When Mother’s Day Just Isn’t
A birth mother struggles to find her place in the celebration of Mother's Day.
Mother’s Day can be a lonely day for a mother who isn’t a real part of her child’s life after adoption. It can be a cold reminder of what you don’t have as you see your friends on Facebook flash their picture, post their thanks, and, as families, gather to celebrate the woman who helped make them who they are. It can make you feel, as a birthmother, entirely invisible.
I remember sitting in church on Mother’s Day and coaxing myself not to cry as they handed out roses to all the mothers. I didn’t get one. The year before, with my swollen belly and ankles, a confused 12 year old had handed me one. The next? No one even glanced at me, because no one even knew I had been pregnant the year before. My ex-husband and I went on to his family’s house, and I continued to be a ghost. There, but not really there, because how do you acknowledge the mother who isn’t really a mother because her child isn’t there?
Every Mother’s Day, except the last couple, I have remained stoic during the day. I’ve finished complaining to my husband about the functions I don’t want to go to because it’s Mother’s Day, and I detest it. He’s not listening because I won’t articulate fully why I dislike the day, and I don’t want to, because it’s just Mother’s Day. Even after our first child together was born, I still dreaded that day. It was a day that was full of expectation and hope for so many people. Everything always seemed to fall flat, and by the end of the day, I’d find myself in a pool of self-loathing and anger. Why could I celebrate it now? Because I kept my baby this time? I felt like my role as my son’s mother, even though he was adopted, was always negated on Mother’s Day.
Even with two kids, and a solid plan to get out of town again for this Mother’s Day, I still feel that haunting anxiousness creeping up. My calendar is taunting me as we inch closer, and I wonder just how this day will play out for me. I won’t be obsessively waiting for the adoptive family to message me, like I was last year. This year, the adoption is closed. This year, there won’t be a slight bit of hope for me to grasp as if it’s my life line which means my expectations won’t be disappointed this year. It’s just Mother’s Day, I tell myself. I’ll be surrounded by family that does love me, that does see me, and that doesn’t make me feel invisible. I’ll do my best to feel blessed.
Yet, I’m still invisible. The Mother who is a Mother- but isn’t really a Mother on Mother’s Day, because society isn’t quite sure where to place those of us who have lost and still love.