On My First Mother’s Day

Dawn Huczek on Flickr

Dawn Huczek on Flickr

I’ve been back and forth on whether today’s post should be about Mother’s Day or National Day of Prayer. So what did I do? Prayed on it. As it turns out, I’m writing about Mother’s Day, because for me it’s so relevant to the topic of prayer.

Last year I didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day. I’m pretty sure I slept until something like noon and then sent Garth out for doughnuts.

It was my first Mother’s Day. And I didn’t have a baby.

I was coming up on the one year mark since my miscarriage, just getting my head above the dark deep waters of depression, and not yet pregnant despite the desire to be. I feared so much that this day would push me back under. I had no desire to cry through the music–as I knew I would–or hear even the shortest message recognizing mothers, even if (especially if?) those who had experienced child loss were included. I had recently broken down and hastily exited two classes, I had already cried in church on less conspicuous days. I needed a day to remember alone. A day, maybe, to mope.

But then Garth came to me in the living room with a plastic bag from the school bookstore. No fancy gift bag, no sentimental card, just the humble bag that proclaimed, “I thought of you, I think of you, I’m trying not to make today harder.”  Inside was a Northwestern Eagle’s sweatshirt in baby size.

He looked nervous as I pulled it from the bag. I read the words “Happy Eagle” on the chest and hugged it.

I didn’t expect the fanfare of my friends with living children or for anyone to reach out and recognize my pain. A few did. But my husband’s gesture was unexpectedly just what I needed.

Someone to say you’re a mother.

Someone to say today I remember with you.

“We’ll put this on our next baby,” I said.

That sweatshirt is waiting in a bin under Clarabelle’s crib until it fits her. Thinking of her wearing it is bittersweet, but so has been every part of being her mom.

Last year I was watching the clock wind down for my chance to get pregnant before my miscarriage anniversary. I didn’t fear an empty womb at that date, but I feared having a baby after my first due date passed.

I thought it would be easier emotionally to have a baby before it would have been possible to have them both. Easier to say, “Well, if I didn’t have a miscarriage I wouldn’t have the baby I have now.” I didn’t want it to be harder.

This year is my first Mother’s Day with a living child. I’m no longer grieving, but I do mourn from time to time. Sure, it’s not likely I’d have Clarabelle had I not miscarried, but it could have been possible. This year I could have had a one year old and a newborn.

But it’s not as hard. I get to celebrate as Clarabelle’s mom. I get to remember that last year’s chapter is closed yet still part of my story.

This year I will go to church with my husband’s family and then go out for lunch with my baby. I’ll smile and laugh, and they won’t be forced.

And bittersweet as it is, I’m happy to be Clarabelle’s mommy. I’m honored. Humbled.

My heart goes out to any mother who can’t celebrate Mother’s Day. If you know one of these precious, grieving women, be there for her. It’s hard to know what to say, I know. You can’t say happy Mother’s Day, because it’s anything but happy. Say, “I remember.” Say, “You count too, and I recognize it’s hard, but you do.” Say, “How can I pray for you?” and then do it.

Motherhood is hard, the long suffering women raising their children deserve a day of spoilment. But for those denied that opportunity, remember to give them dignity. Because they have the heart of a mother, after all. It’s broken, so take care.

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