I have a confession to make.
It's a dark, shameful confession. I hope you're sitting down.
I like Hallmark Holidays.
Go ahead, roll your eyes, I know. There is absolutely no logical reason why a couple should be nicer to each other on February 14 than on February 13. I know that. I don't care. I like the reminder to do something nice, the excuse to get dressed up and eat a fancy meal with someone I love. Sure, we could (and sometimes do!) do that anyway. I'm lucky to be married to a guy who also likes such holidays (honestly, more than even I do) and never lets me down. And I like it.
However, there is one exception - Mother's Day. Mother's Day is an enigma to me. Three years ago, I wrote about my discomfort with being both a motherless child and a childless mother. Obviously, part of that is now... let's say "resolved." When the lady at the grocery store asks me if I have children, I no longer hedge or stutter. Oh, ooh, pick me! Pick me! I know the answer! When they ask how many kids I have, I quickly reply, "one." I still blanch a little, knowing the full answer is "two in heaven, one in my arms" but I feel okay with my answer because I do currently HAVE one child. I'll see the other two again in heaven, but I don't have them now.
I'm still a mostly motherless child. As far as I know, the woman who bore me still resides one state to the right, but I haven't heard from her in more than 5 years. I'm still mostly okay with that. There are times that I'm not. Growing up, it was usually my birthday. I wondered if she even remembered. After Robbie was born, it was more acute than I can ever remember it being. I was weak and vulnerable and yearned for a maternal touch to stroke my hair and tell me it was going to be okay. And of course, there was always Mother's Day. When friends celebrated their own mothers, I sat quietly. It wasn't so much a gaping wound, but certainly a scar that still ached in just the right weather.
Before Robbie was born, I thought about what Mother's Day would mean to me if I ever got to see it from "the other side." I would be healed, of course. There would be burnt waffles & scribbled drawings & slobbery kisses and I would be complete. I didn't think that becoming a mother would fix everything in my life, but that was one area I thought would be at least vastly improved.
Becoming Robbie's mom did fix a lot. It did fill a hole in life that I didn't really understand the depths of. I had finally won at least a battle against infertility, if not the war. I was now at least less of a failure (prematurity notwithstanding.) As Robbie got through rough patch after rough patch, medical scare after medical scare, I figured out that I'm actually a pretty decent mother. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I really love my kid and I'm willing to put his needs before mine. That was something I couldn't say about my own mother and sometimes, if I was honest, I worried that maybe my lack of a mother would leave me unable to be one myself. I don't worry about that any more. If... no, I mean when I experience a failure as a mother, it will be because I'm a human and no mother is perfect, not because I'm a bad one or because my son deserves someone better.
In spite of all of that, though, I actually find myself even more ambiguous about Mother's Day as a holiday. I still sit quietly while other people talk about what they're doing for their mothers on this day. That scar still aches. I still think about the babies that I lost. This is my 2nd official Mother's Day, but I know it might have been my 4th. While our continued infertility isn't front and center in our lives right now, it still exists. And more than that, I still frequently think of, and mourn with, my infertile & childless-mother friends. I hurt for them knowing how painful this day can be.
Yes, we have plans. A family breakfast, a fancy dinner. Robbie's OT helped Robbie make a hand print art project for me. There will be a card or two, I'm sure. I will enjoy all of those things. But I don't need them. Not even a little bit.
David has been talking about the day for a couple of weeks now. I keep telling him that every day is Mother's Day to me. Every day that includes Robbie reaching up for a hug or crawling over to lay his head on mine is the most perfect day. As much as I will enjoy the royal treatment, every day feels special with Robbie as part of it. Those who find this day painful need a fancy meal so much more than I do.
It will be a happy day in our house. I'm looking forward to it. Though my scars will ache a little, and I will remember. I will remember my motherless years. I will remember my lost babies. I will remember those for whom today isn't just a scar, but a gaping, festering wound.
But not just in spite of those memories, but in honor of all of them, I will enjoy the day. I mean, there will be fondue, after all. I won't let a deficient childhood or infertility or loss steal tomorrow. In fact, I will endeavor to enjoy it even more because of those things. Enjoying the day will be metaphorical middle finger to that which steals the joy from good people.
I will grin through six consecutive readings of "Tumble Bumble" and play peek-a-boo even though he sometimes forgets to let me find him. I will pull him into my lap for a snuggle break after he tires of being chased through the house. I will make a fool of myself to make him giggle until he loses his breath, gets the hiccups and throws up on me.
Tomorrow, every smile will have extra meaning. Not Hallmark fake meaning, but true, honest, lasting meaning. It will be a true holiday- Mother's Day.