It’s Mother’s Day. A day universally dreaded by the infertile and/or permanently childless. Probably the most repeated themes of infertility/childless blogs today will be concerning the relative insensitivity towards childless women on this day, and rightly so, because so few in the fertile world understand the weight the childless woman feels on this day. It feels like the pain of a thousand childless holidays pooled into one day complete with a neon pointer sign over our head that says, “Not a mother. Not in the club. Somehow less of a woman.”
But, there are more and more people out there who “get it” now. Maybe it’s due to the voice we’ve found in recent years via blogs and social networking, but I also think there are just some great people out there who have a wonderful ability to sympathize with those of us who have suffered child loss or the death of the dream of having children.
I’ve witnessed four heartening things via Facebook this week. One of my “friends” who is a mother posted how a check-out person wished her a happy Mother’s Day this weekend. She mused on Facebook whether you should automatically wish a woman a happy Mother’s Day because she might not be a mother or it might be a sensitive subject to her. It started a big conversation, and while there were some who thought it was ridiculous that she would raise such a question most people understood that wishing someone a happy Mother’s Day might be an emotional grenade to some. Maybe they couldn’t be a mother. Maybe their child died, or maybe their mother has died and they still miss her terribly. etc. etc.
Let me disclaimer here that I have always appreciated people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. I’ve always taken it in the spirit it was offered and been thankful to the person giving it. I used to say, “Oh, I’m not a mother”, but it always created a sense of awkwardness and dampened the spirit of goodwill leaving people searching for the right words to say. That’s hard for people to do with a stranger on the spur of the moment. So, I always say a polite “thank you”, give a warm smile, and go on my way. Even though there is a split second of pain I always feel genuinely thankful for the wishes. Let’s face it, in these times when you get a friendly greeting from anyone it’s a rare and beautiful thing and restores your faith that some people still care about other people rather than just themselves. So, I fall on the side of saying it’s okay to wish any woman a happy Mother’s Day. I personally don’t do it unless I know the woman is a mother, but I don’t begrudge others who say it to strangers. We’re all adults, and we should be able to take it in the spirit in which it is given.
The other three heartwarming things I experienced on Facebook today were from three of my friends (all mothers) who took their time to write on my wall directly. I was feeling a little melancholy this morning because #1) My vacation is coming to an end, and #2) it was Mother’s Day. I’ve learned over the years to not put myself through the torture of Mother’s Day at church if I’m not 100% on top my game. I knew this year was not going to be a good one as I’ve struggled a bit as of late, and my parents stayed over at my house last night (we had carpooled on vacation together). So, as I read all the Mother’s Day related posts this morning on Facebook (this year featuring a trend of all the mothers posting the names, birthdates, and birth weights of all their children *groan*) I came across something written directly on my wall:
From my friend Jenell: “to you I want to say you are loved.”
What a perfect greeting. No mention of my childlessness (not necessary) just a small statement fraught with understanding and love to me. A perfect thing to say.
A few hours later another post on written on my wall:
From my friend Kathy: “thinking of you today Vicki…hoping that you know that you are loved and that there are so many children you have influenced (my kids in VBS)…and I know that you are a wonderful aunt….and of course you’re a great mommie to your kitty’s…LOVE YOU and keep smiling that wonderful smile of yours!!!!!!!”
Oh my, my heart was overflowing. This friend had several miscarriages over several years before she was able to have two healthy children. She’s about 8 years older than me, and when I was a teenager in a small church family I remember witnessing her dark days, especially how Mother’s Day would reduce her to tears. She’s a veteran, bu has never forgotten how it feels, and she’s always had a kind word for me in my situation.
A few minutes later…
From my friend Teresa: YEAH! What Kathy said! ♥ you Vicki!!
Her children were in a Sunday School class I taught in the nineties. They’re adults now, and she’s always quick to tell me the influence I had in their lives. She also wrote a beautiful note on Facebook “to all the mothers who never gave birth.” She never struggled to have children, but she gets it, and that she went out of her way today to acknowledge the childless woman makes me well up with grateful tears.
Oh, and I’ve had several mentions from the sisterhood of CNBC, and it sure goes a long way to making us all feel less alone. They are my sisters in more ways than one.
Honestly, I don’t sit around hoping that my friends will remember me on this day, but it is so wonderful when they do. For all the bad press Facebook gets it has honestly helped me foster so many new relationships especially with other childless women all over the world that I would’ve never had a chance to foster due to time and distance. It’s created a such a valuable sense of community for me that I wouldn’t have had if not for Facebook, and other social forums. It has also helped me reconnect with some friends I had in other chapters of my life. Yes, social networking can be used in unhealthy ways, but it can be used in very healthy ways to bring community to our doorstep we wouldn’t have otherwise. Social networking when done right can be a ministry to others, especially folks who feel isolated in their life situations. Today has reminded me to be sensitive to what others are going through and offer them support on the days they need it most. A simple kind word said at the right time can literally change a day of depression into a day of heartwarming joy.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone with the heart of a mother!