Journal Entry: May 7, 2018
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. I dreamt of my first Mother’s Day throughout my pregnancy, especially since it would come near the end of the 12 weeks of maternity leave I had planned. But, my first official Mother’s Day, as a Mom, will be nothing like what I had pictured. Motherhood is looking nothing like I had pictured it would. But, I suppose motherhood doesn’t really look precisely what many moms dream of, before bringing their first baby home.
From what I have read and heard, the motherhood that includes bringing your living baby home includes a lot of not so dreamy stuff too; stuff like sleep deprivation, changing those first tar-like poopy diapers, sore breasts and living in puked on clothing. Moms with baby in utero know these things are coming, but they don’t dream of these things. This mom now dreams and longs for those things. The not so dreamy details of a newborn baby are truly something I would give anything to be experiencing right now.
As a loss mom, a challenge that I must face in the age of social media, is seeing pregnant women complain about the obvious pregnancy symptoms or other moms grumble about the mess their children left behind. At times, I get the strong urge to fiercely type a reply and remind them of how grateful they should be. I instantly want to snap back with an “I’d give anything to have exactly what it is you are complaining about”.
But, here is the thing, I am not going to be the one to tell another mom that they have to be grateful and find joy in every moment, even the ones that leave you feeling at the end of your rope. It is okay, as a mom of all living children, to have difficult moments. It is okay to feel like you can’t do all that is motherhood, all of the time. It is okay to realize that the children, the blessings you have, can be difficult to mother, at times.
I say, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Leave the dishes undone and the laundry in the dryer. Choose your babies, and find time for you and your relationship with God. Perfection, a sterilized home or insisting you enjoy every moment will only put undue pressure on yourself.
“FINALLY, ALL OF YOU, BE LIKE-MINDED, BE SYMPATHETIC, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, BE COMPASSIONATE AND HUMBLE” 1 PETER 3:8
Motherhood looks different for me and my fellow loss moms, than it does for the moms who do not know the loss of a child. But, we can still relate. That sleep deprivation, I have that too, from days filled with grief and from figuring out to keep going. And, yes, my dishes and laundry get behind because I’ve been too occupied with writing, reading or some other activity I’ve tried to pursue, to help me cope with the pain. That pressure you are often filled with, to enjoy every moment – I feel a pressure too. A pressure to heal, from a loss I will never truly or fully heal from. A pressure to get back to the old, normal me, the me that I no longer am.
Living in puked on clothes and changing those tar-like poopy diapers, for me, has been replaced with sleeping on tear soaked pillows and constantly cleaning up snot filled tissues. The sore breasts, well, just imagine your body doing what it is supposed to do to nourish the child you birthed but having nothing to do with the milk. That pain is not only physically excruciating, but emotionally excruciating too. I realize that motherhood, of living children, isn’t all peaceful and perfect. I still dream of it though. Motherhood of a baby born sleeping isn’t something anybody wants; it is the act of truly living out the worst nightmare that there is.
On my first Mother’s Day as a mom, more specifically as a loss mom, I want to offer this advice, to my mom friends who’ve not lost a child. Don’t be so hard on yourself; don’t feel the pressure of enjoying every moment or of keeping a perfectly tidy home. But, do try to find joy at the end of every day. Find something in your day to be grateful for. Don’t do this to remind yourself of how good you really have it or because you think you need to remind yourself that you really don’t have it that bad – these reasons are as misplaced as my anger would be if I typed those replies on the pregnant woman’s post. Rather, do these things to feel God’s work, to remind yourself of the strength He gives you and to maybe find yourself feeling a sense of renewal. Give yourself grace.
I am certain, some reading this will think, “who is she to give advice, she doesn’t even know what it is like to raise a child”. You would be right, I don’t know what is like to raise a child, but I imagine it can be hard at times. I’ll not imply or invite you to ask yourself if losing a child is harder than raising one, but I can tell you this, it is the hardest thing I’ve walked through in life. The advice I offer is tried and true, you see. It is something I am trying to do myself.
I try to remember the joy that does exist in the memories of Marshall. I try to find joy and other things to be grateful for each day, multiple times a day. When my seven year old nephew falls asleep in my arms by a bonfire, it is easy for my thoughts and feelings to trickle to the realization that I will never have such moments with my oldest son. I’m learning to have those thoughts, but to also find joy in those moments. I stop to find joy in what may be the last time this sweet boy will fall asleep in his auntie’s arms. I soak up the joy of listening to my ten year old nephew belting out his favorite songs without reservation. I savor the moments of my ten month old nephew giggling when I float my hair over his face to distract him while his mom changes his diaper.
Motherhood is so different, and often difficult, in very unique ways for each of us. Some feel disconnected from other adults, after spending all day, every day with their children. Some feel guilty and upset for missing an activity with their children, because of their work schedule. Some feel guilty for wanting to try for another baby so soon after losing their first. Some are in a long period of waiting and uncertainty as to when, or if, they will be able to have babies of their own. Whatever motherhood looks like for you, wear it with joy and don’t be so hard on yourself. Know that you are trying your hardest and that you are doing it beautifully. Give yourself, and the moms whose motherhood looks very different from yours, grace, love and recognition for being the moms we are and long to be.
Mother’s Day Update:
Today was as difficult as I’d imagined it would be. I want nothing more than to have my baby in my arms, but I carry him deep inside my heart. My day was filled with love. From cards, gifts, sweet messages, kind words, long hugs, a surprise visit from a new loss mom friend, to the homemade jewelry box from my nephews and more than a few shared tears – I was surrounded with endless buckets of love from family, friends, my husband and God.