I thought this would happen when it was Mother’s Day in England. I thought the influx of cards and reminders and Things In Shops and focus, would be the things which did me in.
Turns out it’s Americans. Because yours is (inconveniently, and just WHYYYY?!) a month later than ours.
Which is fine, as long as the first round wasn’t about endurance. But it was. And this is round two. And I’m out. Or am I?
How much of a complete utter bitch does it make me, if the next time I see someone innocently post their new fancy ‘hook you in and let’s have a conversation’ starter of “What do you want for mother’s day?” I atom-bomb them with the response “A live child” ?
Because I swear if I see too many more of them…
The fact I posted it in a private group tells me that really, I knew it would be completely bitchy to be such a spoilsport, but the fact that I thought it or shared it at all (even in a safe space, and now here, for the sake of transparency) tells me that Mother’s Day and I are not yet at the ‘uneasy truce’ stage.
Because it hurts.
I know that either you know this, you Know this, or you can imagine it probably would. I’m not going to wax lyrical, because for once I’m not Abyssal about it, and I don’t need propping up.
But it fucking hurts.
(No, okay, I do need propping up. I just thought about my Dad reading this and being pissed off about my language, and then thought about how I’ll likely never get to make him a Grandad to my kids. And now it hurts more. Bear with me…)
So I was all prepared to get my snark and my upset on, in spite of it being Ten Things of Thankful, and how I know (and it’s fine, because there SHOULD BE – because motherhood is a GREAT, AWESOME, WONDERFUL (difficult, painful, challenging, veryhard) THING) there are going to be at least half a hundred posts about people being thankful for their mums or their kids, or for being a mum. Or all three. And I’m going to (at some point) wade into one which hurts me again, like I did before. Because the TToT is so damn great at showing me the wonderful things I’m missing out on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But here’s the thing. Or
several ten of them.
When I see a gorgeous post about parenting done well, it gives me hope, because I now that good parenting happens, and is happening for those children. And it hurts, but I’m thankful because I know those children matter, and more importantly, the children know they matter.
When I see a post about parenting being a challenge, I support the parent, because parenting’s hard, and people need support and encouragement, even from someone who isn’t one. (you know what I mean). And it hurts, but I’m thankful because it means that a parent is being open and honest about their struggle; they’re reaching out for help and trying to exercise some damage control because fundamentally, they don’t want to harm their child, and they want to be a better parent.
When I see a post from a friend about how a family she knows lost their 18 year old son in a car crash, in the week leading up to Mother’s day, it aches, because I can’t begin to comprehend the pain of losing a child after 18 years of knowing and loving them, having only ‘known’ and loved mine for a few short weeks of gestation. And it hurts, but I’m somehow thankful I was spared that.
When I get a message from the organisers of the book I contributed to, telling me that they made the donation amount, and the campaign to give free copies of our hope-bringing book to grieving mothers who need it was a success, it makes me proud. And it hurts, but I’m thankful that people believe in this campaign and this book, and its message.
When I get an email from a very dear friend, saying she contributed to the campaign for the book (which offered the opportunity to dedicate individual copies in memory of the donator’s lost child, if they wish) and that she hasn’t lost a child (in this way), but feels such a strong connection with me and my story, that would I mind if she dedicated it to my children…well then it nearly makes me break, but also it made me smile, and I think I felt my entire soul glow alight with happiness at her loving gesture.* And it hurts, but I’m thankful I have such a dear, wonderful friend, who is so thoughtful and full of light.
When I think that I treasured the above in my heart and didn’t tell Husby yet, because I know he doesn’t feel the same way as I do about our losses (he’s rather more practical – that’s not to say he doesn’t hurt hugely about them, or that he’s not sad…he just manages it differently, rather than all the indulgent grieving I tend to get into) I feel a bit crap but also a bit like I want to keep it to myself, just for a while longer. And it hurts, but I’m glad that when I do tell him, he’ll be supportive, to support me.
When another sweet friend sends me messages apologising for having written again about her children, and how much it twists her heart to post these things, and how she second-guesses her wonderful, encouraging writing because she worries about upsetting me, it makes me well up because I know that she truly cares, but also it makes me utterly sorrowful because I have burdened her with my hurt, and I hate the idea that my grief makes her doubt that she should write the things she does. And it hurts, but I’m thankful because it shows the depth of our friendship, somehow.
When I see a response to my bitchiness from a friend who has a hugely painful and dysfunctional relationship with her own mother, and realise that mother’s day is immeasurably more painful for her (in a different way), I smart, because I realise that frankly, not being a mother on mother’s day is not the worst of it, and that I have several cherished friends for whom this day is going to be challenging in similar ways, and that sucks. And it hurts, but I’m thankful, because I have been given the gift of perspective, and the reminder that I enjoy a good relationship with my own Mum.
When I remember that there are friends I adore who are going to find this day really hard because of relationships with their children which are in some way difficult or painful or absobloodylutely the most hurting thing ever, because it feels so broken, I hurt because I just wish things could be fixed for them, and made better so that their hearts aren’t in pieces when they think of their children and the struggles they face in those relationships. And it hurts, but I’m thankful because I’m spared this. And I’m thankful that I have friendships where sometimes, maybe, I can be supportive back, even without Knowing the struggles and hurts.
When I read a beautiful piece of writing about a friend’s experience of miscarriage. Or a beautiful piece about an acquaintance’s recent miscarriage. Or I hear that one of our own TToT members has recently suffered an awful loss, it makes my heart hurt and my breath get short, because friends, there is so. much. grief. No-one should have to go through it, but we’re in a broken, messy world where painful things happen and it’s not fair. And it hurts, but I’m thankful because each of these wonderful women wrote about her loss, brought sunshine to the subject, kicked back at the taboos around talking about these things, and is beginning, in her own time, to move forward.
And when I thought of all the ways I’m thankful for this experience, even in painful, hurting ways, because it’s shaped me and made me aware, and brought me closer to people, I can see that there are strong silver linings, even in child loss. Eventually.
And when I realised that, I knew that I wouldn’t be writing a Thankful list which just ended with ‘KTHXBYE’ because I knew that what needs to happen next – for the Thankfuls to be worth anything – is action.
Action, like finally buying that damn book and an extra, and seeing whether I give them both away, or whether I can bite down on the pain and keep one for myself.
Action, like figuring out a way to be non-American and buy a t-shirt to support costs for the funeral of the young man who died. (Thanks a million, BW)
Action, like writing this, not waiting til I’m ‘better’ to do it, and letting you know that if you find mother’s day hard, I don’t want you to feel like you need to be ‘better’. Like telling you I don’t want you to feel mean about your mixed feelings and your hurt. Like telling you I don’t think you need to force out a load of happy because it’s The Done Thing. Like telling you it’s okay that it sucks, because there are valid reasons.
Action, like suggesting you take some, by doing something nice or helpful for someone who finds this day a challenge.
Action, like suggesting that you taking action especially if you are someone who finds this day a challenge, might be a Good Thing.
Action, because we have most power over our hurts when we use them to fuel our ‘helps’
*It also made me feel crappy because I’ve been on the run from that book, the campaign and all things to do with it, ever since I contributed. Because it hurts to be part of it. So now I know I’m also a shitty supporter of it, and I suck. Because it’s important and NOT ABOUT ME. This post and associated actions doesn’t make it all the way better, but it helps.
And that’s one of the Three Things of Worthwhile
ii – I hurt much because I love much
iii – I care. A lot.