"[Death] was a fact of life,
but if I brought it up,
people would suddenly get interested in
their hangnails and cuticles,
or else distant places in the sky,
and seem to not hear me."
-- Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees
It's Mother's Day today -- a day to honor mothers, a day to be honored as a mother. I'm a big fan of Mother's Day as a concept, because really, who doesn't appreciate a day where all sorts of great stuff is centered around them? It's like a bonus birthday, and there's nothing bad about that.
But Mother's Day is not all about flowers pinned on dresses and lunch out with the kids. For many people, Mother's Day is a day of grief and misery -- a truly heavy burden to bear. On Mother's Day, some people recall the mother missing from their lives, while other people recall the children they've lost or only dreamed of. People would most especially rather not discuss the dead on Mother's Day, but today, as I sat in Sunday service, I couldn't help scanning the crowd wondering who there had a broken heart.
As for my heart, there are still significant cracks. It's amazing how things change from one year to the next to the next, and even more amazing how much remains precisely the same.
Two years ago on Mother's Day, Zachary had been dead about a minute and a half and I was a seeping, weeping wreck. I could hardly pick myself up off the floor, much less celebrate motherhood, still, that Sunday morning, I let the family drag me down the street to The Waffle House for breakfast. We left when a pregnant woman waddled in and I started sobbing into my syrup.
Mother's Day last year was much better. Though dealing with a bout of unexplained infertility, I was functional and capable of celebrating my blessings while realizing that celebration was not a dishonor to the dead.
Mother's Day this year is full of interesting dynamics. I'm pregnant, which is honestly both a blessing and a burden. I am still in shock to be with child, I am in shock to still be with child. I don't deserve this miracle at all. God has shown me the most unmerited favor, and a happier person could not be found. But pregnancy brings up all my failures: my failures as a parent, my failures as a woman, my failures as a child-bearer. In the midst of the joys and blessings of Mother's Day, tears were shed today -- tears for our struggles, tears for our losses, tears for the fears we still feel.
Today has been a bittersweet day.
Fortunately, my sweet family seems to understand these odd dynamics, so for this Mother's Day, there was little on the agenda -- just what I needed. I was met this morning with kisses, cards, and gifts. James and the kids chose a meaningful set of Willow Tree figurines that represents both where we are now as a family and where we hope to be in the next few weeks. (They were on the mantle before the early church service.) We later lunched at La Madeleine with my mom, then came home for a lovely lazy afternoon.