I wrote about being a mother the other day, and posted a picture I like to call, "The Desires of my Heart." Even though the words were completely from my heart, I felt a little bad after posting it. I felt guilty for posting such a happy and content picture of my own, when there are so many who don't have the desires of their hearts. The women who dread Mother's Day every year.
It wasn't that long ago that I was one of those women. I remember a Mother's Day probably 11-12 years ago, when I dreaded going to church and going through the whole, "Will all of the mothers please stand up (so we can all see their beaming faces and clap for them for being so happy and content)" Okay, so I added the part in parenthesis, but that is how that church-y Mother's Day practice made me feel every year. (My kind husband suggested we skip church that particularly bad-feeling day, and head for a day of fun at a local amusement park. I love that man!)
I so desperately wanted to join the Mommy Club, so I could understand the knowing smiles and nods when topics like enough sleep or breastfeeding came up. I wanted to walk through those cute baby accessory aisles in Target without feeling like an intruder. I wanted the golden baby ticket to be admitted to our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, dangit! I just wanted to be able to do the one thing I felt my life's purpose was intended: Be a mother.
It always felt so unfair when acquaintances of mine could get pregnant so easily. They would say things like, "I get pregnant if I look at my husband wrong" or "Just call me fertile Myrtle." One especially hurtful thing I remember is sitting around a prayer group of moms. (I actually had our first daughter at the time, but was sad and depressed about not being able to have another--a sweet sibling for our daughter.) I remember one girl in particular, who already had 4 children in quick succession, was sharing her prayer request to have a 5th child. She talked about how easy it had been to get pregnant with her other 4, and she just couldn't understand WHY she wasn't able to get pregnant with her 5th. She told us she was so sad that she hadn't been able to get pregnant in the previous couple of months...so that she could complete her quiver. (an archery term used in Christian circles, which means the container for 5 arrows.)
Complete her QUIVER??? Seriously? She was sad because she couldn't seem to have her 5th child??? That just seemed so unfair to me at the time. There were a couple of other moms in that circle who had struggled with infertility and miscarriages, and I always wondered what they thought about that prayer, too...
Now, please hear me: I totally understand that every woman is in a different part of her journey. Some journeys are especially bumpy at times, while others seem smooth. All journeys take different paths, at different speeds. Every single one of us has secret unanswered longings and desires. But, in the middle of my own longing for a baby, I wasn't able to understand that logic. Plus, I just wanted to have a pity party. I'll be honest--I felt sorry for myself, and secretly wanted others to also.
I realize my story has a happy ending...we have 2 beautiful daughters. As soon as we had our 2nd daughter, I knew our family was complete. I was just so utterly grateful to have been given 2 such amazing gifts, that I DIDN'T DARE ask for more. I don't dare try to have more children...more months and years of longing, and secret tears, and trashcans full of negative pregnancy tests, and enormous fertility doctor bills with no results except disappointment...
Even though our sad infertility story has a happy ending, I promised myself, all those dark years back, that I wouldn't forget. If ever I got pregnant, I wouldn't forget how it felt to be longing, and childless. I promised myself I forever would be sensitive to other women. Women whose arms are empty, or unfulfilled--whether by infertility, singleness, miscarriage, or whose sweet born babies were taken to heaven.
That's not to say I've been perfect in this sensitivity. I can think of 2 times (that I know of), where I have made glaring, horrible, I can't believe I said that, mistakes. One of them I was able to apologize and ask forgiveness. The other? It still makes me cringe what I said. I should go to that mama these 7 years later and make it right. I spoke out of my own frustration and pity party. But, what I said was unfair to her. To her own journey.
So, if Mother's Day was sad or uncomfortable for you, I am so sorry. I hope your church didn't make all the moms around you stand up. I know some of your stories, and when I see you at baby showers, or in church when the topic of children or motherhood comes up, in my heart, I am putting my arm around your shoulders. I know you don't want my pity. But, you sure do have my understanding.