Today is Bereaved Mother’s Day. Ever heard of it? I had no idea. Last year I had never even heard of such a thing either. I was blissfully ignorant to the “other mothers.” I was just rolling easy, about nine weeks pregnant in yet another typical boring pregnancy. Now a year later, I stand in these shoes, the laces forever woven into the skin of my feet. The shoes of Grieving my Baby. I grew him, I felt him, I birthed him. I said hellogoodbye. Some mothers have more time, some have days or years. We all still lost our babies, even if they were fifteen. This caught me tonight just as I needed it.
“The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.” Elizabeth Gilbert
Sometimes handling it means answering the question of “how many kids do you have?” with a “I have three, all boys. It’s messy at our house.” I’m alone at the grocery store and this checker doesn’t need to know that one of those boys isn’t living. Sometimes handling it means the question gets asked by acquaintances and you feel your husband begin to stumble, so you start in, “Sorry, we are a bit awkward at answering that question as we lost our baby boy in November. So, we have three, but only two of them fight over the toys. How many children do you guys have?”
Sometimes handling it means turning your back to the beautiful mama that is wearing her baby at the marathon expo. Sometimes it’s finding the bravery to ask to hold that baby that won’t stop gurgling at you at the Tball game. Sometimes handling means creating something amazing out of the ashes, like a non-profit that can immediately and deeply impact families experiencing loss. Sometimes handling it means having the bravery to try again for a baby. Sometimes it means knowing that your family is done growing and patiently meeting everyone’s suggestions for a fix with patience and grace. Sometimes handling it means seeking those who will support and love only, and keeping all others away until the time is right.
A lot of times, handling it means feeling all the emotions deeply and without apology. I apologize for nothing when it comes to grieving my son. This generally translates for lots of unusually-timed crying and tissues during yoga. I knew him the best of anyone. My body was where he was alive. I share him because I am his mom, he is my son, and no passage of time will ever change that. I will always love him. I would rather choose to feel him, whether in joy of what he has brought to us, or in the pain of missing him, than to wake up one day and realize I have forgotten him entirely.
Mother’s Day this year will deliver a triple awful punch this year. Things with my own mother haven’t been the same since Reece died. This year, this day isn’t just a day to thank moms and celebrate being a mom, but Reece’s sixth month birthday. Half a year without my youngest son. Without his flop turning into head control and delicious thigh rolls, his newborn grunts turning into gah-gah and da-da-da and giggles, without his smiles, and spit up, and face grabs. It feels that we have missed so much, but in reality, we don’t even understand the scope of what we will never experience. Losing a baby is losing generations of family. I lost the friends he would meet and bring home, the girlfriends, a daughter-in-law and grandkids and their children. We didn’t just lose a baby, we lost a boy, a teen, a man.
So Mother’s Day will come and go. I now belong to the “other mothers” club. I often resent being here against my will. But I do know one thing, I am not alone. My “other” mothers are here with me. There are some badass bitches in this club. They are fiery and unapologetic and so so strong. They, like me, are handling it, a thousand different ways on a thousand different days. They will be alongside me as we weather the day of Mother’s Day. I will handle it and weep and laugh and hold those dearest to me.