Who needs Mother’s Day? Every spring we hear the same commercials, urging children of all ages to purchase a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers and, of course, the obligatory card. Mothers will be celebrated for giving life and bearing years of sacrifices to raise their children. I will give my mother a gift, and my child will give me a gift. The circle of life.
I did not think I needed that reminder, but that was before I heard Mara’s story. She broke the circle of life.
“It wasn’t supposed to be that way,” she told me one day. Her eyes fixated on a row of drawings that I had taped on the kitchen door. On Mother’s Day I will get another drawing, maybe two, from our son depicting maybe a house, some flowers and a tree. Oh yes – I almost forgot – somewhere on the picture will be a Pokemon. In his mind, you have to draw a Pokemon whenever you can.
Mara shook her head. “We wanted to have two kids. Well, at least two. Gosh, we wasted a bunch of money on all sorts of fertility treatments. Nothing worked. Nothing whatsoever.” She sighed and took a sip of coffee. “It wasn’t supposed to be.”
I chewed my lips. Should I tell her that we also wanted to have two kids? Tell her that I understood her feelings? But how could I understand her if I was blessed with a child? “I’m sorry,” I said instead.
“No, it’s fine now.” Mara forced a smile. “Really. Chris and I love our freedom. We try to see the positive side of not having to raise kids. It’s just difficult sometimes when you live in a military community, you know.”
I nodded. I knew exactly what she meant. “Yes, a lot of pregnant young women and little kids everywhere.”
Mara nodded and pointed at the drawings. “What on earth are those little creatures supposed to be?”
This conversation happened months ago, but I cannot get it out of my mind. I know there are many women who wish to hold a baby in their arms. You pray and plead with God. You swallow tablets, herbs, a cocktail of daily vitamins and teas. You try acupuncture, yoga, ovulation prediction kits, and chart your temperatures. You crave a cup of coffee in the morning but drink water instead. Just in case. Every month you hold onto the straw. Then the blood comes and with it the tears.
Often, you suffer this hurt in secret. You can eat, sleep and think. You are healthy and smart. Who needs to know that you cannot get pregnant? Instead, you smile and tell people that you are still working on your career, that you have decided to wait a few more years and that you are happy right now.
I know. I used to be one of those women.
On Mother’s Day I would give my mom a bouquet of flowers and wish her a happy day. That was it. No card, no hugs, no drawings for me. Every year she would say that I should not have spent the money and that Mother’s Day was just a big commercial fuss.
Yes, I needed Mara’s reminder. Being able to give birth to a child is not a given fact of a woman’s life. It is a blessing. Many women will hug their mothers this month, grateful for all the sacrifices and challenges their mothers have endured. Many will be praying this month that one day their own child will hug them.
My heart goes out to all of you who wish to become mothers. May God answer your prayers.
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