Growing up I loved celebrating Mother's Day. I have the most wonderful mom so it was exciting to spend the day pampering her (read: making her not-so-tasty breakfast in bed and leaving the dishes for her to clean up) and giving her homemade cards and presents.
Mother's Day was all about sunshine and rainbows and happiness.
Then I became an adult. I did adult things. I graduated college. Matt and I were married. And then we wanted children. Logical right? Yes! Easy? Not so much.
That first mother's day, when I should have been a mother stung. My arms were empty, my heart was hurting. All around me women were having babies, becoming mothers. It seemed like I couldn't go anywhere without seeing a pregnant woman, a baby in a stroller or a happy family walking together. It wasn't that there were more happy families around me, it was just that I was much more acutely aware of what we were missing. Matt and I were happy together but just missing something we didn't even fully understand yet.
The following Mother's Days were just as hard. I cried the days leading up to Mother's Day. I cried at church when the pastor would acknowledge all of the mother's present. Didn't they know I wanted to be a mom? Didn't they realize, that on so many levels, I already was a mom? On Mother's Day 2009, I apologized to my mom before hand but told her that I just couldn't handle celebrating mother's day. Thankfully, she understood. And we skipped church.
Gabriel entered our life a little over three months later and then I was a finally a mother. Surely Mother's Day would be a happy day for me from now on. Love, marriage, baby... my life was complete.
But then the calendar turned to May and Mother's Day was looming ahead. Expectedly, I was excited to celebrate my first Mother's Day with Gabe but there was another feeling, a feeling I didn't expect but couldn't get past.
That feeling was grief.
Grief that there was now another mother out there not celebrating Mother's Day. A mother who's child I rock to sleep, watch grow and love deeply - Gabe's birth mother. There was grief for Gabe that he wouldn't be able to celebrate with her the amazing gift of life that she gave him or that I couldn't thank her for the amazingly selfless gift of love she gave us.
And that's the impossible chasm I try to reconcile each and every Mother's Day. Celebrating the wonderful gift of being a mother while grieving the fact that my children will always, in some way, be missing the love of their birth mother.
The older I get the more aware I become of the painful side of Mother's Day. My dearest friends and I understand the pain, loss and waiting that comes with motherhood. I have friends that have waited many, many years to bring their first little one home and friends that may never become a mothers.
I grew up hearing how hard ( and joyful) motherhood is but no one ever shared that it would actually be hard becoming a mother.
This Mother's Day as I celebrate my wonderful mom, I'm going to give thanks for Miss B and the sacrificial gift she gave me. I'm going to pray for her and all of the birth mothers of the children that will eventually join our family. I'm going to be praying for all of my friends that are waiting; those that have seen the face of their little one and are waiting for them to get home, those that are longing for a plus sign on that stupid stick, those that are struggling through a loss that words, scripture and faith can never truly make sense of.
Mother's Day is a day of celebration. It is also a very difficult day for many people. Until you've been on that difficult side, you probably never knew it existed. Now you do, and just maybe when you see the woman hurry out of service with tears on her cheeks, you'll understand why.