Mother’s Day can be a difficult holiday for those of us who wish for nothing more than to be mothers but for whatever reason are not. I admit that the first few years that we were struggling with infertility I struggled through Mother’s Day, feeling sorry for myself and wondering why we weren’t able to have children when it seemed like everyone around us was, when friends of ours were having one, two, even three kids in the time we were trying to have one without any success. It was difficult to get through talks at church that mentioned how God trusted or loved them enough to give them children. Did that mean that God didn’t love me or that God didn’t trust me? I knew that this definitely was not the case, but the words still stung. I’m sure that when people say things like that they don’t think about how someone unable to have children might take those words. I know probably every woman that battles with infertility keeps a mental list of insensitive things that are said to her about not being able to have children. I won’t tell you about the most insensitive thing someone said to me when the subject of children came up because it’s baffling.
Okay, okay, I’ll tell you because I know you’re curious now. When people ask me when we’re going to have children I’m never really sure what to say—should I be completely honest and just say we haven’t been able to have kids yet, or is it really none of their business and therefore should I just say something generic like “hopefully someday?” I usually tend to go with the latter but it depends on who I’m talking to.
Anyway, I was asked the question about kids by someone and I just decided to say that we’d been trying for awhile and hadn’t been able to have kids yet. I can’t remember exactly what he said next but he told me some story and at the end he said this: “I would rather have my mom die than not be able to have kids.” Ummmm. What? Did you not just hear me tell you that we haven’t been able to have children? Do you realize what you just said to me—that basically the worst thing in the world for you would be to be in my situation, even worse than having your own MOTHER die? Way to verbally punch someone when they’re down. I don’t think he gave what he said a second thought. Anyway, my point is that people can be insensitive without even thinking about it. I’m sure we’ve all done it. It’s difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re completely unfamiliar with their situation.
That was a major aside from my original thought, so back to Mother’s Day. The past few years I've felt more comfortable with our situation, if that’s the right word to use. Of course it’s still difficult. Of course there are still times when I feel frustrated, alone, envious, angry, sad, etc., but I guess I don’t dwell on it like I used to. It’s still my greatest desire to have children, but life has to go on and we’re doing all that we can. There are lots of other wonderful things in my life that I can focus on. We still have a family; it's just a family of two (three if you count our crazy dog-child) for now. I know that God has a plan for me and is guiding my life in the right direction. So yesterday on Mother’s Day I was feeling pretty good. I chose to focus not on my own situation and the fact that I’m not a mother, but rather on my own wonderful mother who is an inspiration to me. I thought about how I lucked out on having a mom-in-law who thinks of me as her own daughter. I thought about my sister who is about to be a mom for a second time.
As we walked into the chapel yesterday the man handing out programs was greeting women by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day (makes sense, right?).” To the woman in front of us he asked, “Are you a mother?” She replied that she wasn’t. I can’t remember exactly what happened, I’m not sure if he got distracted, but there was an awkward moment where he kind of pulled the program away from her and she said something like, “Oh, I don’t get one then?” and walked away kind of unsure of what to do. It was awkward and possibly a hurtful moment for the woman. I was next in line and I was dreading the question I knew was coming. How was I going to avoid a similarly awkward situation? Sure enough he asked me if I was a mother. Without time to think, I responded by saying, “No, I’m not, but it’s okay.” I smiled, took my program, and went to sit down. I didn’t really think anything of it until last night. Was I really okay with not being a mother? I couldn’t stop thinking about my role as a 27-year-old, married, LDS woman without children, about our journey with infertility, and about how Mother’s Day was a good day for me this year. I know that we will be parents eventually and one day I will be able to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mother, and when someone asks me if I am a mother I will be able to say “YES!” But, for now, I can say, “No, I’m not, but it’s okay.”