It’s that time of year again.

That time when everywhere I look there are aching reminders – commercials, racks of cards, advertisements, special programs, and endless talk of Mother’s Day. When the day actually arrives, social media is plastered with images of mothers and their children, stories of sweet gestures – barely edible breakfast in bed, child drawn cards and pictures, flowers and treats, cute stories of how amazing it is to be a mother.

Unless I hide in my home with no television, no radio, no cell phone and no internet service for last half of April and first half of May, the endless reminders of Mother’s Day are unavoidable.

I don’t really show it much on the outside, but in these weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I walk around with a heart that bleeds and a throat full of held-back tears. I go to work and talk with friends and go about my life as usual while everything inside of me aches with grief for the children I cannot hold.

The other day I watched a mother and her son in a restaurant and wondered, “Can she really grasp the incredible gift that she has? The opportunity to love and raise and nurture her son here on Earth? Can she truly know how lucky she is?”

I love my mama friends and I love their children. Yet in these weeks before Mother’s Day, I wish none of them would say a word about their kids or their lives as mothers. Any other time of the year, I love hearing their stories about the successes and challenges with their kids. I love them and want to share in that part of their lives.

Yet in these weeks, I can’t bear to hear those stories. I don’t want to know what amazing or funny thing their child did. I don’t want to listen to how hard it is to deal with X, Y or Z as a parent. Every mention feels they are taking a hammer to my heart and breaking it to pieces.

See, I have stories of my children too. Thousands of images and memories of life with my daughters. Endless things I could tell my friends and family about.

But my stories and memories aren’t real.

My daughters died before birth. In my mind, I see them here with me every day. I imagine who they might be, what they would look like, and how life with them would be. They are part of everything that I do and who I’ve become in this world. In some ways, they are as real to me as your living, breathing children are to you.

Except aren’t. They are phantom children. I cannot show you pictures or tell you stories of how sweet or how mischievous they are. They live only in my imagination as possibilities of what might have been. You cannot see them and few would look at me and see a mother.

You won’t find stories of motherhoods such as mine in the commercials or the greeting card aisle or advertisements. Your church won’t mention mothers like me by name – though they may think they are by tacking on an addendum such as “and all those who consider themselves mothers.” There won’t be a brunch special for mothers of dead kids.

I don’t live the socially accepted or recognized motherhood. I’m not the kind of mother most will think of on this day called Mother’s Day.

I will wake to a quiet and empty home. I will make myself breakfast and go about my day as usual. There will be no giggling girls, no tempers to calm, not special “mom” events to attend, no outside proof of my motherhood.

I may not be recognized as a mother on this day called “Mother’s Day,” but I will remember. I will remember the children that made me into this person called Mother. I will remember the lives that grew inside of me and that I love beyond any kind of measure.

My greatest wish on Mother’s Day is that every recognized mother truly knows the gift that she has – a living, breathing child here on Earth with them. Children she gets to nurture and hold and share endless stories of their successes and their challenges.

The gift of Mother’s Day is getting the opportunity to mother your child. I would give up a thousand lifetimes for the chance to mother my girls here in living, breathing form.

I spent a couple hours the other night rocking someone else’s crying baby to sleep. It’s something I do fairly regularly now as part of a new job. Sweet baby smell, aching arms, and that heavy sleeping baby weight in my arms.

On the same day I also looked at pictures of a friend who had taken her teenage son to visit colleges over spring break. She talked about how proud she is of him and how she is preparing herself to let him go off into the world on his own.

Both situations made me want to lay my head down and weep.

Most of the time these days, I handle being around kids or watching other women mother pretty well. There’s always a slight pinch in my heart, but generally speaking it doesn’t rip and tear the way it once did. I’m so used to that pinch now, I barely register it. For the most part, I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t have my children here to nurture and know in this physical world. I have mostly made my peace with being a mother without living children.

Except Mother’s Day is approaching again. Mother’s Day and Christmas are the two holidays when my heart bleeds fresh. I can’t help but feel bombarded with images and reminders of what I didn’t have, don’t have, and will never have – a baby to love and nurture, a child to raise, a teenager to see grow into independence.

Already, I’m seeing ads and commercials, cards filling up the aisles in stores, displays for Mother’s Day gifts popping up everywhere. For most of the last 14 years, my dearest wish this time of year was to be somehow get lost on some deserted island away from all technology, people, and heartbreaking reminders that I will never be a “real” mother in the eyes of the world.

I wanted to disappear and be invisible in the same way that my motherhood has been invisible and generally disregarded all these years.

However, in recent years, despite the fresh bruises on my heart from reminders of what I don’t have, I have chosen to reclaim Mother’s Day. The world may never see my motherhood or find it as valid and valuable as those mothers with living children, but I wanted to acknowledge it and the motherhood of others like me without their children to hold.

And so Share Your Mother Heart was born.

A 14-day journey created specifically for mothers without any living children to honor, acknowledge, and share their experience of motherhood. To bring us together to talk about our experiences of motherhood, pregnancy, and more – to share the experiences that too often others don’t wish to hear about because our babies have died.

This Mother’s Day let us come together and acknowledge each other. Let’s share our stories and honor each other as the mothers that we are. As invisible as our motherhood might seem to the world around us, we are still mothers. Let’s see each other.

Join us and share your mother heart.

(This post is a modified version of 2016’s Share Your Mother Heart post)

13006591_1749308178633901_7777245436269149073_nI spent a couple hours the other night rocking someone else’s crying baby to sleep. It’s something I do fairly regularly now as part of a new job. Sweet baby smell, aching arms, and that heavy sleeping baby weight in my arms.

On the same day I also looked at pictures of a friend who had taken her teenage son to visit colleges over spring break. She talked about how proud she is of him and how she is preparing herself to let him go off into the world on his own.

Both situations made me want to lay my head down and weep.

Most of the time these days, I handle being around kids or watching other women mother pretty well. There’s always a slight pinch in my heart, but generally speaking it doesn’t rip and tear the way it once did. I’m so used to that pinch now, I barely register it. For the most part, I’ve embraced the fact that I don’t have my children here to nurture and know in this physical world. I have made my peace with being a mother without living children.

Except Mother’s Day is approaching again. Mother’s Day and Christmas are the two holidays when my heart bleeds fresh. I can’t help but feel bombarded with images and reminders of what I didn’t have, don’t have, and will never have – a baby to love and nurture, a child to raise, a teenager to see grow into independence.

Already, I’m seeing ads and commercials, cards filling up the aisles in stores, displays for Mother’s Day gifts popping up everywhere. For most of the last 13 years, my dearest wish this time of year was to be somehow get lost on some deserted island away from all technology, people, and heartbreaking reminders that I will never be a “real” mother in the eyes of the world.

I wanted to disappear and be invisible in the same way that my motherhood has been invisible and disregarded all these years.

However, this year, despite the fresh bruises on my heart from reminder of what I don’t have, I decided I wanted to reclaim Mother’s Day. The world may never see my motherhood or find it as valid and valuable as those mothers with living children, but I wanted to acknowledge it and the motherhood of others like me without their children to hold.

And so Share Your Mother Heart was born.

A 10-day journey created specifically for mothers without any living children to honor, acknowledge, and share their experience of motherhood. To bring us together to talk about our experiences of motherhood, pregnancy, and more – to share the experiences that too often others don’t wish to hear about because our babies have died.

This Mother’s Day let us come together and acknowledge each other. Let’s share our stories and honor each other as the mothers that we are. As invisible as our motherhood might seem to the world around us, we are still mothers. Let’s see each other.

Join us and share your mother heart.

Also, treat yourself for Mother’s Day (or gift another mother like you) with the Invisible Mothers: When Loves Doesn’t Die book! Order here to snag $5 off!

photoI hate Mother’s Day.

There, I said it. Perhaps it’s not very spiritually enlightened or evolved of me, but it is honest.

This year will be my 12th Mother’s Day as a mother. An invisible mother, as my daughter died before birth, but still a mother. I’m not proud of it, but even after 12 years, Mother’s Day still brings up feelings of grief, bitterness, and pain. The weeks of ads and cards and commercials and endless talk of this idealized image of mother that pervades every store, TV, and social media site. It all makes me want to shut myself up in my house and avoid all contact with the world.

Unfortunately, I can’t hide from life, and as much as I want to, I can’t hide from the pain. Oh, I am so tired of the hurt. That constant ache inside for my daughters, that ache that feels like someone is repeatedly punching in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day.

Not to mention the endless litany of judgment – from myself and from others when I admit my dislike of this holiday.

“I should be over this by now.”
“Mother’s Day shouldn’t still bother me so much.”
“You should stop being so selfish and think of others or your mother instead.”
“You make too big a deal out of this.”
“I should be more spiritually evolved than this.”
“Having others acknowledge my motherhood shouldn’t matter so much, I know who I am.”

But, it does still hurt. It does still bother me. The acknowledgement does still matter to me. I am, apparently, not so spiritually evolved yet.

It’s not as if I begrudge mothers of living children their acknowledgement and recognition. Raising children is hard-ass work and they deserve recognition for it. I love to recognize and remember my mother and grandmother. My mother did not have an easy time with me and she deserves a helluva a lot of credit for that!

I just wish that it was something we simply did every day instead of making a big spectacle of a Hallmark holiday out of it.

Every year I think, “I’m going to do better this year. This year it won’t hurt so much.” And every year I struggle with it. I fight to be present with life while not unnecessarily subjecting myself to more hurt. Most years I feel like I fail at this. I can’t recall a single Mother’s Day in 12 years that hasn’t involved grief, tears, and longing to be part of the “regular mothers club.”

Mother’s Day is still days away and already I’m exhausted. Already the judgment is raging. Already I have cried and had to manage the hurt. Already I am struggling to find the balance between living fully and minimizing pain.

Perhaps there really isn’t anything that can be done to take away the pain of this holiday. It helps, I think, when the pain of childless mothers and motherless children is acknowledged on this day. Being seen and being loved without judgment does help soothe that burning ache within.

And, as much as that helps, not even that can bring back my daughters or make Mother’s Day a happy occasion. I don’t have a nice, neat solution to make it all better.

I still hate Mother’s Day.
I still struggle with judging myself for that.
I still try to engage fully in life.
I still get up and walk with this pain.

I am a mother who hates Mother’s Day. And maybe that’s ok.

Because this is life. Where messiness and beauty live side-by-side.

 

mothers day messI had planned to hide today. To bury myself under metaphorical covers and avoid the flood of Mother’s Day messages on Facebook and all over the stores. To lose myself in books and movies and pretend this emotional day doesn’t exist.

I’ve struggled with Mother’s Day for years. Some years I’ve felt angry and bitter, grieving deeply for my daughters and angry that no one seemed to notice. Other years I’ve done as I planned to do this year, to avoid it, isolate myself and pretend it didn’t exist. Yet other years I focused on my love for my mother and grandmother and for my girls and worked to ignore the pain and loss I felt.

For the last 11 years, Mother’s Day has mostly been about trying to avoid feeling too much. It’s been a fight with myself between being visible and being invisible, arguing with myself about all the conflicting feelings of anger and grief and love and sadness and fear.

I talk a lot about how mothers with no children here in physical form can seem invisible – not seen by the world at large as the mothers that they are because they have no obvious physical, visible proof of their children. Professionally, I work to give these “invisible mothers” a voice, recognition, and acknowledgement. Personally, I fight to figure out how I want to acknowledge and recognize and speak for myself.

I had planned to hide this year. To avoid the dizzying array of conflicting feelings and just wait for the day to pass.

But hiding only serves to perpetuate invisibility. Hiding does not take away the pain or grief or sadness of this day. Avoiding the emotions of today will only serve to amplify those emotions – believe me, I’ve had plenty of experience with this! Hiding from this day doesn’t serve me or anyone.

Not everyone will understand the pain that I and others feel on this day. I may never understand the joy that mothers with physically here children may feel on this day. Everyone has their own experience of this day and likely people will always disagree on how it “should” be handled.

I get that. And it’s ok.

Instead of hiding, I will live this day. I will feel whatever I feel and let that be ok. I’ll go to my spiritual center and acknowledge the pain when the mothers are recognized. I’ll take myself out to a movie and celebrate for myself that way. I’ll call my mother and feel happy that she’s my mother and she’s still here. I’ll think of my girls and be grateful that they chose me as their mother. I’ll cry because they are gone.

I’ll live this day with all it’s messy and conflicting emotions because life is messy. Grief is messy. Motherhood is messy. Love is messy.

If I can’t avoid the mess, I might as well jump in and embrace it.


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