Mother’s Day and Its Complicated and Confusing Emotions

Mother’s Day . . . It’s complicated.

Narda Emett May 08, 2016
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Mother’s Day . . . It’s complicated. The first challenging Mother’s Day for me was in May 1996. Technically, I was a mother. I had delivered a baby via C-section in October 1995. He was very premature and passed away in my arms the day after his birth.

That Mother’s Day, I was keenly aware of my empty arms and broken heart. I didn’t really want to go to church. At our church on Mother’s Day, all mothers stand to receive some token of thanks for being a mother. How awkward would that be? If I stood, would people look at me with pity? If I didn’t stand, would people quietly remind me that I am a mother (just without a child to hold)?

I went. I stood at the encouragement of my husband. No big deal, right? I felt numb. I tried to focus all my thoughts that day on how blessed I was to have such a great mother and mother-in-law. I made it through the day.

1997 and 1998 brought pain and more tears. I still had empty arms. Fertility drugs were making me feel crazy (and weren’t working at all). I awkwardly stood each year to receive my thanks for being a mother. But I still didn’t have anyone to “mother.” Mother’s Day 1999 brought more hope. We had been approved for adoption and were working with an adoption agency. I felt at peace at least knowing that we were doing everything possible to become parents. Again, I turned my focus to my own mother and wonderful mother-in-law. Our first child was placed with us November 1, 1999, a beautiful baby girl. I thought Mother’s Day was about to get easier, but come May 2000, I was faced with the most conflicted feelings I’d ever experienced on this day. My feelings were bitter-sweet because as I held my daughter in my arms, I knew there was another mother with empty arms and a broken heart. I was sure she was feeling the same loss I had felt for four years. I was a mother, but at a cost to someone else. Each Mother’s Day since then, I think about the sweet gift three different birth mothers gave me by placing four children into our home. It has become a day of reflection and gratitude, and still, at times, tears. I have a friend who, like me, became a mother through adoption. I remember her speaking in church on Mother’s Day a few years ago and I could relate to her words. She said, “I used to cry every Mother’s Day because I was not a mother. Now I cry every Mother’s Day because I am a mother.” I am well aware that Mother’s Day can bring both joy and pain for a variety of reasons. So to those who painfully endure this day, remember that you are loved for whatever role you play in the lives of children: birth mother, aunt, sister, teacher, friend. Please remember that you are not alone nor forgotten on this day.

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Narda Emett

Narda Emett is a mother of six, four of whom were adopted. She has been part of the adoption community for over 16 years, serving on local and national boards for Families Supporting Adoption. She has adopted both domestically and internationally and is happy to be part of a transracial adoptive family. In her free time (does a mother of six ever have free time?), she likes to read and make amazing wedding cakes.


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