Motherhood, what an amazing thing to celebrate! Think of all the women who since the evolution of homo sapiens have been giving birth to and raising those trillions of people that have came before us, are here now, and will come long after we are gone.
I am sure we all are aware however of the different ways in which Mother’s Day can be incredibly difficult and painful for many. With social media there are so many reminders of what we have lost or never had, and opportunities to compare our lives with others. I know personally that this Mother’s Day will be particularly difficult for many members of my family, who will be having their first Mother’s Day without their beautiful moms. My heart also goes out this Mother’s Day to those moms whose babies miscarried, were stillborn or whose children passed away; something which sadly so many have to bear. People who know this will be their last Mother’s Day with their mom, or mothers who know this will be their last Mother’s Day with their child, you are all in my thoughts.
There are also those who may be estranged from their mothers, or children, or whose relationships are incredibly complicated and painful. I think it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that even those who seem to have it all, most likely do not, at least not at times. It is rare that life really turns out exactly how we dreamt it would, and being a mom can be so challenging even under the best of circumstances.
There are mothers bringing up their children alone, fathers separated from their children and their children’s mothers, on a day that otherwise may have been celebrated together. We must also remember there are a lot of single fathers, or fathers who have been widowed, helping their children through this day. People who were adopted may be thinking about their birth moms today; birth moms will be thinking about children who they never got to raise. Many women will be experiencing difficulties with infertility, wondering if they will ever have the child they have dreamed off; many others may still be trying to accept that they will never be a mom, biologically or otherwise. I also know many women who have made the choice not to have a child, who will most likely be faced with well meant but repetitive and frustrating questions, like ‘when are you guys planning to have children?’.
We are all just trying to figure out how to navigate our way through this beautiful but incredibly messy life.
From my earliest memory I remember wanting to be a mom. Having had lots of surgeries as a child, I was told very openly by my lovely consultant that there was a good chance that I would not be able to have my own children biologically. In some ways knowing this from such a young age meant I had already decided if that was the case I would adopt. I was more than okay with this, as I thought there are many other children out there who needed a loving home. Further health complications throughout my life have meant that I have also had to give up my dream of adopting, something which personally I have also for the most part came to terms with. I think! It has definitely not been easy.
Not being able to have children is a common direct or indirect consequence of living with a chronic illness. One that I have often wondered may be overlooked due to the many other things we have to deal with. I want to send lots of love today to anyone, who like myself have had to not only come to terms with living with a chronic illness, but the many other losses that come with this. To those with chronic illnesses who are also mothers, kudos, you guys are the true wonder women.
I came across a beautiful article written by Melli O’Brien aka Mrs mindfulness a few days ago, regarding dealing with grief, loss and heartbreak. I wanted to share it with any of you who might need a little bit of comfort today. Linking into my theme on self compassion this month, she writes about being mindfully self compassionate, and also provides a beautiful meditation to help people process whatever difficult emotions they may be experiencing. I figured there may be many people who this could benefit today.
Just click on the link below:
If you are quite simply having an amazing time today, do not feel guilty for what you have. Life is way too short to do anything but appreciate and embrace every beautiful moment.
Given my own experiences, and those of so many people I have connected with, I really want to write about the impact having a chronic illness can have on your life, in terms of being a mom or not being a mom. I have recently had the huge pleasure of connecting with a colleague from the other side of the world – Australia – who is also a Clinical Psychologist and suffers from a range of chronic illnesses.
My experiences, and the experiences of my colleague are of course unique in so many ways, including parenthood. We have both faced different challenges. My chronic illnesses have meant that I have had to deal with the fact that I will not have children. My colleague does have children, but had to go through IVF, and experiencing chronic health difficulties has had to balance managing these conditions and being a mom. We would both over the next few weeks like to share our stories and reflections, both professionally and personally, hoping they will go some way to helping others in similar situations feel less alone.
As always peace and love to you all!
The Wounded Healer
Dr Kristine Abercrombie