It is a beautiful Sunday morning. I got more than a full nights rest, the boys let me sleep in, I was delivered a beautiful handmade card and some delicious baked goods. It is currently 11am and I'm still not dressed and although this is the definition of a great weekend day, it's not necessarily a "Happy Mother's Day".
Mothers Day is everywhere today, and what a beautiful thing it must be, to share the love of your mother with the world, she deserves all of that. I am envious of you, in that curious way. I am happy for you and wonder what that must feel like, to have a life where your mother loves you unconditionally and has raised you with a life filled with love. I don't have that, nor a beautiful picture of me with my mom to share, those pictures don't exist anymore, they once did but those are from 20 years ago and the emotions attached to it are now so conflicted.
I also see the pictures, where all your children are held in your arms, I daydream and imagine how that feels. I will never have a picture of all my children; the result of my three pregnancies or the two children that I birthed pictured together as they should be, and it will always be that way for me. When I look at my family picture, there are always four of us-even if you only see three.
I also know that just because you have these things, a loving mother and your beautiful children to hold, doesn't mean your life is perfect but today, as many of you qualify this a "happy" Mother's Day, it highlights those of us who do not. Please do not take this as offensive, in fact quite the opposite, your mothers are my role models and your mothering is my inspiration, just because I don't have these things, I would never wish for you to not have them too.
I have a good life and I am grateful for it, but it has not always been easy and today is just one of those days. Realistically, today is no different than any other day in which I realize that I am a (biologically)mother-less mom living without her daughter, it's just that this Hallmark holiday magnifies how many others have what I do not. It doesn't mean that I hate Mother's Day or that I will avoid it (although I will not be going to Sunday brunch) but this day is definitely not easy.
What I do have is an amazing daughter, the one who has shown me my passion to live. I have my gorgeous, witty and energetic boy, who I have learned to love life as he does-through his eyes. I have a step-mom who mothers me, as much as I let her in and even when I don't. I may not hold all the traditional things that qualify this day but, I know that I'm not the only one to whom this day difficult.
My happiest Mother's Day is the normal day; the mornings that I wake up with my sweet boy loving me and the memory of my daughter warming my heart and all the women who have shown me that to be a mother is a privilege, and really that just makes every day my Mother's Day.
My heart is with you today, those who also find Mother's Day to be difficult. Feel your feelings and know that you are amazing every day. And to those who have reached out to the mother-less or mothers without children, my heart is with you too for your are our lifeline. You are our strength.
I had anxiety the other night, in fact I have had anxiety for several days without knowing why. Then it hit me, the holiday cards. How do I sign our holiday cards? What do I write for our family?
The Lands Family? I could write our names as a whole and not acknowledge our names individually, that would sum is up.
Chris, Amie, Ruthie Lou, Reid? I could include ALL our names, this IS my family.
Chris, Amie, Reid? I could write our three names because that's who remains living.
I had anxiety nearly a week thinking about the damn holiday cards, the ones I wish Ruthie Lou were pictured with us...more than just a ladybug. I went with my heart, I went with what felt right. Chris, Amie, Ruthie Lou, Reid. THIS is my family, will forever be my family. Including Ruthie Lou's name does not mean I am pretending she's alive, I am not trying to "force" her on anyone but when I think of my family, we are a family of four. I could never NOT include her name. And just as all parents write their children's name on behalf of them on their holiday (or whatever) cards, I will do the same. I am writing on behalf of Reid and on behalf of Ruthie Lou, my children.
The next morning I woke up anxiety dissipated, having made a decision only to see the news: Sandy Hook Elementary. I am a teacher. I am responsible for the safety of almost 30 students, other people's children every single day. I am a parent, a parent whose first child passed away. The anxiety returned. I cannot watch the news, I cannot speak of the horrendous acts bestowed by a very very sick man. I cannot feel the pain of those families, because I know it all too well. I feel it every day and it's terrifying.
My heart aches and aches and aches for them. My first thought was that those poor families had no notice that their morning good bye would be their last. They were not holding their child as they died. I hate to think that we were given blessings in Ruthie Lou's death but I would be lying if I said we were. We KNEW she would die, we were given three weeks notice. We KNEW to treasure and value each moment, each milestone, each day we woke to see her beautiful face. And we held her as she left her earthly body. My biggest fear in her death was that it would be in her sleep. Many of us think we would want for ourselves, but not for my child. I wanted her to feel the safety, the love and our warmth, that she was not alone and we were not afraid to be there for her in every moment of her life as well as the moment we were expected to release her to the next place, after this life. This choice was stolen for the Sandy Hook parents. The thoughts of those children crying for their parents haunts me.
I could not decide how to write our names on a holiday card hours before TWENTY + PARENTS joined the worst club of all. The Child Loss Parent Club. Nobody wants to be part of this club, especially those of us here. I cannot think of this tragedy too long, it is too real and too heavy for my brain, too new still and brings up too much (as I'm sure many parents feel the same about our family). Even when you have lost your own child, you still don't want to imagine it for anyone else because there is nothing worse to imagine in this life.
Every year, those parents will have to decide how to sign a damn holiday card;
Will I offend anyone?
Am I pretending she (he) is alive?
Am I grieving "correctly"?
Are people judging me?
I hate this club. My heart is broken. Again.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.