On Mother’s Day that year, I was depressed. We had delivered our second son as a stillborn three months earlier, my back was still severely injured so walking was almost an impossible task, and we were coming out of a winter that was brutally cold and full of weeks and weeks of gray and snow. I had been warned by another woman who had been through a loss like ours to prepare myself for the day, and to talk about expectations.
Here’s the thing. I can’t stand up-front information. By the time we are discussing and planning what’ going to happen and how we are going to feel or not feel, I’m already over it and I’d rather skip it all together. All the “what-ifs” are overwhelming for me because I carry them around like a giant weight JUST IN CASE THEY HAPPEN. But that year my mental state was such that I’m all: “Expectations? NONE. I have NONE.” To which my husband gently says, “Um, are you sure? We can talk about them.” And no, all I wanted was a warm day that I got to be with my son and my mom and enjoy the outdoors. Vitamin D isn’t a cure all, but man does it do the trick once in a while.
Mother’s Day that year was to be spent sitting on the porch, soaking in the sun, eating yummy food, sharing a mimomsa with my mom and trying to sift though all the emotions that continually came at me. But I could do it! I was set up for this, and if I could just get some air, be outside, and feel the warmth on my skin, we were all going to get through the day.
It snowed 11 inches on Mother’s Day. Bye, Felicia.
You can plan for the worst and hope for the best, but sometimes, most of the time, things don’t go as planned. And how could they? For the Mama that had to say goodbye, let’s be real: Mother’s Day will never go as planned because it feels as though life hasn’t gone as planned.
Mother’s Day is great, expect for when it’s not. I remember having a Mother’s Day where my husband had the flu and my son was 2.5 years old at the time. I took him to the park and the whole day he yelled: “This isn’t Mama’s Day! This is Chippie’s Day!” And “I want DADA!” We came home, I put him down for a nap, and cried on the living room floor.
It wasn’t fun, and it held it’s own disappointments, but looking back, it was just life. It was not sorrow or grief so gut-wrenching you had to remind yourself to get out of bed.
But now, Mother’s Day holds a weight that is different. We are a few years out from losing our son, so the sting isn’t super fresh, but believe me: it’s there. The thought of my two sons playing, of two little hands to hold, and two sets of slobbery mouths kissing my face is not lost on me. It is a harsh reality for us as a family, one that we face with courage everyday. It takes a lot of courage for my son to ask where his brother is and why we don’t have another one yet. It’s a harsh reality for me when I am exhausted from being the mother and the brother all day, that I am aware of how different life would be had we not lost our second son. Not better, but different.
Because no one says this to us Mamas who had to say goodbye, let me be the one: Your babies, they are YOURS. They belong to YOU. You are their mama, not matter when you had to say goodbye, and they are your sons and daughters. Mother’s Day is for you, too.
Having to say goodbye to your babies hurts, and creates deep wounds that change you for good and rob you of many, many things. You loose dreams you had for your family, joys, and even faith at times. But the one thing that loosing children did not take away is your Motherhood. You have been stamped with this title forever, and that will never be robbed from you. Wear it proudly, Mama, for only you were chosen for your sons and daughters. It was YOU who were chosen to pray for them before they were conceived. It was you who were chosen to carry them forever how long or how short that period was. It was you who was chosen to dream big dreams for them and to still wonder and dream and hope and grieve over the fact that they aren’t there. Only a Mother can do these things.
You are a Mama, that that will never be taken away.
There is a grief, sadness, questioning and pain that is there for many of us on Mother’s Day. Just this week I got an email from a dear friend who had a miscarriage. I know women in my life who carry the children they said goodbye to more than 30 years ago. We will always carry our children with us, those we have to hold and those that we don’t.
Your pain and grief over losing your child is a marker of the innate and wonderful feeling of what it is to be a Mother. You will always watch your children grow, or wonder what it would have been like. You will always dream big dreams for your littles, and take those that aren’t with you along with you anyway. You will always see your family of 2 or 3 or 4 and when someone asks how many kids you have, you will always pause and do the math in your head.
Only a Mama, who loves fiercely and deeply does that.
This Mother’s Day, us Mamas who had to say goodbye, we’ve got to dig deep and find the blue. The blue, may I remind you is not the silver lining. It is not the “Well at least…”. Sometimes there isn’t one. Because even in the best of circumstances where you see lots of good and you are grateful and life has been good to you for the most part; pain is still pain and hurt is still hurt. I know that one day we will see our son in heaven, just as Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, but pain is still pain and hurt is still hurt even in the face of resurrection. It still hurts even when hope is on the horizon. The blue, is looking at the pain and the hurt in the eye and finding an area of strength.
Where did you show up in life when you didn’t have to during your grief? GRAB THAT BLUE.
Where did you let others in and create new space for healing? GRAB THAT BLUE.
Where were you vulnerable and courageous as you said what you needed and how you felt? GRAB THAT BLUE.
What decisions did you have to make regarding saying goodbye, and effectively, parented your child in those moments? GRAB THAT BLUE
Where do you still hope even when it hurts? GRAB THAT BLUE.
Where did you get out bed, and eat a meal besides chips and coffee? GRAB THAT BLUE.
Where and when did you love your people even when it felt like your wounds were a black hole that took all the love and sucked it away? GRAB THAT BLUE
No matter how big or how small, there is blue. There is strength, there is courage, there is love, and there is hope. Find it, look at it, and take it for keeps. This is yours, Mama. These are the markers of your children living on, and how you can be assured they will never be forgotten, and their story told. This is how they have grown you and changed you, as all children do. These are only things that you could have done because you are a Mama. You are built with fortitude, strength, love, joy, resilience and perseverance. Today is for you, too. Bring your children to the table with you and celebrate that you, YOU ARE STILL THEIR MAMA.