As I walked through the grocery store, I started sneezing as I passed what seemed like a forest of flowers. I don’t usually have this experience, so I was taken by surprise. Then, as a passed through some clouds of helium balloons, I realized what was going on: Mother’s Day is coming.
Mother’s Day is a big event. Afterall, "Raising a child is the most difficult thing you will ever do in your life". And with that thought firmly in place, for those trying to conceive, Mother's Day is a harsh reminder of what they aren’t able to do or have. Their dream hasn’t come true yet, and for some may never come true.
It can be a particularly difficult time put on your game face and celebrate motherhood if you’ve recently suffered a miscarriage, neonatal death or are struggling to conceive. It seems that very little can help and that the best way is to batten down the hatches and get on with it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The key is to do two things: emotionally prepare for the event and change how you think about it.
So how do you emotionally prepare? Recognize potentially painful situations. It’s empowering to be proactive in your life, so think ahead about the day and make your plans accordingly- don’t wait til the day arrives.
Choose which Mother’s Day celebrations you want to attend and for how long; perhaps events with lots of children or pregnant women is not your idea of a fun time, and who could blame you, so consider other possibilities. You might plan to see your mother at another time during the weekend.
During this very social time you can avoid indigestion by avoiding restaurants. What? Since many wait staff now ask if you’re out to celebrate Mother’s Day and offer to get you “something special” for the occasion, I expect you’ll want to skip that meal. Order take out instead and watch a good movie--a comedy without children in it.
Since your focus won't be on motherhood, that doesn’t mean you can’t focus and celebrate other areas of your life. If you're in a relationship, consider it an opportunity to focus on you and your partner as a loving unit. And let’s face it, with the stress that you’ve probably both been through, you’ve earned it. Take a walk on the beach or create a special meal together. You’ve needed each other and will continue to need each other, so nurture your bond.
Last but not least in the emotional arena, some peace can be found in prayer or asking others to pray for you at this time. Afterall, struggling to conceive is a crisis event and so there’s no better time than the present to have others support you.
So now comes the shift in thinking.
Question: If you aren’t a mother, does that also mean you aren’t nurturing or are capable of having maternal feelings? The answer is, of course, no. In fact, Anna Jarvis, the woman who founded Mother’s Day was herself childless but understood that mothering and maternal feelings go beyond having a child and recognized the many ways in which mothering occurs.
A woman ahead of her time, she understood that that mothering is an attitude of patience, kindness and of loving sacrifice. I ask you to find that in yourself and honor it. I know that can be hard to do, but…..Remember, recognized the world over, Mother Teresa was a ‘mother’ to many. Think about that for a minute.
Petaluma resident S. Fenella Das Gupta has a doctorate in Neuroscience and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#47275). Her specialty is Infertility and Fertility issues. Fenella is the author of the forthcoming book "Two Pink Lines: Getting Pregnant and Dealing with Fertility Issues."