At 3 a.m. this morning, the strangest revelation hit me. I was trying to fall back asleep after feeding my boy, thinking about all the women for whom Mother’s Day stings. The women I know who should be holding babies but aren’t. The mothers who’ve lost babies, the women longing to have babies, the women who’ve lost mothers, never known their mothers, are estranged from their mothers, mothers whose children don’t celebrate them, fathers who have lost the mother of their children, people who, for a million different reasons, spend Mother’s Day simply remembering what they don’t have.
When all that talk of the world ending in 2012 was circling around – February 2012 according to Mayan philosophy, to be precise – I remember asking myself what that one thing was. That one thing I’d like to do or have before the world or my life ended. It wasn’t a country I wanted to visit. It wasn’t a mountain I wanted to conquer, a retreat I wanted to go on. I wanted to have a child. I wanted to know what it felt like to be a mother.
You know what I realized at 3 a.m. this morning? I realized I fell pregnant with Ella 9 months before February 2012 – that Mayan prophecy prediction. And for all the shock and panic and Hell Nos I thought when I saw those two pink lines, for all the I’m not good enough yet’s and the I can’t do this now’s and the I’m not ready’s, it was ironically, the very thing I wanted. The one sole thing I could not live my life going without.
I realize this is the case for many women. For all the dreams we harbour, for all the “one things” to do before the world ends, for many women, having a child is the ultimate. It’s irreplaceable. It’s unquestionable. And so to swallow the pill which stops their ‘one thing’ from happening, especially when it is forced down their throats against their consent, is – like a friend of mine says – some serious bullshit.
I believe the word mother is more of a verb than a noun. To mother is to support and nourish life. Any life-form. But I wonder if this feels patronizing? So much of my Instagram and Facebook feed on Mother’s Day was celebrating people everywhere who “nurture life” as opposed to the straightforward definition of a mother being one who has children, and I wonder if that made children-less women hurt even more? I wonder if they looked upon all those mothers with smiling happy children saying “we still celebrate you” and thought, “Oh just shut up.”
I didn’t know what to do about that, since to further hurt hurting women is not the business I’m in. I didn’t know what to say to the people for whom this day stings, so all I did was this.
When I was woken every 2 hours, I didn’t grumble my way out of bed. I scooped up my baby and I said a silent thank you.
When I stood at that cafe table, letting my breakfast go cold to rock my baby to sleep, I didn’t curse under my breath and wish for one moment’s peace. I said a silent thank you.
When my conversations were cut short, when the tantrums escalated, when the snotty noses needed wiping, I didn’t shoot Joel a death stare like somehow this was his fault. I said a silent thank you.
I broke all the self settling rules and fell into bed with my baby, shoes still on, and slept nose to nose.
I stopped myself from shouting at Ella because she spilled cat food all over the kitchen floor.
I let the messiness go. The chaos. The this-didn’t-get-done’s and I said a silent thank you that my one thing was granted.
And, I know it probably sounds silly, but I lit a candle. It was my small, unspoken gesture of love for those whose Mother’s Day hurts.
Because to be a mother is not a woman’s right. It’s a woman’s privilege. And the distinction between the two makes all the difference.
and became like blood in my body.
It rushed through my veins and
encircled my heart.
Everywhere I looked,
I saw one thing.
Love’s name written
on my limbs,
on my left palm,
on my forehead,
on the back of my neck,
on my right big toe…
Oh, my friend,
all that you see of me
is just a shell,
and the rest belongs to love.