M.O.M. or “Mentors Of Many” Day (for many of us)
Cheers, dear readers!
The time is upon us once again – the day in the United States when we recognize with love, adoration, and gratitude all mothers. During my childhood and a large portion of my adult life, I spent this day celebrating my own mother (and my maternal grandmother when she was alive). That was all fine and good. Taking mom out for brunch so that she did not have to cook for our hungry mouths was always a welcome treat for all us. We were even more forgiving and jovial when she would say completely inappropriate things in public as my wonderful yet highly eccentric mom was want to do. I would however vigorously pray to the powers that be that she wouldn’t lick her plate in public. “No mom, please don’t! Oh, the embarrassment!” We all have one of those stories of being embarrassed by our parents, don’t we? It’s all good. Now that my mother has passed away, these stories are endearing and sweet to me. Thanks mom for being uniquely and unapologetically you! What a marvel you were. Looking back, I really value the memories we created honoring my mom on mother’s days, and at other times of the year as well – the stuff that brings a glean to the eye.
As a 40-something infertility survivor of “Generation IVF” though, Mother’s Day comes with some dread for me (and others in my shoes) and some trepidation. As the onslaught of signs, advertisements, urges to buy presents and cards celebrating all mothers – this is a constant and sometimes painful and mocking reminder of lost dreams and what might have been. Dreams that I once had that never came to fruition – dreams of giving my own mom a grandchild, dreams of creating my own traditional family unit. It can prove to be overwhelming, certainly disappointing, and at worst depressing – with no escape in sight. You’re trapped! Your own little den of emotional torture. Not a fun ride, I can tell you firsthand. Suffering in silence is challenging. And there are of course no special, fun holidays for the involuntarily childless.
I will say it was even more painful when I was actually smack in the middle of the storm working with doctors at my local infertility center – when I was literally praying every single day that this month, that elusive positive pregnancy test would reveal itself to me finally. Mother’s Day at that time felt like a knife right through the heart, and my (hopefully-not-but-what-if-it-is) barren womb. BARREN. What a horrible word. Bleck! That can’t be me! When I was in the throes of infertility treatments, I literally could not emotionally deal with being with other mothers on Mother’s Day. My husband and I would go out to grab a meal at a local pub where they were sure not to have a big, fancy Mothers’ Day brunch, or we avoided the restaurant scene altogether, or spent time with others who did not have children of their own. It was just easier, and frankly at different points, it was the only way I could survive the day. Sometimes we have to be very gentle with ourselves during the most difficult or stressful times of our lives, doing whatever we have to do to not allow ourselves to dwell in despair, deep sadness, or the woe-is-me’s for too long. It just does not serve us or our loved ones who have to be around us to dwell deep in any sadness for extended periods of time.
So with that, here are some tips to survive Mother’s Day in your part of the world when you are on your own infertility journey:
- Be kind and gentle to yourself – Pamper yourself with a bubble bath, a massage, or reading a great fiction book to take your mind off of your journey if you need to.
- “And now for something completely different! – Consider having an outing with your significant other that focuses on the love you share doing something that you enjoy. You can celebrate the day with just the two of you going to a botanical garden, or a museum, or whatever you fancy that may not be “traditional”.
- Spend time on Mother’s Day with loved ones who “get it” – Seek out friends and family who will be empathetic with you and your journey, people you trust to “have your back” and to be cautious with their words to you.
- If needed, decline invitations to Mother’s Day brunch outings with peers – Give yourself permission to take a pass on a traditional mother’s day outing with friends with small children or expecting parents.
- Focus on your own mom or grandmothers – Make a special effort to remember the generations ahead of you, and celebrate their gifts that they have given you over the years, and the wonderful example of nurturing and mothering they offer.
Speaking of nurturing and mothering, last year, I proposed a concept that a good friend of mine, Pamela Tsigdinos introduced. Consider not only celebrating the mothers in your life, but also the Mentors Of Many. There are so many ways that we all nurture, educate, guide and take others under our wing. Not all of those experiences have to do with giving birth to a baby. There are many of us on this great planet of ours that give our gifts to the world in other ways. Take a moment to celebrate those people in our life as well as yourself! You are a lovely and wonderful human being. Don’t be shy about shining your light and your gifts, with the rest of us. We are waiting to see your beauty and your strength!
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.