Mother's Day is right around the corner. Three years ago was my first Mother's Day. Two years ago was the first Mother's Day most people actually recognized me as a mother. Around this time every year, articles and blog posts circle the internet regarding honoring "all types" of mothers. Posts about single mothers, kids with two mothers, mothers who are veterans, mothers with disabilities, adoptive mothers, foster mothers...basically, all types of mothers are talked about and celebrated. Except one. The Heartbroken Mother. Of course, people like Carly Marie, Angela Miller, and Lindsey Henke write beautiful articles celebrating mothers who have lost their children. They are moving and inspiring and we share them with the members of our community in solidarity. Right now, the "I See You" movement is swirling through our ranks, lifting us up and helping us feel a little less broken. We even have an International Bereaved Mother's Day the first Sunday in May, which began in 2010. All of us work so hard to heal, to feel like a whole person. We strengthen the bonds in our community with ways to recognize the mother in all of us, regardless of whether our children are in our arms or in our heart. To a Heartbroken Mother, being recognized as a mother of all of her children is so important. The Loss Community does a stellar job in doing that. The Mainstream Community? Not so much.
All of the things I just mentioned only exist in the Loss Community. I didn't know about any of these things before I lost Kenley. When I became a Heartbroken Mother, an entire world of sorrow and support opened up to me. And while I am beyond grateful for the undeniable validation and voice this community gives me, I still wish this could translate into the world beyond it.
I have the luxury of a Rainbow. Because she was born alive, I get wished Happy Mother's Day. I am included in the celebration of motherhood, even though it will always be bittersweet. But, what about those mothers who are still waiting for their Rainbow? Or those who never get one? Are they not Mothers? I know too many women who are completely ignored on the second Sunday in May year after year. Too many women who never get wished Happy Mother's Day because they have no living children. They want someone to remember their babies....and usually it's another Heartbroken Mother. Every once in a while, it's a kindhearted friend or family member, but more often than not their only recognition is within our own community, and while that doesn't make it less meaningful, it still stings.
International Bereaved Mother's Day is great. It's a wonderful way to include the mothers who don't have all of their children with them. It's a way for them to have a day of healing and recognition. But, it's not the same. We don't always want to be "Bereaved". We don't always want to have to turn to the Loss Community to feel like our children matter - that we matter as a mother. It shouldn't be too much to ask to be included in a standard holiday for mothers when we ARE mothers.
This Mother's Day, take a minute to think about the mothers who may be living that day in silence - who are spending that day hyper-focused on what should be happening but isn't. Take a minute to recognize that mother for who she is. Remember her children with her. Wish her a Happy Mother's Day. Here....I'll even give you the words:
"Happy Mother's Day to a wonderful mother. I am thinking of you and your children today."
Second to the fear that our child will be forgotten is the fear that our motherhood will be fragmented to only include our living children, or will be ignored altogether.
Regardless of Rainbows, every mother deserves to be recognized. Every mother deserves to be included in Mother's Day. It's hard work living with pieces of your heart scattered across the stars.