Around mid-April, my mind starts thinking about that scary little day coming up in May. You know the one. The one that makes us cringe ever so slightly. The one we might all like to avoid. Dare I say its name? It’s Mother’s Day.
As a stepmom, M-day has always been tough for me. The first year after marrying Hubs, I had expectations that I would at least be honored in some small way. After all, I did perform the duties of a mom, so I deserve a little something, right? Wrong. It came and went without even so much as a word in my direction from anyone: not my Hubs, not my in-laws, and not my Skid. It was like a jab to the face.
Add a couple pregnancy losses and several negative pregnancy tests over the years, and M-day packs a one-two punch. You can safely say that the day has lost its luster for me.
To give him credit, Hubs finally did get the memo last year. He took me on a special outing the Saturday before to thank me for all I did as well as to acknowledge what we’ve lost. It was quiet, private, and meaningful: enough to get me through the indignity of the next day.
But this year, a final uppercut has been added to M-day’s combo: there’s a pregnancy in the family. I will now be the only female not honored as a Mom. It’s threatening a knock-out. I need a strategy.
Right now, I’m in heavy negotiations to bow out of this round. I know my limits. I’m just starting to deal with the possibility that I may never have a child of my own, and I’m not up to this “holiday.” Yet, I fear that my absence may bruise some egos, and the fallout may not be worth it. So I’m turning to you, my dear community, for advice. How do you get through it? (Feel free to whine too. By all means, let’s vent!)
The one thing I do know for sure is that extreme self-care will be required. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the urge we feel to explain or defend our situations, whether they are by choice or not. This day will have our guards up higher than usual. So please be good to yourself.
Quasi-momma, also known as “Bruisin’ Susan” explores her thoughts and feelings on her own struggles with childlessness, pregnancy loss and stepfamily life on her blog http://quasimomma.wordpress.com. She prefers not to disclose her weight class. It’s no one’s business.
Every year it has been different. Two years ago, I was recovering from an early miscarriage. Last year, we were just getting ready to go into IVF and I was still positive that it would work and this would be my year to celebrate. My husband’s mother cut him off three years ago, so that is still somewhat sensitive ~ we typically do something for my mother, but my family doesn’t fully understand how hard that day can be for us. This year we’ll be fortunate to just be alone. We recently bought an acreage and although there is nothing on it yet, it has become our escape. It is quiet, and lovely, and a place where we can go and anticipate what we expect to be happy days ahead. We’ll probably take a picnic and just spend the afternoon there.
Kate B says
My mother lives four hours away, my husband will be working on Mother’s Day, so I’m going for the duck and cover. There may be some caloric indulgence – maybe not since I’m trying to lose just 5 more pounds. There will be knitting, probably selfish knitting for the day – for me, for me, for me all for me. There will be lounging in the backyard with the dog – supposed to be sunny & warm. There may be alcohol – but again the diet thing so maybe not. There may be painting of nails and toenail. There may be some reading. There may be some napping. Any shopping will be done the day before. There will be one call to my mother, all incoming calls will be screened. There will be no excursions outside the home where some well-meaning person may wish me Happy What I’ll Never Be Day.
I think I’ve done a good job with getting on with it, with learning to be happy with the life I’ve got and not yearning for the life I planned, so I’m entitled to a little self-indulgent protectionism once in a while.
I’m lucky to still have my mom and my aunt (who is also childless, I lost my other aunt two years ago -she also did not have children). I am trying to look at Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate them, not the idea of motherhood in general. I try to focus on the fact that for many this is a difficult day because they have lost their own mothers. I’m not much of a sentimentalist about holidays… figure they’re all so commercialized, it’s so much about luring people to spend their money.
I am spending Saturday afternoon with my mother, husband and my brother. My father died two years ago and she is having a hard time. When my parents were first dating they spent a lot of time driving around in his 1957 convertible. My husband recently bought a 1967 convertible so we are taking my mother cruising in it in through the neighborhood where I grew up, and then getting ice cream at a place my father loved. She is really looking forward to it I used to get down on Mother’s Day but it makes me feel better knowing that I am helping someone else. On Sunday, I am going to hot yoga in the morning and spending the rest of the day at home. I plan to spend the afternoon puttering around my garden, getting a tan, making sun tea with mint from my garden, and playing with my sweet pet rabbit in the backyard.
For mother’s day we take my husband’s mom out to eat (but not on that day), and I send my mother a gift in the mail and call her. That’s it, I otherwise ignore it as well as I can (if it weren’t for the ads!!). I do better for father’s day; I don’t have a father and not married to a father so the holiday is never on my radar and usually surprises me when it comes up.
Mother’s day is handled well at our church so it’s ok. They acknowledge women’s roles in our lives and honor us all tactfully.
Just today, I thought.. this year I will try to redeem mother’s day by thinking about others… I’ll send a note to a friend who is just starting the TTC/infertile journey. Think about others I know who might be in the same boat and let them know I’m thinking of them.
Lois I just wanted to say that I have been on the receiving end of some similar gestures. Last year I received three. One was from a “fertile” friend who has always tried to reach out, one was from a friend in the process of adopting and the other from a fellow infertile. It meant so much that they took time out from their celebrations and/or their pain that day to reach out to me. This is such a thoughtful thing to do.
I love how you have all put thought into how you’ll honor yourselves while honoring those who have nutured you. You posts are putting a big smile on my face!
Lois, I love what you’ve stumbled upon about focusing on others. A couple of weeks ago, I found a project – a collaboration actually – to throw myself into that will be given to someone on M-day. Thinking about what the end product was it going to mean to the recipient really took my mind off stress the anticipation of the day usually brings.
Keep ’em coming ladies!
I will be taking my mother out to dinner. This day has always been very hard for me but my mother lost her mother a couple of years ago. So we try to celebrate and not be sad that day.
Definitely a self care day for me. Will see my mum then take the rest of the day for myself. Painting, a bath, playing with my babies( a mushball springer spaniel and a tyrannical 4 pound yorkie)! Church will be tough, maybe I’ll bag out.
Sounds like a wonderful day you have planned….I too, will bag out of church for this Sunday.
Quasi-Momma…..my advice for you is to bow out of this one. Yes, you may step on some toes, hurt some feelings, but everyone, in time, will forget about it. You don’t need to explain yourself – you just need to take care of yourself. I am now coming to realize that anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility, will never understand. You can explain yourself until your blue in the face, but they won’t ever get it. It’s frustrating.
This past year, I missed a few of my husbands family parties…lots of kids around. I’ve missed friends baby showers, and again this year, we are doing our own thing on Sunday. It hasn’t made the family happy, but I have noticed that they do get over it – and even if they don’t, then so be it. You need to be happy. My family lives about 6 hours away so I will make a phone call and send a card. My mom seems to get it….most of the time. 🙂
So, please put yourself first and do what you want to do on Sunday – if you bruise some egos, then so be it!
I totally agree with you. She should send her Skid to his/her mother’s house and have the day to herself or enjoy it with her husband.
I am completely in agreement with Kellie on this one; it’s time to put ourselves first and make sure we’re doing okay. As for me and the hubby, we’ll go to dinner with my mom and my dad and luckily the holiday doesn’t affect me much (probably because it’s an adult thing usually; no kiddos… yet). Next year though, my sister in law will have her little one and that may change everything. Like Kellie said, no matter how long you explain how much it hurts to be around “mom-ness”, no one will get it; no one except you, me, and the rest of the great ladies in this forum.
It depends on the year for me. Last year I hosted a breakfast for a bunch of girlfriends whose mothers are either interstate or passed away. None of them have their own children. It was wonderful! I loved cooking and hosting and we laughed and talked all morning. This year I’m leading worship at church – normally I’d avoid it, but I am feeling ok about it (I pulled heaps of favors at Christmas so I don’t feel used or ignored or anything). Sadly, my husband’s nana has just been diagnosed with cancer and this will most likely by her last Mothers Day with us, so the family will be very focused on her. I was diagnosed with depression last year and the main thing I learned from the counseling was that looking after myself is not only ok, but necessary. So my advice would be, don’t be a hero. Love others and bless them where you can – but love yourself too.
It’s too soon to think about THAT day- almost three months since the surgery. Thankfully I live so far from everyone (family), and I hadn’t spent mother’s day with anyone in family for years, (just cards with some gifts) so that will help with no expectations from family this Sunday. (thank goodness!) I’m planning to go spoil myself with biegnets and chicory coffee at this creole restaurant very early, then go fishing for a few hours, then treat myself to a pedicure and manicure (already reserved), and sunning with a book for the rest of the day with my dogs to keep me company. I’m not going to be accessible to anyone but me that day.
Duck & cover has generally been my strategy the last several years — we generally wind up at the movies. My MiL died before I ever met her, & mine lives 1000+ miles away, so a card & a call generally covers it for her. FIL remarried a few years after we got married, but we generally leave celebrating stepMIL to her own grown kids (sorry, Quasi-Mom!). A few years ago, we had to attend a baptism on M-Day for her grandson (!!) — THAT was painful. :p
My mil told me a few years ago (when we were still trying to conceive while we were planning what to for mothers day) “you should make dinner for all of us, you don’t have any kids” I know she meant to add “not yet” but those words haunt me, regardless if she knew how painful that was. For the last year I have been planning a last minute “out” of any mothers day festivities. I work at a hotel so I was planning a last minute call from work and get out of anything and not let anyone know. This is sometimes a private loss, I havent even told my hubby, because I want him to “sell it” It would be like playing hooky. Hmmm… Now I haven’t really thought about what I should do….. But it has gotten me past any anxiety thoughts…. Who knows, maybe if I am having a good time I can use this next year : )
This kind of attitude drives me crazy. I made Christmas dinner for 14 one year, and the task fell to me because, guess what? I “had more time” because I don’t have kids. No one offered to contribute, no one said, “thank you.” The irony was that all the kids came into my galley kitchen to check out what I was doing, while their Moms sat around gossiping. So much for being unencumbered enough to cook for everyone.
Been there, done that. A few years ago, I was at a party with my husband’s friends. Everyone there had children, except the host and me and my husband. The men sat in a circle and drank and talked. The women sat in a circle gushing about how wonderful motherhood was while their children ran wild in the house. I sat in the women’s circle and no one said a word to me for an hour because it was focused entirely on the children so I went in the house and offered to help the host control the kids. Sometimes I think peopel have kids as little trophies, especially when they like to make us feel bad about not having them.
It will be my husband’s birthday this year, and we’ll be having dinner with his parents. We might go see a movie, but we will pick one that won’t be a family movie, and we’ll go to the “Gold Lounge” where there are fewer kids and happy families. (A few years ago on M Day we went to a movie, and I was wished Happy Mother’s Day when buying the ticket – I physically cringed. Never again.) Otherwise we will hibernate. Given that we’re going out for a posh meal on Saturday night for husband’s birthday, we might spend most of the day in bed recovering.
“bow out” of it as you say and explain to people why. Those who will still display bruised ego are not worth the relationship.
Thanks everyone for your comments. Just an update. I was granted a reprieve this year, and the pregnant couple are going to be visiting other relatives. So it will be just me, Hubs, and the in-laws going out to dinner on Saturday night. Much easier than going out on Sunday, as some of you already indicated.
I saw the best FB post today: “Love to everyone today. Those who are celebrating, and those for whom today is difficult.” A very good friend of mine lost her mother to cancer several years ago. Today is hard for her. Another good friend is estranged from her mother, is single without children and starting menopause. Today is hard for her. We officially stopped our 4 1/2 year infertility journey a few months ago, and it dawned on me this weekend that this Mother’s Day is just the way I used to celebrate. No crazy hormones coursing through my body making me cry at the drop of a hat…. Just a wonderful day having a “girls’ adventure” celebrating my mother and giving her some tlc for I know that today is even bittersweet for her b/c she misses her mother dearly. I will reiterate my friend’s statement: Love to everyone today.
i started a new page on facebook for childless step mom just a page for info and support as I am one.