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A Mother's Day Catch-22

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a blog by CGD, May 6, 2011

Recently, I was on the phone with my mother. We were discussing what to do this year for Mother’s Day. Without me asking, she gave me an out, telling me that I don’t have to be there this year given everything that is going on.

This will be the fifth Mother’s Day since we have been trying to conceive with no baby or baby bump in sight. I tried to think if I have ever missed a Mother’s Day celebration during this time, and I am really not sure. I know I thought about it and even vocalized my intent to not attend, but I’m not sure if I ever actually followed through.

For me, the hard part is that, while Mother’s Day itself is no picnic, the guilt that comes with not showing up is not so easy either. It’s a catch 22, I end up feeling bad either way. For me, it has always been hard to the escape the thoughts of what I “should” be doing. This guilty conscience has been with me my entire life, I just think that trying to conceive and infertility brings out more of it.

I often find myself choosing between something I would rather not do vs. feeling guilty. Since I am a big guilt-avoider, I think you can guess which side wins this battle.

For years, my husband has been reminding me that just because I am not a mother does not mean that I do not have things to celebrate on Mother’s Day. I have a wonderful mother, who after going through some medical crises this year, deserves to be celebrated. I also have a mother-in-law and one adorable, living grandmother. I am a lucky girl. I do know this. But, as I have reminded my husband before, Mother’s Day is still hard.

I have tried a few things over the years to make this day a little more palatable. I have celebrated on Saturday instead of Sunday. I have avoided restaurants, which are usually crowded and full of families and opted for quieter family meals at home instead. It helps, kind of. At least it gives you the illusion of having some control over a situation that in reality is uncontrollable.

What I can control, though, is who I am celebrating. I am happy to celebrate my mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. I am even happy to celebrate my aunt, with whom I have a very special and close relationship. This day, at least in my head, is reserved for the special women in MY life, not for celebrating motherhood in general.

Somehow this is a relief to me. I can get behind a celebration of these amazing women, but it is a lot harder for me to embrace motherhood as a general institution — likely until I become part of that group myself.

As I was writing this post, my mother actually called me. Once again, she gave me an out for this weekend. This is why I love her. I interpret her offer of an out as some acknowledgment of how hard this is for me. I cannot begin to tell you how comforting this is and how much it makes me actually want to show up for Mother’s Day, especially because now I know that I don’t even have to.

Feeling like I have a choice and feeling understood, what more could I possibly ask for — aside from a baby, of course? I have a great mother, clearly.

So along those lines, I dedicate this post to my mother. If I could someday be even half the mother that she is, then I would surely be doing something right ...

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