Mother’s Day—it’s here again. What a beautiful spring day to celebrate the joy of motherhood. Your Instagram feed is full of your friends and family posting photos of all the flowers, cards, and kids artwork they received. Captions about how happy and blessed they are to be moms. So many photos of other people’s babies. For many women, Mother’s Day is one of their favorite days.
But for women who are hoping to adopt, it can be one of the worst days of the year. A painful reminder that motherhood doesn’t come easily for some. It’s natural for you as a waiting mama to feel grief, to wonder: “Where is my baby? When will I get to celebrate?” Being a hopeful adoptive mom is so hard, and Mother’s Day certainly doesn’t help. Here are some Mother’s Day survival tips to help make this season livable.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 1: Allow yourself to feel
In the midst of your journey, all the pregnancy announcements you see can sting. Spending time around nieces and nephews might make you ache. Watching other hopeful adoptive families be placed with a child while you are still waiting can make you feel hopeless, especially if their wait time is shorter than yours. I bet you’re waiting for a speech about how comparison is the enemy of joy—because it is. But it still happens sometimes, and sometimes you need to allow it to happen.
it’s okay to feel how you feel. “Happy for her, but sad for me,” is a normal feeling. Try to stay positive, but don’t try to force yourself to be thrilled for them—it will only make you feel guilty when it doesn’t work. Be patient with yourself. Your feelings are valid, and you are allowed to feel pain. Allow emotions to come and go like house guests—you can let them in and chat with them, learning to understand them. But don’t let sorrow move in permanently. When the time is right, you send them on their way. After all, everything feels better after you’ve had a good cry.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 2: Find the right support
It’s likely that people who don’t share your experiences won’t understand what you’re feeling. Sometimes when you try to confide in others, they will simply tell you to keep your chin up that your time will come. It’s true—it will. But that doesn’t mean Mother’s Day feels good. Other people might even tell you that you’re being too negative and you need to just learn to be happy for others. You will find no shortage of people who will completely invalidate how you feel, whether intentional or not. Most people aren’t trying to be inconsiderate, it’s just difficult for them to empathize with such a unique experience.
Be selective with the people you talk with. No one understands what it’s like to run a marathon if they’re just watching from the sidelines. Seek out others who are sharing your journey. There are many online support groups, and some agencies offer support groups for waiting parents as well. Having friends to commiserate with will help you to feel less alone and have someone to talk to that won’t just give you a canned, “It’ll get better.”
If you have a partner, lean on them. You don’t have to go through this day alone—you are in this together. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about how difficult Mother’s Day is for you. They can help you by planning a date night for that day to help you get your mind off it or simply being a shoulder to cry on.
Being a waiting mama on top of life’s everyday stressors is emotionally taxing, and sometimes you need more than just a friend or partner who understands. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling for yourself, your partner, or both. A counselor or therapist who specializes in adoption or grief will be able to help you navigate through the triggers of Mother’s Day and any other issues you might face on your adoption journey. It’s worth the expense you might incur, for the sake of your future child, you need to be happy and healthy when you welcome them into your home. Check with your agency and insurance company to see what options are available for you.
Whichever way you decide to do it, creating a safe place for your vulnerabilities is vital for surviving the wait. You deserve a support system of people who will run the path with you.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 3: Stay off social media
Social media can be a great tool in your adoption search and to keep up with family and friends. But it can also make Mother’s Day harder. For so many hopeful adoptive moms, seeing posts from other moms is a huge trigger around Mother’s Day. One of the best things you can do when the sting of your empty arms flares up is stay off social media. Looking at idyllic Instagram posts by other moms will not help you. It’s not going to hurt cousin Amy if you don’t like and comment on her baby pictures for a few days or weeks, and it will certainly help you.
It’s okay to avoid unnecessary triggers. Deleting Facebook and Instagram doesn’t mean avoiding your issues, it means choosing not to aggravate your pain. You are not being too sensitive; you’re just doing what you need to do to be happy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that life isn’t picture perfect for anyone, even if it seems that way. Photos people choose to share often give a false representation of real life. They get sad too. They have tears and grief too. But for you right now, the life of a mother, no matter how hard, is your dream. It’s okay to take a break from all the reminders of what you don’t have right now in order to stay sane.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 4: Treat Yo’self
Just because you’re still waiting to become a mother doesn’t mean you don’t deserve breakfast in bed and flowers. Make Mother’s Day a day to honor your journey! You have been waiting, maybe for a long time, and that deserves recognition. Go get a massage or a mani-pedi. Celebrate the strong, tenacious woman that you are—not everyone would fight as hard as you do to reach their dreams. Self-care doesn’t always mean chocolate cake and candles, but today that might be just the right thing. Buy yourself a new pair of shoes or play hooky from work and go to a movie instead. Treat yo’self, girl!
Make it a day to celebrate with friends. Try to get together with your girlfriends and have brunch or a girls’ night out. Whether it’s because they are struggling with infertility, hoping to adopt, or any other reason, there are a lot of women out there who could probably use an invitation to do something fun this Mother’s Day.
Sometimes the waiting can take a toll on your romantic relationship. Now could be a great time to go away for a weekend with your partner to recharge and reconnect. Take some time to celebrate your family, even if it’s just the two of you for now. Focusing on building your relationship or marriage can help take the edge off the pain of the holiday and make you both better, more united parents in the future.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 5: Keep it in perspective
You’re allowed to be sad, but there are things you can do to cheer yourself up. Remember that it’s not an “if” it happens, it’s a “when” you’ll meet your new son or daughter. You’re just waiting patiently for what is meant to be. Someday you will be the mama who wakes up to sloppy toddler kisses on Mother’s Day. It will come. Let the hope of the future mingle with the longing of today. Let it be bittersweet.
This may sound cheesy, but count your blessings—it works. As difficult as this journey is, as much heartbreak as you have faced, there are tiny miracles along the way if you look for them. Maybe you have a great social worker, or your profile book looks awesome. Maybe your mom has been very understanding, or you met a really amazing expectant mom who helped you see things in a new way, even if it didn’t work out. You have other great things going on in your life too. Good jobs, a cute dog, maybe fun neighbors, or a supportive church community. Even though the wait is hard, life is still good. Seek out the glimmers of hope and beauty in your life, and your search to adopt will start to feel more like a journey than a stagnant wait.
One way to help process the complex emotions that Mother’s Day brings, and to keep things in perspective, is to write a letter to your future child. Tell them about how much you long for and love them. Tell them about your excitement as well as your disappointments. Writing out your feelings is a way to lay it all out and see things as they really are. And someday when your child is old enough, they will read that letter and know how much they were loved, even before they were born.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 6: Stay Busy
When trying to get through Mother’s Day, and just the wait in general, it’s important to stay busy. We can’t just sit and hope and dream and wait all day, even if that’s all we really want to do. Don’t put your life on hold, that will only make everything worse. With the waiting game, it’s sink or swim. You will have plenty of time to stay at home when your baby is here. For now, go outside, focus on your career, your marriage, your other family relationships, your pets—whatever it is that makes you happy.
Come up with new activities or side projects. For some hopeful adoptive moms, it helps to knit little outfits or design a nursery. You don’t have to spend much money on it, but little crafts or deciding where to put the crib can help you stay hopeful.
For others, spending a lot of time planning only makes the waiting feel longer, that’s normal and okay. Instead, you can spend today planning a weekend away with your spouse or find a service activity to get involved in. Show the world your inner Joanna Gaines by redecorating your home, or pull a Marie Kondo and declutter from top to bottom. Whatever it is, staying busy and productive will help you be content with your life in its present state, and that’s important. Find activities that spark joy.
Mother’s Day Survival Tip 7: Call your mama
Other people’s motherhood might be painful for you, but what about your own mom? If you have a good relationship with her, focus on making her day special. Getting outside of yourself can help when you’re hurting. Your mother can be one of your greatest allies during your wait and beyond, so make sure she knows how much you appreciate her. Spending a few hours out to lunch or on the phone with her can help you get your mind off the hurt for a while.
Mother’s Day is hard. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to struggle. I believe in you. You are going to get through this. These guidelines are a starting point, just a few of many ideas that might work for you to help you cope. But you’ve got this. The fact that you’re reading this article is a sign that you are being proactive in caring for yourself. You have the strength to wait as long as it takes, and you will make it through this day. Just 24 hours. It will end soon. Just do your best. And remember, when all else fails, it helps to have a good cry.
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.