I have been ruminating on this subject for a few months now. I want to come clean and confess all that I need to in order for those of you who are mothers can understand a small part of what it feels like not to be one. Please note, this is not a sour grapes depressing revelation confession; just a here it is kind of confession. Maybe confession is too strong of a word. Possibly I just want to speak my truth. At any rate, here goes.
On a recent plane ride to California, I sat next to a young family. Mom on one side of the aisle with a not so happy two year old and a somewhat agreeable 4 year old and Dad next to me with his electronic device. Mind you, it was an evening flight, in fact dinner time, and a packed airplane. Mom looked exhausted before she even began and Dad, well, he was completely involved in his game.I watched and listened as this young mother negotiated, consoled, comforted, distracted and practically jumped through hoops to manage these two boys( did I mention they were boys!!!!) all the while her partner was mildly attentive but mostly annoyed. The threat kept being, "if you don't stop pulling my hair you will have to sit with daddy". It was shocking to me that the children responded to that threat and would temporarily suspend the bad behavior. At one point in our journey the mother just handed over the two year old in complete frustration and he proceeded to wail. Finally the Dad managed to soothe him by plugging the youngster into the video game that was playing. Without sounding too judgmental or damning, I was simply amazed at the dynamic between mother and father. The complete sacrifice this mom made to attend to her children and not stop for a minute, I was exhausted for her.
I wanted to smack Dad.
When we arrived home in California , we discovered that a Mourning Dove had made a nest right outside our side door entrance to the porch. She had used a fabric wreath as her base and had added some dry grass on top. She was sitting patiently and diligently on her three eggs and only moved if we disturbed her. Again I was struck by the extreme sacrifice. I wanted to help the Dove and the mother on the plane. I wanted to let them know that that I wanted to take their place, be the support, let them have some relief. I knew that would never happen. A mother has a supreme standing in the life of their offspring. Others can only stand by and silently wish them peace.
On return from California, I celebrated my 60th birthday. Somehow I believed that these occurrences were somehow connected. The airplane trip, the dove and my birthday. A reminder to me that my next grieving is that I am not a grandmother. I thought how cruel to have finally gotten to some place of acceptance in my motherless role in life only to find myself in the category of no grandchildren.Just when you think you've obtain some level of understanding, it begins again.
I realize it is no mistake that I am a teacher of young children. My "mothering" took on a different path and so I found my calling in guiding children in a another way. I am not sad and I am not feeling sorry for myself. I do however have a empty place in my heart. A place that will never be filled. I want all my mother friends to know how much I love and admire you and your children. When you celebrate them, I celebrate them. When you are suffering because of your children's pain, I suffer too. I love hearing every story, seeing every picture and being apart of every life changing event. It has been a difficult journey coming to this place . I would have and did almost everything and anything to have children. It just wasn't in the cards. It is an odd position for a woman to be in. I did not choose not to have children, the choice was made for me by circumstance. So there it is, all that has been in my head for some time now. I hope my mother friends enjoy every moment of their special day, you deserve to be honored and cherished for the sacrifices you have made in order to be a mother.
Happy Mother's Day.