There is a song in the musical Avenue Q* that goes like this…
“When I was little, I thought I would be, a big comedian on late night TV.
But now I’m 32, and as you can see – I’m not.
It sucks to be me.”
This song resonates with me, not because – as I’m sure people would agree – I’d make a good comedian, but because when I was little I knew what I would be. I was born to be a Mum. I had a plan. I was going to have 13 (yes, thirteen, 1-3) children who were all going to be girls. And right up until I was 25 that seemed pretty much set albeit reduced to a slightly more realistic expectation. Now I’m 31, and as you can guess, I’m not a Mum. So the question is how much that sucks on Mother’s Day?
When I was little, Mother’s Day was all about my Mum. We brought her daffodils and made cards and I think Dad may have cooked dinner. Now I’m of the age where I thought and expected that children would be part of my reality. Not only would I send a card but I’d be the one receiving them too. Nowadays, the reminder to celebrate mums also serves to remind that I’m not one.
Comments like ‘You’re still young!’ and ‘You’ll have children one day!’ aren’t completely untrue and are often said with the best of intentions. But they also might never be true. Right now having children is a very distant prospect. My relative youth, while helpful in terms of time, also means that many of my friends and family members are having children, raising children and enjoying their young families. On Mothering Sunday, Facebook is littered with photos of the #soblessed receiving breakfast in bed, presents, flowers and handdrawn cards. At church, little posies are handed to Mums, yet serve to compound the fact that you’re not one of those.
To say this is sometimes not easy is an understatement: watching other people fulfil dreams that you’ve long held can be extremely painful. Being surrounded by others celebrating what you don’t have and would give anything to have had is hard – and that’s ok. Acknowledging that our own hopes and dreams haven’t been fulfilled as we anticipated is valuable and important in our own emotional health. And I’m not the only one. Friends who are unexpectedly single parents, who aren’t parents, whose experiences of motherhood haven’t turned out the way they’d anticipated.
So the question remains, what to do with the day other than celebrating our own mums, when it’s also a potentially difficult day?
One great option unavailable to those with children, is to remind yourself why this particular path in life has its joys too. Have a ridiculously long lie in or a boozy brunch. Read an entire book curled up under the duvet or let the Netflix episodes skip on guilt-free. One day this might not be our reality anymore, so let’s make the most of it!
There are also bound to be others around us whose Mother’s Days aren’t as they’re expecting either. Maybe their other half is away or maybe they’re divorced or separated. Why not arrange to spend the day with them? If they’re a lone parent, why not take their children to buy a gift for their Mum or take round some flowers to celebrate the wonderful job she’s doing? Maybe you have a friend whose Mum has died over this year. Offer to spend the day with them, celebrating the memories of their Mum if they would like to.
How about the other non-mothers in your life? I have close friends who have had miscarriages and who would love nothing more than to hold their babies in their arms. There are those who may not have a biological child but have been there for each step of your life offering love and support along the way. Why not get in touch with these people in your life on this possibly painful day?
This Mother’s Day, I’m going to celebrate my Mum and all she’s done for me. But also, I won’t be wallowing; I want the life I do have to be one of quality, not a period of waiting for a possibility. So on Mother’s Day I’m going to celebrate what I love about my life even if one dream has not been realised, because if that dream was a reality, all these other things I love would not have been possible.
*A musical not for the faint-hearted or easily offended!
Originally published on Restored Lives.