Mothers day is fast approaching. A day to be filled with burnt toast, sticky kisses and hand-drawn cards. A day to let my own mother and grandmother know how much I love them. A day for hearts bursting and hearts aching. My middle son will be in my thoughts more often than he usually is. He always will be on days like this.
My head and my heart will will be full of him but I will be thinking about other women too. On days like this I always do.
Women who have said good-bye too early to their children. Women who no longer have their own mothers close. Women who have only ever held living babies in their womb. Women who ache to be mothers but life hasn’t given them the option. Women who are closing the window on what once seemed like an inevitability. Women whose children are living but estranged, struggling in a strange world of complicated grief. Women who are estranged from their own mothers. Whatever wedge is driven between a mother’s heart and the child she longs for — I know that mothers day won’t be easy for us.
I wonder what to call this group of women. A group with almost infinite numbers. Heart-broken? Survivors? Warriors? Invisible?
My heart goes out to all of them. To all of us. Particularly mothers with no living children. The mothers who feel forgotten by a day drenched in Hallmark sentiments. The mothers who deal in invisible motherhood. Who have to shout at the world – “I have a son, I have a daughter”. And all too often their voice is left riding on the wind. Unheard.
Those warrior mothers whose children’s names are tattooed on their hearts and sometimes their bodies. An indelible tribute to unyielding love. It is my hope that this mothers day they will be recognised. That someone will say “thank you for being a mother”. Because it can feel a thankless thing — invisible motherhood that feels so very one-way. Always struggling for connection. Always fighting for acknowledgement. Always aware of your child and even more acutely aware of their absence. Wanting to acknowledge your baby for no other reason than wanting to share your baby. And having that interpreted as unhealthy grief or not getting on with life.
For so many reasons I was grateful for my eldest son when Xavier passed away. Not least that he was someone physical to mother. Tangible proof of motherhood.
There are those that will tread carefully around mothers day. Who will wonder if it’s too painful a day to remember the children we cannot embrace. It is painful. But there are few days on the calendar that allow the pain to surface and to be acknowledged. It is an opportunity. A day to recognise all mothers. Even the ones that don’t fit into the Hallmark mould. Especially the ones that are too often forgotten.
Last Sunday was Bereaved Mothers Day. A day dedicated to those mothers who have experienced the loss of their children. I understand the need and the impetus for a day separate to mothers day, but I would rather have one day to celebrate all of our motherhood — perfect and imperfect, whole and broken and all of it true and important. I know that this is what Carly Marie wants to have happen eventually — but I believe we can make that a reality now.