Community *Sparks: An Unsentimental Mother's Day
Today we honor the mothers who did not get to experience motherhood the way they thought they once would. We are so grateful to Storycatchers community member, Jessica Haessly, for sharing with us her thoughts about celebrating (or not celebrating) Mother's Day after the loss of her twin girls, Darling and Mae.
You can read Jessica's original post and the rest of her blog HERE.
An Unsentimental Mother’s Day
We have two daughters somewhere beyond the veil of this world. It’s been three years since their passing on November 28, 2014, 23 weeks gestation, never a breath taken outside the womb. I have ultrasound pictures of them from when they were alive. I have a few pictures of them after delivery that hospital staff took for us. They have all of their limbs, fingernails, every facial feature, even color in their eyes. In the first few months after their passing, I cried a lot. One year after their delivery, my husband and I hosted a birthday party for them, inviting friends and family to lunch and cake and a special balloon-release, where invitees were welcome to write in black sharpie on red balloons a few words to them before collectively releasing them into a perfect blue sky. There are no rules for grieving. There are no rules for celebrating the life and death of loved ones. But after the first year, it’s hard to know exactly what one should do to keep alive the memory of human beings who never took a breath in this world.
Year 2, Michael and I just took time to ourselves. November 28th fell on a Monday. We took off work, spent time together, flipped through our photo album, and I posted their album pics to Facebook for the first time. This year will be year 3. They don’t live where we can see them. What do we do? Every Mother’s Day since 2015, my sister has sent me flowers, a few people close to me wish me Happy Mother’s Day. But it’s not a celebratory thing in the way it is for people who have living children. And I’m not an overly sentimental person. The further away from their death, the less I feel compelled to call myself a “mother,” and it has nothing to do with whether or not I have the right to and everything to do with what that title means in the greater social context. We’ve often painted Mother’s Day as a day in which mother’s get to relax from their mothering. They exchange pampering others for being pampered. I have even created a special Mother’s Day Candlelight Yin Yoga event specifically with that idea in mind. Moms have a chance to win a bouquet of flowers and a basket filled with wine, chocolates, and other items to help ease some of the stress of being a mother.
In 2015, I spoke at my church on Mother’s Day about the importance of recognizing all moms, even those who don’t have living or biological children. In closing, I asked every woman who identifies as a mom to come up and stand in a line behind me to be recognized. I stated that what makes a mom is her love for her children. I still believe this. And I love Darling and Mae. In 2016 I went to church on Mother’s Day, listened to the message, and along with others received a mug and a journal upon which was painted a scripture about bringing forth abundant life. This year, 2017, I have decided not to attend church on Mother’s Day. I have set my goals and plans toward things other than mothering. 3 years, and no sign of physical life growing in me. I don’t feel the need to celebrate my motherhood or my love for my daughters. They know. I know. That is all that matters. I’m not interested in being looked upon as some tragic hero for my loss, or put in situations where my presence, or even a brief mention of Darling and Mae cause people to feel uncomfortable. What does a mother do in her 3rd year without child?
I will celebrate my mom, my mom-in-law, my sister, and my sister-in-law. I will extend a silent celebratory prayer for my friends and family and all those I know to be mothers, whether of living or biological children or not. On the morning of Mother’s Day 2017, I will take my husband to work. I will enjoy some time alone in prayer and meditation. I will practice yoga. I will have tea or coffee and read. I will pet the cats, and prepare a brunch for my sisters and mom. I will have a mimosa or two. I will prepare for my Mother’s Day Candlelight Yin class. I will pick up my husband from work and we will embrace and kiss. I will teach my class, go home, have some wine, and probably watch one of the new MST3K episodes that we’ve been working our way through since it first arrived on Netflix. Perhaps sometime throughout the day someone will mention Darling and Mae, and certainly I will think of them. And then I will think of other things and other people. I will continue to live. And another Mother’s Day will pass.
About Jessica Haessley (via her BLOG): In a time when many of us crave more gadgets, more convenience, more money, and more noise, I find myself more interested in finding ways to feasibly pair down my use of gadgets and money, to cut out the noise, and dive right into the beautiful silence of meditation, book reading, and simply being.