When you're trying to conceive, any holiday can be difficult. For me, personally, Mother's Day was and is the hardest of all. For years, this one day of the year was when I hid from the world. I wasn't interested in pity, platitudes about how "I'd be a mom one day," and really not interested in plastering a smile on my face while all of my friends celebrated their motherhood. There are just so many reasons why Mother's Day is the worst when you're trying to conceive.
I lived in Ireland during most of my partner and I's infertility, where they celebrate Mother's Day on a different day than the United States. Yes, you read that right. I was one of those "lucky" women with two separate Mother's Days to be celebrated, or in my case, to be avoided as much as possible. Now that I am a mother by adoption, I've chosen to celebrate Mother's Day in the United States (instead of celebrating Irish Mother's Day), because this is the place where I actually became a mom. There is slightly less sting on Mother's Day now, too and thanks to my daughter, and I realize that. The blow has softened, so-to-speak. However, I still vividly remember how difficult those days were when I was waiting to be a mom. In fact, I think it's impossible for me to forget how isolating and exhausting and anxiety-inducing it all was. Simply put, the worst.
My biggest coping mechanism I like to share with women who yearn to be moms but aren't yet, is that for those special holidays that hurt the most, protect yourself. Stay off social media if it brings you pain, celebrate your own mom (if you can and/or want to), and work out a way to celebrate yourself as a future mom (or as a pet mom or as a surrogate mom to some special kids in your life). For those of you on the other side, don't forget the women in your life who haven't made the jump yet. Send them a kind text or remind them how important their maternal spirit is in your life.
Because Of The Pity
Pity is such a tough one on Mother's Day. I always wanted a little extra compassion from my partner on those days, but I didn't want to feel eyes on me at family gatherings. I needed an extra big hug or a squeeze from my husband when we'd greet yet another friend who was already a mom, but I didn't want anyone else's pity. I didn't want others to feel like they couldn't celebrate in front of me, simply because I wasn't a mom and they knew how much I wanted to be.
Because Of The Indifference
However, indifference is as equally difficult to stomach as pity. When friends or family don't recognize that it might be a hard day for you, typically because it's really never occurred to them, it sucks. Having a friend acknowledge that it could be a hard day for me made it so much easier to celebrate the moms around me.
That sounds selfish, I'm sure, but not feeling invisible in the whole mom equation was so helpful to me.
Because Of The Entire Day Of Reminders
Mother's Day is the worst because it's an entire day of reminders that you are not a mom. You see those around you celebrating, reminded that so many other people are moms. Literally, so many.
Because Of Facebook And Instagram
When you're trying to conceive, in general, life just seems exponentially harder because of Facebook and Instagram. When it's Mother's Day, and your entire feed is filled with cute kids and grinning moms and long posts about the beauty of motherhood, it's hell. I never wanted to take any of that away from those moms, but it was increasingly hard to see and be reminded over and over again of what I didn't have.
Because It's Another Year Of Trying
Mother's Day is a very glaring reminder that another year passed without becoming a mom. Womp womp.
Because You Realize You're Not So Young
Most Mother's Days, before I gave up social media on that particular holiday, I'd scroll through and inevitably find photos from a middle school friend who had five kids already. Five kids! How do you have five kids when I can't even manage to have one?
Then it would hit me: she has five kids because we are old. That realization always added insult to injury. It was basically an extra kick in the gut on an already hard day.
Because Of The Pretending
I found it particularly difficult to feign happiness on Mother's Day. I've never been the type to be able to conceal my emotions, and Mother's Day was no different. It was so darn difficult to pretend that I wasn't struggling on Mother's Day, but I put a whole lot of extra pressure on myself to not seem like I was coming undone.
Because Of The Complexity Of Becoming A Mom
In my case, my becoming a mom meant my daughter's mom had to suffer a very great loss. While Mother's Day is now a more joyful day than it was when I was trying to conceive, it is still a day of mixed emotions. Last year, on my first Mother's Day, I did post on Instagram, running the risk of making my previous self upset. Here's a little quote from the post:
"My first Mother's Day has me on the verge of tears every 20 minutes. For five years I wondered whether I would ever hold my own baby in my arms, whether I would ever get to be a mom, whether Michael would ever get to be a dad. So today is extra special. It's also extra emotional. For me to become a mom, my daughter had to first lose her birth mom. We think of her often, pray for her safety and peace, and thank God every day for crossing our paths and choosing us to take over when she needed us..."
Becoming a mom isn't always simple joy. Instead, and in my experience, it's often a little more complicated than that, and on Mother's Day that complication shows up, too.