Nine years ago, my husband and I sat in church on yet another Mother’s Day. A few people read cheesy poems and the pastor talked about the blessed Mary, mother of Jesus. After the service concluded, the staff kindly handed a rose to every woman exiting the stained glass doors. But the single stem thrust into my hand felt more like a funeral flower than a gift. Its sharp thorns had been carefully removed by the florist, but the sting of pain was still there.
I’d spent many months sitting among groups of women, consciously forming friendships after moving to a new town. The conversations inevitably turn to motherhood. Birth plans. Pregnancy cravings. Vaccines. Discipline. Potty training. I had nothing to contribute. My womb was empty, just like my heart and arms.
Soon enough, the invitations from my new friends started pouring in: baby showers, gender reveal celebrations, and baby’s first birthday parties. One woman posted on social media that she was pregnant again, this time with twins. The sonogram picture bore into my soul, reminding me of what I did not have.
It felt like there were babies everywhere. One day, I bumped into a stroller while exiting a store. I apologized profusely for my clumsiness and the mom replied, “Oh, it’s fine!” while her cherub daughter stared up at me with a gummy smile and rosy cheeks. I couldn’t take a walk around the park, purchase a hot tea, or slip into a public restroom without seeing at least one perfect, happy baby.
Even in my sleep, I couldn’t escape the reality that I wasn’t a mother. In one dream I walked into a sunny hospital room and peered into a clear bassinet. In it was a newborn girl with chestnut hair and creamy skin. Just as I reached in to touch her, I abruptly woke. My bedroom was dark and silent; no newborn cries or content, sleepy sighs.
I constantly searched for signs that my journey to motherhood would soon have a happily ever after. One morning I went for a walk and found three bright yellow weed flowers blooming through a crack in the sidewalk. I took a mental picture, certain that the three flowers symbolized me, my husband, and our soon-to-arrive baby. I was clearly desperate. The three flowers lived up to their “weed” status, failing to be the premonition I had hoped.
Sometimes I was manic — demanding we buy nursery furniture that very day and choose a boy and girl baby name. Other days I felt numb and helpless, recommitting (again) to living my life in the now and enjoying our freedom as a childless couple. I would list off the many perks of not having a baby: sleeping in on Saturday mornings, traveling for weeks at a time, and staying up too late watching movies and cuddling on the couch. My life was nothing short of a roller coaster that I couldn’t exit. I just kept going … up and down.
Waiting to become a mother was nothing short of torture. The wait was both unpredictable and upsetting.
On a sunny afternoon in November, my husband and I were painting our kitchen as part of a project I insisted we tackle to keep our minds off the baby wait. We laughed, sang along to the radio, and at times settled into comfortable silence. As we were finishing up, my husband’s cell phone rang with an unfamiliar number across the screen. Being the curious person he is, my husband took the call. All of the sudden he was by my side, thrusting the device into my paint-streaked hand. It was our adoption agency letting us know our child was waiting for us.
I remember bits and pieces of the following minutes, hours, and days. The frantic packing. The frequent phone calls and lengthy e-mails. The lack of appetite. The restless nights and anxious utterances.
When we met our daughter for the first time, the sadness I had held onto for so long became a memory. My daughter’s large chocolate eyes, curly black hair, and velvety brown skin consumed me. All of the sudden, nothing else mattered but our family — our perfect three-bundle of flowers.
Every Mother’s Day, I remember the many times I sat in my isolation, anger, and jealousy. I remember the many women today who are sitting in my yesterday.
If you are her, I see you, I know you, and I am cheering for you. I don’t know how or when, but your motherhood is coming. Hold on just a little longer.
I know today is really, really hard, and tomorrow might be the same, but your weeds will give way to flowers.