I got my hair cut today and as I was waiting to pay my bill, I heard the receptionist say to the woman ahead of me--Happy Mother's Day. The woman responded, I never had children. Neither, it turned out, did the receptionist. When she said this to the woman, I could see they shared a moment of understanding.
When I approached the receptionist, I quietly told her Mother's Day is a painful reminder not only for women who never had children--and wanted to--but also for those whose child had died, or were like me, a woman whose only child had been relinquished and adopted. In years past I might have ignored her well-meant gesture, but I'd known her for a while and felt comfortable speaking up. Besides, she had several more days to remind other mothers of loss that this godawful holiday was upon us.There's no way around how much a trigger Mother's Day is for mothers of relinquishment, whether you call us biological mothers, birth mothers, first mothers or natural (same as biological) mothers. I've been through the gamut of emotions myself, beginning when I did not know where my daughter was (a nightmare), and my own mother did not even know my daughter existed (no one to share the blues), to those years after reunion when I tried to ignore the hoopla the week preceding the big day, always hoping she would remember me in some small way. But alas, she often did not. (A good day to dig in the garden.)
|The card Jane sent one year. |
Mother's Day for women who have had other children is different than it is for me, one of the approximately one third who never had another child after relinquishing a child. The others will be honored by the children they were able to keep
|Lorraine, her granddaughter, and Jane in 1993.|
SPEAKING UP TRUTHFULLY
As for me, I just suck it up and wait for the damn day to be over. It's only one day, I remind myself. After my reunion with my daughter, when she was married, she did a whole lot better remembering--especially after I told her that her ignoring me on the day--was hurtful. Once I got a handmade card that said: To my Other Mother. Inside it says: "I couldn't find a
Now my daughter is gone--she died more than a decade ago--as well as my mother, and I realize the day is mine to deal with as I choose. I could mope all day. Or not. It is a given that throughout the day I will let thoughts of my mother, and my daughter, flit by with sweet sadness. My mother died two decades ago. We fought when I was growing up, but she was the rock I leaned on when I went to college against some odds, and later, when I went public about being a woman who relinquished a child and argued for unsealing birth certificates, she encouraged me. "Everyone must want to know where they came from," she said. Despite what others thought in the senior-apartment complex in our home town, she held her head up. I admired her courage for surely there was gossip.
|My mother, Victoria Wrozek Dusky|
in her twenties
We've all got something. But I will admit that since my daughter's passing, the way I handle the day is different from when she was alive and I did not know where she was, or how she was. Dealing with her death was a matter of mourning, of accepting and accommodating grief, but also knowing that she was at last at peace. The grief wasn't trapped in some damn limbo of closed adoption that leaves you wondering if your child is dead or alive, and you are supposed to just stuff it down, pretend that you are not dying inside. That kind of grief is insanely consuming, and never changes. You can stomp it down--otherwise you will go crazy--but it's still there like a sore that will not heal to the scar phase. When she died, I could grieve publicly, I did not have to pretend that I was "okay" within days or weeks of her dying.
DON'T JUST STAND THERE AND WEEP...
So for those mothers without children who will be a part of your life on Sunday, and children whose original mothers fill their thoughts, make a plan: Call a friend or someone else who might otherwise be alone. In the era of Covid, doing the ordinary things such as going to a museum, taking in a movie (a comedy!), or even having lunch with a friend is complicated and maybe not possible. If the weather permits, and you're a gardener, dig in. Others might do yoga, go for a longer run or bike ride than usual, or even--clean out your closets. Throw out 31 things, I heard someone say that the other day. Why 31? I don't know, but it sounds like a reasonable goal. The mental rewards of throwing out stuff is not to be denigrated; it leaves room for the new. Cleaning closets is highly underrated.
And remember, come Monday it will not be Mother's Day for another blessed 364 days!--lorraine
PS: I began writing an addendum about the noxious "Birth Mother's Day," the Saturday before Mother's Day, but I became annoyed about such a ridiculous day, designed to normalize giving up a child, that I quit. Supposedly it was started by a first mother herself. But when I Googled "Birth Mother's Day," it led to gifts for the occasion and adoption-agency sites. If we want to acknowledge our grief on this day, let us do it on our own, not through the conduit of our loss!