It’s that thing you say when you think folx won’t understand or when you simply don’t feel like explaining something to others. Sometimes it’s the thing you say when you’re trying to make sense of your position but in truth, it doesn’t even fully make sense to YOU so, it’s complicated.
It’s been a while since I wrote something and I was trying to figure out what was going on for me. A lot has happened in my life over the past few weeks and frankly, it’s complicated so I refuse to go into all of that here. Having said that, we all know it was recently Mother’s Day and I’ve got some stuff to say about that. Like to hear it, here it go!
Oh Mother’s Day… how did you spend it? I spent it at home. I don’t think it was a very nice day here in the northeast anyway but I’m also not really about the hustle and bustle of holiday shenanigans most of the time. I’m not down to wait ridiculous amounts of time for overbooked and overpriced restaurants just so I can post a few photos with my mom. Mother’s Day is complicated for a lot of folx for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you don’t have the greatest relationship with your mother… maybe you are really close with your mom but you’re broke, maybe your mom was absentee, maybe you were placed for adoption which can raise all kinds of complicated feelings. Maybe your mom is deceased… maybe you have wanted to be a mom forever but haven’t been able to conceive… maybe you’re an adoptive mom… maybe you’ve been able to conceive but lost your children early or later in life. How then, do you “celebrate” mother’s day? How do you identify yourself when you don’t necessarily have a person to show for it?
Some angel mom’s identify as mom’s, some do not. That’s really all about personal preference AND in a lot of cases, recognition by larger society and support systems. Believe it or not, there are groups of people who only believe you’re a mom if you have living children. I personally think that’s confusing being a mother with parenting. One is a noun, one is verb. One is an identity, one is an action. I’m always floored at the audacity of people who think it’s ok to tell someone else how to identify. I mean, who gave you permission to tell me what space I can occupy?! So herein lies the complication: what if I identify as a mother and want to be acknowledged for that BUT I also don’t want to be reminded of all the ways I cannot and will not be able to parent the children I mothered? Then what do I do on a holiday like Mother’s Day…?
Last Mother’s Day, I was pregnant with my girls. It was the first time I celebrated the holiday and I was so excited about things to come. I remember opening my first card from my mom which almost instantly had me in tears. I ALSO remember leaving that card up for months after losing the girls because I couldn’t bring myself to part with recognition of my identity as a mother. Full disclosure: I didn’t take the card down until February of 2018! This Mother’s Day, I had some very complex feelings. I’m a new mom at this point to a living child which feels great AND is a reminder that my girls aren’t here at times. *Remember I operate in the both/and more than the either/or so follow me y’all.* It’s crazy to look at your child and feel both so much joy and appreciation for how the universe brought them to you and simultaneously feel incredible sadness for all you’ll never see from the children you lost. It’s crazy to feel justified in your sadness AND embarrassed about it. It’s crazy to feel overjoyed and proud of your new active role AND guilty about it at the same time. It’s crazy to feel grateful for the “Happy First Mother’s Day” wishes AND slightly disrespected by it because, this isn’t you’re first Mother’s Day.
These emotions are real folx and oh so complicated to explain and feel validation from others. So what happens? Sometimes we hold it in. We hold in our conflicted feelings and put on a happy face so others don’t judge us. We smile through clenched teeth fighting back the urge to scream out about our lost little ones. Or we relish in the acknowledgement and stuff the lingering feelings of grief behind happy eyes. Angel mom’s (and angel parents in general) exist in this complex space navigating when to explain their situation and when to let it ride. This happens all too often as we field questions about how many children we have, when we’ll have children, do we want more children, how your mother’s day or father’s day or parent’s day was, why we don’t have children, etc. In the midst of all this, we know people don’t usually want to hear the struggle. No one really wants to hear the sad things that can happen… especially not when children are involved. It’s actually kind of funny, in a sadistic way, to watch the faces of others when you answer their questions about children honestly. This nurse once said to me, “You don’t have any kids?! You gotta have some kids soon!” to which I responded, “I lost them back in June.” I kept a straight face and stared her right in the eyes . She looked away and said, “oh, I’m so sorry..” and fumbled for her words. I interrupted her and told her to be mindful of her assumptions because you never know a person’s story or struggles. That heifer took my blood pressure silently and left the room so quickly I had to crack up as the door shut. Hopefully she learned a lesson…
So, when taking part in these holiday’s that may rub up against a person’s desired identity, be mindful that it’s complicated for a lot of folx. There may be times when some angel parent feels like schooling you and there may be times when they don’t but regardless, try to avoid assumptions. If you’re an angel parent and you’re reading this, I hope some of it resonates. Know that I see you, I respect you, and this journey is complicated for me too. My hope is that my transparency will help open some conversations in your own lives and some empathy in others.
As always, sending healing vibes and lots of <3 out to you!