “almost” mothers.
There are moments where I feel the absence of a child acutely. The other morning, while walking Rabito, a little boy was in the park with his mom. “Mommy…mommy…mommy,” he said. His mother said, “Yes, love?”, and I felt the loss deep in my belly. You could hear that she was his universe – that she was the sun and moon to him – in the way he called to her. To know that I am not going to be on the other end of that love is sometimes painful. Not always, not usually, but sometimes.
It has been less than a year since Tom and I decided not to pursue adoption, and it has been a journey of acceptance that continues to unfold. I am so grateful that we went through the process and tried to become parents because, though it didn’t end up the way we thought, we bared our hearts to the Universe. To want something so much, to love a phantom, to dive into the unknown — these were gifts from Spirit. And to not break down or break up when the phantom didn’t become a reality and the dive was into dark, thick helplessness made us better partners and nicer human beings in the long(er) run.
There were a few months where I couldn’t look at parents walking down the street with their children, and in my baby-filled neighborhood, that was a problem. It seemed so unfair – so arbitrary – when I passed a heavily pregnant woman pushing a stroller holding a sleepy toddler, strolling next to her husband who was holding the hand of an adorable four year old going to dance class. Why her? Meanwhile, Tom and I had our little girl waiting for us in an orphanage in Moscow, but Putin had made it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian children, so we couldn’t go get her. And later attempts to adopt domestically felt forced and fake and not right. We had our daughter and she was taken from us before we got to love her. I was filled with resentment and envy and didn’t think to ask Spirit for help.
The good news is that Spirit doesn’t particularly care. Help is there. I didn’t get over my resentment, but I accepted it. It was unfair. It was arbitrary. It was also the path I was walking, and after a while, wanted to stop fighting. I had every reason to be resentful, but no business holding onto it. What good does envy do, out in the world? What good does bitterness do for a marriage? A friendship? Unbeknownst to me, Spirit planted the seeds of change inside my furrowed head. Lately, instead of wishing I was the mom, I try to be more supportive of the moms around me. I let myself laugh when I overhear a funny thing a kid says on the subway. I ask, “Do you have kids?” at cocktail parties — something I never did before because I didn’t want to have to answer the inevitable, “Do you?”
And that brings me to today. Mother’s Day. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I want to celebrate the women who rise as moms every day, those who continue the struggle to try and become moms and those who have found peace in childlessness. We can all shine by showing compassion for the others, whose journeys are different than our own and live the lives we may not have seen coming but have been gifted.