For most women, Mother’s Day conjures up loving images of family reunions where everyone is gathered around the family matriarch presenting her with gifts and flowers. But this is not my truth, nor is it the truth for 6.1 million American women of childbearing age.
Unfortunately, for some of us, Mother’s Day isn’t all roses and sweetness. For some of us, Mother’s Day is a hurtful reminder that infertility has robbed us of ever being a mother to our own biological children.
Over my decade of unexplained infertility, the most important lesson that I have learned is that it is far better to mother myself than mourn the loss of my motherhood.
This is how I’ve learned to MOTHER myself:
I practice being mindful of my thoughts, especially on Mother’s Day when negative or depressing thoughts can pop up throughout the day. These thoughts have the potential to send me on a downward spiral. As soon as I realize that a negative thought is starting to take hold, I ask myself: ‘Is it true’? When you look at the truth behind a thought, you’ll find that most of the time it is a false truth created by our subconscious based on our limiting beliefs. Once I’ve determined that the thought isn’t true, I choose a positive new thought.
I may not be the mother to my own biological children, but I am the mother to furry and feathered kids. So, I give each of my cats, dogs, and parrots extra love, treats, and toys and relish in their unconditional love. I also volunteer with animal rescue organizations. Bottle-feeding a newborn kitten or taking a shelter dog for a walk is an act of love that allows me to still tap into my maternal instincts.
It’s so easy to beat ourselves up on Mother’s Day but I’ve found that practicing self-love is the best way to overcome the moments of sadness. My favorite ways to treat myself are to have a long soak in a hot bath with rose petals and candles, indulging in my favorite bottle of wine, or treating myself to a massage and mani-pedi. I may not be a mother, but I am still a woman.
As strong as I may appear on the outside, I’m still dealing with grief on the inside. Infertility grief is like a double-edged sword. On one side you’re mourning the loss of children that will never be conceived, and on the other side, you’re grieving the betrayal of your own body. Mother’s Day is a perfect day for you to honor your grief and broken dreams. I make sure that I set aside alone time during the day to write down my thoughts and feelings. Journaling can be quite therapeutic and it’s ok to cry while doing so. Your mind needs to release all the words and your soul needs to release all the emotions.
My husband and I plan our day’s activities to avoid places that are frequented by families. Restaurant and shop employees are trained to wish every female a happy Mother’s Day, and although this is quite innocent, it still feels like a little stab through the heart. So, we don’t do any grocery shopping or go out to eat at family-friendly restaurants. Instead, we might spend a quiet day at home binging on movies and popcorn.
Some years, if we plan far enough in advance, we might go away for a romantic weekend in a mountain cabin or book into an adults-only resort. Being alone with my husband, or with other adults, and away from all the commercialism of Mother’s Day, helps me forget the holiday altogether.
Mother’s Day has become so widely commercialized that it is almost impossible to pretend that it is just another Sunday in May. But with a little planning, infertile women can still have a wonderful day without the sting of being reminded that they are childless.
Being infertile on Mother’s Day is not a state anyone wishes to find themselves in. However, it is a state that we can all transcend by breaking through our limiting beliefs, finding our authentic selves, and honoring the women that we are.