May 12, 2012 at 8:26 PM
I had the gift of sitting on the beach today. I sat under a beautiful blue sky, smooth sand at my feet and gentle waves crashing on the shoreline. My 3 year old was running around the empty beach, throwing rocks in the ocean, building sand castles, chasing puppies on their morning beach walks and even petting a horse whose owner was about to go for a morning ride. I sat there enjoying a cup of coffee, smiling at my son and grateful for my husband who was willing to make the endless trips back and forth to the water with him.
As I sat there, I thought of Mother’s day and how different I thought this scene would be five months ago. I thought of my son, Jude, who I lost before I could even hold him and how pregnant I would have been with him had things been as I had planned. I thought of all those women I have met in the past few months who have lost children too early and wondered if they too think of their lost children on this day. I prayed for those women who have experienced a loss of their only child and hoped that they too realize how this day is for them as well. How they should be celebrated for the love they had for their children no matter how brief their life.
I have been thinking a lot recently about what defines a mother. The obvious answer is you are raising a child whom you love and nurture here on earth. It is easy to define a mother when we have met their children. But what about those mothers who are harder to recognize? For me, the love of a child does not begin at birth, it begins the moment I know I am pregnant and all of my thoughts are focused on nurturing and taking care of this baby growing inside of me. Just because my child may not have met this world, I still love that child and cared and protected him. Wouldn’t that define me as a mother?
What if your child was here for a brief moment on earth and was suddenly taken away? Do you then stop being a mother? If you have ever met a mother whose child has died, then clearly you have witnessed the very real love they have for that child. I have learned some of the best lessons about motherhood from those friends whose children have left this earth earlier than they should have. The love they have for their child is very much alive and they are constantly thinking of that child whether they tell you or not. Think about how confusing this day must be for them. These women deserve to be honored and praised on mother’s day too.
Then I think about when I wasn’t a mother, but was an aunt who loved her nieces and nephew, who nurtured and cared for them. I think about the women in my own son’s life who are not officially “mothers” but are mothering my son daily. Don’t they deserve to be honored on this day as well?
My hope is that all of you who have lost children will be gentle with yourself on this day. You deserve to be good to yourselves. As confusing as this day must be for you, I hope you realize you made an impact on a life that was so precious. If this day is hard for you, be gentle with yourself and know that some of us understand that pain.
I hope that all the women who nurture and love children in their life have a day like I did today; peaceful, sitting on a beach realizing the joys and beauties of life, all while remembering our precious children.
Happy Mother’s Day