Invisible Mothers & Warriors

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.

invisible motherhood

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.

Arrow 2

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.

bereaved mother

Please feel free to download this image and share with those you know are missing one or more of their children this mothers day.


27 thoughts on “Invisible Mothers & Warriors

    • Robyna says:

      For those that have no living children, I just can’t imagine how hard mothers day is. I also consider myself lucky, but I know we’d both love to have all our children with us on earth. xxx

  1. Bec Senyard says:

    So beautiful Robyna. Mother’s Day can bring up mixed emotions for everyone. It will be hard for my sister-in-law this weekend. No matter how hard motherhood can be, having the chance to mother a child is a precious moment, denied to many. I hope you have a wonderful mother’s day and thoughts are with you as think about your middle child. xx
    Bec Senyard recently posted…The Unglamorous Mum is BeautifulMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I was thinking of your sister in law the other day and wondering how she was. Motherhood is an incredible privilege.

  2. Dani @ sand has no home says:

    I think there should be just the one day too. Where every mother is recognised. I think of my mum, who lost her son when he was 25 and she was only a little older than I am now, this mother who has herself been motherless since the age of 15, and I doubt that I can imagine those places in her heart. I am so grateful for her.

  3. Bron from Flat Bum Mum says:

    You are a beautiful mother Robyna. Thank you for sharing these words about the heartache and loss of not just loosing a child but living with the constant reminders of their life. I am so moved by your stories about Xavier and I will most definitely be thinking of you this mothers day. I am sure your boys will spoil you with all the sticky kisses!!

  4. Collette says:

    This is a beautiful post Robyna. You’re so right, once you’ve lost either your Mother or a child, Mothers Day becomes a bit more layered and not so straight forward. Mothers Day 2013 was the last time I saw my Mum at home – she went to hospital the next day and died a few weeks later. So not only do I miss her on Mothers Day because of what it is, it also represents the beginning of the end for her. So you capture that complexity of emotion by acknowledging it’s not just a Hallmark moment. Thank goodness for my three though, they help me remember the good bits. xx
    Collette recently posted…Slowing Down: Walking the Walk – Not Just Talking the TalkMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Having your own children close while missing your mum is definitely bitter-sweet. Hugs to you for Sunday — I hope your kids spoil you.

  5. Helen K says:

    So beautiful, Robyna. I can’t imagine how you’d be feeling, and I feel really – sad? Teary? Emotional? Still hopeful? – I don’t know, but all the feels for my sister who, many years on snd lots of intervention, still hasn’t been able to fall pregnant. We can feel the door closing, but it hasn’t just yet. Lots of stories there, aren’t there, and love for you all living them xx

  6. Helen K says:

    Beautifully written Robyna – Mothers Day must be tinged with sadness for you, and so many others. A little bitter sweet here too, as it appears my sister won’t be able to have a child of her own (several attempts and interventions haven’t worked, and her age is catching up). So sad – she and her husband would have been lovely parents (and I would have loved being an auntie, but that’s so much less than their issue), but it may not be. Great to celebrate the ones who have never yet been, as well as those lost – all hold a special place, all the same xx
    Helen K recently posted…Mental illness, the workplace and stigmaMy Profile

  7. Carolyn says:

    I remember my mum saying, after the death of my brother, she never knew how many children to say she had. To acknowledge only the living children would be to deny his existence and yet he was no longer physically with us for her to mother. As a mum, myself, I can only imagine the the hole left in the heart of a mother, and father, who have lost a child. And for my friend, and for the student at my daughter’s school, who have lost their mothers in the past week, I know Sunday is going to be a difficult day. Beautiful words, Robyna.

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