Every year Mother’s Day rolls around, I can’t help from remembering two experiences relating to the day and celebration of motherhood. They were both little things with BIG impact on my life. I’m sure they stick out in my memory because of my unique and arduous journey to motherhood. Mother’s Day is extremely painful for those who find the desire of motherhood just beyond their grasp. At times that pain seemed unbearable and the loneliness all consuming. But my rainbow was there, I just had to weather the storms. Now Mother’s Day fills my heart with joy over all the little things. They don’t replace the memories of hurt but they have certainly helped to displace them and restore balance in my life.
The first “little thing” fell on Mother’s Day. On this particular year I was proud of myself for making it through the church service without shedding a tear and without focusing on the things I didn’t have. Years of experience on this day had caused me to not want to even go to church on Mother’s Day. But this year I was needed by some of the sweet little children I worked with who were to sing for their mothers that day. So I went. I was so proud of them for the great job they’d done. I couldn’t help but think about the wonder of the word Mother and how many ways so many women share this gift with those around them regardless of personal circumstance. Maybe this was to be my role of mothering. So proud that I was focusing on the positives and not the negatives, I was ready to give myself a pat on the back. Little did I know the next hurdle was already on the horizon.
It was customary for all the mothers in our congregation to receive a token gift on Mother’s Day to honor them and show thanks. Usually it was a potted flower and generally the gesture is appreciated by all mother’s. But I had come to dread this moment. Something intended to be wonderful was nothing more than a sore and hollow reminder of my childless status. This year the leaders (whom I both knew personally and had shared my eagerness and heartache over the delayed blessings of motherhood with) were standing at the exit doors handing out flowers to the mothers as they filed out of the chapel. As I made my way to the doors I was handed a flower. I remember the short discussion over it not having a bloom but a bud ready to blossom. I thought how appropriate it was given my circumstances, but my endeavor to be positive was about to obliviated. I had not taken more than two steps away when I heard him turn to the other at his side and say, “Oh wait, she’s not a mom. Maybe I should get that back.”
I felt like someone had hit me with a blast of liquid nitrate and I was instantly frozen into a completely immovable state. I wanted to run but couldn’t, to speak yet couldn’t find words. I couldn’t even breathe. Every aspect of my being felt immobile, yet I was keenly aware of what was going on around me. As the initial wave of shock wore off I felt a deep surge of heat – an anger that came from my toes and washed over me with force. I was past the shock and I was mad. The hurt would hit later but right now I was livid. It was all I could do to keep myself from turning on my heels and tell him if that’s what he thought of me and Mother’s Day he could keep his (fill in the blank) flower! Not very lady like I know and certainly not the type of thoughts or behavior for a church setting but it was sure how I felt. It took every ounce of control I could muster to continue walking. With each step the swallowed rage churned in my stomach giving way to despair. Those simple little words leveled me. He would never know the size or scope of the wound his ignorance had administered.
Fast forward a couple years. We were returning home from Arkansas with our new baby girl. She was only a couple weeks old and we had a 3 day drive ahead of us. While at a restaurant one evening, I would experience another extreme moment of emotions. This time it came at the hands of a sweet toddler and her mother in the women’s restroom. This time however, it would be a most sweet and wonderful thing.
I had taken Cidnie in for a diaper change when a mother brought in her exuberant little toddler. The girl was full of questions and non stop talking. The mother was trying desperately to still her some in the loud bathroom that echoed and amplified all sounds and voices. I was giggling to myself at the common and basic questions she was posing to her somewhat flustered mother (little did I know how well I’d learn this side of the fence with my own daughter in coming years.) But the one that struck my heart was her asking who I was and why I had a baby. The mother’s reply rang in my ears and echoed in my heart where it lives alive and well even these 10 years later: “Well, she’s a mother and that’s her baby.”
The water works were instant. Controlling the sounds of sobs was beyond difficult. I had waited so many years to hear those simple words. Something about hearing them spoken from another person made it real to me, I was finally a mother. My husband must have thought I was losing it big time when I returned to the table an emotional mess. Moreover to only have the simple explanation of something said by someone I didn’t even know, something that was so simple – perhaps even seemingly insignificant, as the reason for my loss of control couldn’t have been all that reassuring.
Two diametrically opposed experiences with a common thread of “little things” done or said that have deep impact on the lives of others. Motherhood is so much more than bearing children. It is a divine right of every woman and whether she bears children or not she is in every way a mother – giving, loving, serving and caring for all those around her in ways that only a woman’s heart can. How grateful I am for every mother heart that has lifted, enlightened and supported me in my lifetime. This goes out to every mother this Mother’s Day regardless of personal circumstance. May your day and your “little things” be as wonderful as you are and as uplifting as the very spirit of what mother means.
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