Tuesday, May 5, 2015


My first Mother's Day, I took 2 week old Jerica to church for the 1st time.  My mama and my Toomama were with us.  It was a bittersweet day in some respects.  I was finally a mama after a lot of waiting, our precious gift, our yes, our hope.  I was also grieving at that time.  I was grieving for a young woman who chose to give her baby a family she could not provide--roots, God, both mom and dad, extended family.  Our baby girl wouldn't have had all of those things if it weren't for the plan her birthmother put in place for her.  We explain the mixed feeling that can go along with an adoption sometimes with the analogy of an organ transplant.  If my loved one needs a new heart and gets one, getting a 2nd chance at a full life, someone else had to lose their family member.  While we are joyful and hopeful, that family is grieving a loss.  It's similar in an adoption.  A young woman spent my 1st Mother's Day, healing from a delivery--no baby in her arms.  And my arms were overflowing.

An oldie, but goodie in a more innocent time. <3

There are other bittersweet feelings related to Mother's Day.  Not only do I think of my baby girl and son (!) at Mother's Day, I think of  my dear friend, Lynn, and her baby girls.  I'm thankful that they have a mom now after losing their Mommy Lynn as little bitty girls.  I also think of my dear friend, Janabeth.  The week that Jerica was born, and the day Lynn's first baby, Sally, was born, our friend Janabeth lost her daughter Denae who was 5.  Mine and Lynn's 1st Mother's Days, Janabeth's arms and home were emptier.

These rushes of emotions 
that seem so conflicting
--joy and grief--
are a part of the experience for me.  

Other women also.  
Many others.

The last few years have added another layer of mixed feelings related to Mother's Day.  Since Keith has become an atheist and will no longer attend a service with us, Mother's Day has been sadder for me. From the time we had children, Mother's Day and Father's Day did include some small gifts, but was much more about spending the time together as a family--beginning at church and then at a park, having a picnic, going to the movies, going to the zoo, etc.  Lots of moms are sitting in church surrounded by their husband and children.  And I'm sitting without my husband, with one child that hasn't always wanted to be living, and the other who has at times argued greatly about going to church when Dad isn't there.  The 1st Mother's Day he didn't go with us was also one I'd been asked to take care of the Mother's Day gifts for the mothers in the church. So, I worked spending time on other moms, went by myself, and it was not a warm, fuzzy, special day for me. So, the last 2 years, I just haven't gone to church at all on Mother's Day.  My only opportunity to be with all of my nuclear family is to stay home, missing any words, blessings, or honorings for Mothers in church on this day.  (And I came from a family that celebrates everything well--birthdays, holidays, and days like Mother's Day and Father's Day.)

From our NAMI parents support group, we know that there are also days like Mother's Day that are hard for these parents--even if their child is living and is stable and in the home.  Mother's Day can be hard, at the least a mixed bag, because Motherhood is HARD.  And when you are walking through crises with a child and life is upside down and not going like you thought/imagined/hoped/prayed for, it's not always a happy day.  And it is hard for most moms to admit this, because we love our children, we wouldn't trade them for all the tea in China, and we want/always wanted them, and so that mommy-guilt piles up on our shoulders.  When you have a child who struggles with life, needing special intensive help, medication, and even hospitalization, you blame yourself.  And truth be told, we know that there are others who blame us as well, communicated in attitudes and also in hurtful words and actions sometimes.  To my moms in this situation, sometimes it helps to admit it to other moms in the same situation and to know that these moms struggle with the same feelings.  We can do this together without judgment, and that is so important.

Below is a letter that was penned to Mothers who have children of all ages struggling with their mental health conditions.
Read this, Moms, 
for whom motherhood is often a struggle, 
an experience in grief, 
a call to advocacy.  
Take it in.

The following was taken from an online NAMI discussion board in May 2009.
To all the mothers in our group,
Let me take the liberty of representing the men of the group in wishing all of you a blessed Mother's Day this Sunday. I'm sure the other guys will chime in. So, for just a moment, please let me speak to you what I believe your kids would say to you special mothers if only they could.

Dear Mom,
First, thank you for never letting me go. I know I am sometimes hard to love and hard to deal with. My mind just isn't working right and I can't tell you always what is really on my heart. Mom, this is a scary world I live in. The only sanity to it is my deeply ingrained knowledge of your love for me. I know it at the depths of my soul, even though I can't always express it on the outside. You keep pulling me back to reality. Your touch, your voice, and your being calm my soul at the foundation. I will never in this life be able to repay my debt to you and I know that you will never stop loving me no matter what. I know it hurts you to think of all the things you wished for me that may never be. That's okay mom. I don't need all that. I have you. If only I could, I would tell you all these things myself. I would do things for you that others do for their moms. I so want you to be proud of me. I am doing my best. That is what you taught me to do. I did listen to the things you said.
Mom, you are the most loving, kind, gentle, and good thing that I've ever know in this world. Please know how much I love you. Please know how important you are to me. Please know how much I still need you. I am so sorry that my illness prevents me from being able to tell you all of this directly - but you, mom, you know my real heart. You can see into my soul. You always have. Look deeply within me and you will see all that I have said here. Mom, you are the greatest mom in the entire world. I love you with all my heart. Please forgive all the things I can't control and know that even if they make me say things I don't mean, that I love you anyway. Thank you for never leaving me and never letting me go.
Your Son/Daughter

So moms of our group: I am confident that what is expressed above is truly the way your kids feel. As you read it, put their voice to it in your mind. I wish you a blessed Mother's Day. You deserve it. You are all the most incredible mothers I've ever had the privilege to know. Each of you is in my prayers.

Take care, James

This year as Mother's Day approaches, I feel shattered and the tears flow easier than normal.  Because there is a mama in Irving, a mama I've known for nearly 10 years who is burying her only child this Saturday.  And she will have to face Mother's Day.  Without her girl.  Without Lacie, who is the spitting image of her.  Lacie, 19, was the victim of a shooter this past weekend, just as she was about to head back to Irving for the summer.  Lacie, a beautiful spirit, a lover of animals, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A senseless act.  A thug.

Pray for this mama this Sunday, as she faces life without this child of hers.

I do not know if I will be up for church this Sunday.  I have been feeling like I might be this year, simply because Keith won't even be in the country this Mother's Day.
So maybe it will feel better? 
But now.  
I have to get through the next few days.  I'm going to a funeral for a young woman who should not be dead, who just wanted to be a veterinarian and save every animal.  I'm going to hug a mama who has to say good bye to the only child she's been able to carry.  I don't know how Lacie's mama will even be able to pick her head up off the pillow this Mother's Day.

And I am completely undone.  
And none of this is ok. 
Fellow Moms, especially those whose lives don't look like they had hoped, dreamed or planned, keep looking for the stars even as you sit in the rubble.

And take in this song.  
A place I understand.  
A place I hope to still reach.

A prayer for you and me...

So, if you see women alone this Sunday, hug her.  She might be missing a child, her own mama, her husband, or the life she thought she would have.  Hugs.  Just hugs.  No platitudes or empty statements.  Just love.  Tears are allowed to.  Just let them flow.

Hugs, physical presence and tears heal a lot more than words.

If you know a single mama, take her kids for a few hours.  Give her a respite and take her kids to pick something out for her on Mother's Day--something she didn't have to plan, pull off, or even pay for if you are able to help monetarily.  These mamas often get overlooked.

And should you feel moved to continue the legacy Lacie hoped to leave as she cared for all of the animals, please visit this Gofundme site for Lacie's Legacy.  The funds will be used to establish a non-profit foundation--For the Love of Lacie's Animals.

No comments:

Post a Comment