Monday, May 14, 2007

Reflections on Mother's Day

Mother's Day was a hard day for me for many years. I belong to a religion in which family plays a central role. Because of that, services on Mother's Day really emphasize mothers and motherhood. During the years of infertility, this day was the most painful of any in the year. It was one more reminder that I was not a mother and may never be a mother. At the end of sacrament meeting each Mother's Day, all women over the age of 18 were invited to stand a receive a gift. Although meant for all women, it was another stab in the heart and I resented it. The day became so painful for me that it was easier not to attend church on that day. I would stay home and wallow in my sadness over missing the joys of motherhood. Even the promises of motherhood in the next life did nothing to soothe my pain.

Although I am a mother now and I enjoy the home aspects of Mother's day (a special breakfast, extra cuddles with Cam, etc), the church issue is still hard for me to deal with. I know there are women in that audience hurting over not being a mother or their feelings of failure as a mother. Each year, in spite of motherhood, I still have dread over attending church on this day. I go to church on this day now, but I am very aware of how things are worded and the pain they may be causing others. I want to hug each one of those hurting women and tell them I am so sorry for their pain and heartache. Even with the title of mother now, I cringe at some of the comments made yearly in a church setting.

This year at church, the comments at church annoyed me as usual. I knew the pain they would cause to women out there struggling with infertility and the heartbreak. But for me, there was a small moment of healing meant for my heart alone.

After Sunday School, I went to the bathroom while Mark went and picked up Camden from nursery. As I came into the chapel to meet my family, I heard Camden calling for "Mama." As soon as he saw me, he ran up to me, calling my name, and handed me a blue piece of card stock. On it was a little poem about hand prints and there was his little hand print. The nursery workers had the kids make these for their mother's. Brave women that they are, they dipped each child's hand in black paint and placed it on the paper. And even more amazingly, there was no trace of black paint on Camden's skin or church clothing. It thoroughly touched me the effort put in by these women to make these small tokens for the mother's of the children 3 and under. And even more touching was Cam's excitement in presenting me this paper. He was so proud of himself! I cried as its simple beauty touched my soul. In that moment, a bit of healing came over me and the pain of Mother's Day at church lessened to a degree for me alone.

I know that day was hard for many women. I understand and I empathize. I am so, so sorry for anybody struggling through infertility and its pain. I am grateful, however, that for a brief moment I could see the beauty of such a day in a day that has been painful for so many years. I am grateful for that small moment of healing. I hope I never forget how Mother's Day can be a painful reminder for many women. But I also hope I never forget the moment my heart received a small moment of healing on this day. My hope for you, if you are struggling through this, is that you can find healing on that particular day as well.

10 comments:

Dorothy H. said...

Wonderfully said Rachelle. I too understand the pain that Mother's Day can bring for those without children. My 1st Mother's Day, yesterday, was an uplifting day for my heart.

Dramalish said...

You said it perfectly. Oh those Mothers' Day Sacrament meetings- how I dreaded them, and still listen with an infertile ear to some of the potentially painfull remarks...

Happy Mothers' Day, Rachelle. I echo your words.
-D.

Sara said...

AMEN SISTER!

Felt the same exact way. Even grumbled to Matthew about how I HATE the quote "your greatest calling in life is to be a mother blah blah blah and that it puts you above angels" or something to that effect. Totally buggin'

Plus our Ward Chorister just lost her baby at 33 weeks due to her appendix bursting and the poor thing couldn't even sing during the sacrament hymn, and was cryign during the TWO baby blessings. I wanted to die. I was totally bawling too. :P

Maine Mom said...

I'm glad this Mother's Day held some healing at church for you. No signs of paint except for on the gift?...a miracle :-)

Dawnyel said...

Beautiful!!
I also dread the "Mothers' day" talks. UGH! Even if you ARE a mom, don't they make you feel just so intimidated!? Like you'll NEVER be the perfect mother!?
I guess I never thought about the people who struggle with infertility and their pain on Mothers' day. From now on, thanks to this post, I think I'll be a little more sensitive! :)

sara - The Estrogen Files said...

Mother's Day with infertility is the hardest. In fact, all the holidays become more difficult. It's so lovely that Camden was able to help you heal, just that little bit, with his giving of unconditional love.

Nettie said...

Mother's day was always hard for my mom. I could never understand why she always spent so much time crying on that day. And I felt guilty that it must be because we weren't very good at showing her how much we appreciated her. But, it was because she felt like such a failure as a mom. Which is so sad, she was, and is a great mom.

There must be some way to honor mothers without making them and other women feel so bad, but I don't know what it is.

Hugs!

Heididodah said...

You humble me with your post. I've always taken for granted the talks and messages they give at church. I've never thought about it from an infertile woman's point of view. I hope that I can be a bit more sensitive to those women from now on. I just wish I knew what to say and do.

Lei said...

well said rachelle. i appreciate your perspective. :)

disillusioned said...

Thank you for this. Although--I do not understand what it feels like to be "infertile", I am "infertile" because I'm single. Mother's Day is just as painful as someone who has desired for years to not be single, and even more to be a mom. I was the little girl singing louder than every other little girl "When I grow up, I want to be a mother"--yet all of those little girls now have kids--and I'm still waiting to be asked out on more than 2 dates by a guy (and I'm almost 30). I hate when church leaders say crap such as "even if you aren't a mother in this life, there are other ways to 'mother'" As a great aunt, and an incredibly former dedicated teacher--IT IS NOT THE SAME. Being a dedicated aunt can sometimes feel similar--but it's not the same--and anyone who thinks that you can still mother when you're not a mother--DOESN'T GET IT!! So--I stand as a purposefully chosen infertile person--in absolute frustration on Mother's Day--because I could be a mother--but am not since I belong to a church that believes marriage is the only way. I agree with that (for the most part)--but as time passes I agree with you--Mother's Day and Father's Day are days I'd prefer to avoid at church. I prefer to avoid Father's Day (although I'm "good" and usually still go) because I HATE sitting in single's and student wards listen to leaders tell young men to "prepare" to become good fathers. Kay--most need to quit "preparing"--make a decision--and DO IT!!!! Where's Pres. Kimball when you need him!!! Anyway--thank you for your lovely blog! I completely agree. P.S. I have to add that I did actually feel cheated this year on Mother's Day--beyond the normal feeling of cheated that I usually feel. I felt this way cause I'm in a new ward--and rather than purchasing a gift for the women in the ward--as all of my wards did in UT (I life in a different state), the young men SANG TO US!!! Kay--not that I don't love the hymns---but on an incredibly depressing day like Mother's Day--I need a seretonin uptake that chocolate brings!!! DUH!