A Love-Hate Relationship with Mother’s Day

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Oh Mother's Day ... you can bring so much joy and so much pain to many.

When I was single and in my mid-30s, I often wondered if I'd ever be a mother. Mother's Day seemed to be the day where someone stuck a knife in my heart and twisted it around, as I watched my friends and family celebrate a role I desperately wanted.  When I finally met my husband, got married and started trying for a family, we went through a round of IVF that failed right before Mother's Day. Probably due in part to all the hormones I still had flowing through my body, I remember bursting into tears during our Pastor’s message at church, ultimately leaving early and ignoring the holiday altogether the rest of the day.

We adopted our daughter later that same year, and found out that same week we were pregnant. That following May my husband went all out to celebrate my first Mother's Day! I begin the day basking in the glow of finally being a mom, but later that day experiencing overwhelming sadness, a feeling I hadn’t expected and honestly wasn’t well prepared for before adopting. After a lot of reflection, I concluded that sadness was due to concerns about how that Mother’s Day would be for a young woman who had become very dear to me: our daughter’s birth mother. She was a woman who had carried Cora for nine months, only to hand her to me  to be her mother.

Mother's Day can be hard for so many people, for women who have lost their mothers, women who have placed a child for adoption, women who long to a mother, women who have started the adoption process but are patiently (or impatiently) waiting for their turn, women who are estranged from their children, and even adoptees who are struggling with their relationships and emotions about their two mothers, birth and the ones who got to raise them. 

Each year I now approach Mother’s Day cautiously and with mixed emotions. I know how hard this Hallmark holiday can be for so many. As the day approaches, I wrestle each year with buying the right card and gift for Cora’s birth mom, and each time I feel like the gift I get isn’t quite right. I can’t ever seem to ever find a gift that really expresses our appreciation for her and the decision she made, and no gift will ever erase the pain she may feel that day as she celebrates the day without our sweet Cora. I know it will only be a few short years before Cora too struggles with the holiday, once she fully understands what it means to be adopted and have two mothers that love her so.

If you are lucky enough to be able to celebrate with your mother, with all of your children and have overall positive thoughts about the day, please count your blessings, I know I will be counting mine! But please remember that everyone may not have the same feeling about the day, and be extra thoughtful of your friends and family who may have the same love-hate relationship with this holiday.

Katie Zimmerman