Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day

No two words bring such happiness and such pain as "Mother's Day". I am overwhelmed with love and appreciation for my own mother and full of sadness at my lack of motherhood. It is quite a conundrum!

I recently happened upon this blog posting by a woman who, despite years of treatments, never crossed over into the world of motherhood. Seeing adoption was not an option for her, she had to learn to come to terms with her life as a non-mom. Though I'm sure the pain will always be there, she has made it. And brilliantly!

Mother’s Day: A Cultural Crucible
By Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos

The last week of April and first weeks of May have for years felt like their own special form of hell week. Each year it’s the same. First the signs, banners and fliers start showing up everywhere humans congregate — in grocery stores, outside restaurants, liberally scattered around malls and shopping centers. Then the fiber-optic lines light up carrying headlines and advertisements with unsolicited, mocking reminders of what might have been.

There’s simply no making it stop. Mother’s Day, for a portion of society accustomed to being invisible, is a cultural crucible to be endured. There’s literally no escape even at sacred houses of worship or at movie theaters, the once safe place to tune out the world. (This year the feel-good movie of the season is called simply, “Babies.”)

For me, the emotional torture reached its peak a few years ago when I was newly aware that motherhood would forever remain a concept, a theoretical — not an actual experience I would ever know intimately. More than a decade of trying to conceive with increasing amounts of surgeries and medical intervention had proved unsuccessful.

Ultrasound images of embryos we once cautiously affixed to the refrigerator amid the smiling faces of our family and friends’ children soon found their way into a manila folder along with stacks of doctor forms, prescription regimens and reproductive endocrinology reports. My husband and I found ourselves for a time in limbo assigned to the confounding category of “unexplained” infertility. There were, we were soon to discover, no membership kits, no bonding rituals, no themed parties, no special holidays for the involuntarily childless set.

It wasn’t that I became thin-skinned as a nonmom among the mommy set. It felt rather like I had no skin at all. The sight of a pregnant woman could ruin my day in an instant. But that was only the beginning. I had the unfortunate timing of trying to cope with and mourn the losses associated with infertility at what I’m sure will be remembered as the zenith of the mommy-and-me phenomenon. Mom’s clubs, mommy bloggers and helicopter parents took off like wildfire just about the time my uterus was declared officially closed for business. My barrenness also collided with an onslaught of reality TV shows showcasing supersized families, from the Gosselins to the Duggars. And just to make things really weird, along came Octomom.

This year I’m finding the signs and advertisements don’t elicit the emotional rash they once did.

I no longer have the urge to hit the reply button sending scathing responses to e-mail marketers asking how I planned to celebrate motherhood. Mother’s-Day-brunch providers and flower shops urging early reservations no longer cause me to feel like an outcast among women. I can only conclude that I have crossed the threshold to a once elusive zenlike acceptance.

Amid a societal celebration of all things maternal, I was forced to grow a skin much thicker than I ever imagined. Much like regular inoculations sensitize allergy sufferers to irritating substances, I’m much less reactive to the whole motherhood thing in general. In fact, I’ve developed a powerful protective instinct for women who are today where I once was — lost, angry, sad and mourning the dreams they once held so dear.

This year when the fill-in-the-blank (pastor, priest, minister, rabbi, etc.) asks all women in the congregation who are mothers to stand to be recognized, you might take a closer look at the women who remain seated. There are many among them grateful that only a few hours remain to be endured in the annual Mother’s Day season.


Luke and Nat said...

Sheri Dew just spoke in our Stake at a RS Fireside. She talked about the realization that she is prob. not going to be married in this lifetime...and therefore prob. not going to be a mom in this lifetime. I've heard her speak before and she has such a spiritual outlook on her's quite inspiring as this is also. I don't know if she ever talks about it in her books, but her fireside and a talk I've heard before mention it quite a lot. I don't know if you'll agree but I think people have become much more sensitive to infertility in wards. Now they have ALL females stand (even girls as future moms) so as not to exclude anyone...I always thought that was a sensitive gesture on the part of the bishopric. And I do think we grow thicker skin... :)

RMCarter said...

My Bishop has every woman stand, and has even made the effort to find me in the hallway (where I am usually hiding out during that time) and make sure I get a Mother's Day treat. He is very good about that.

I just hate standing there because I can't help but cry and I don't want people to see me crying or feel sorry for me. I want them to just enjoy their day.