I remember the Mother’s Day after my first miscarriage. I went about my usual Sunday routine – morning walk, yoga, coffee, writing. I sat in the coffeeshop, watching men my age maneuver strollers through the door, instructing their sticky toddlers pick out the perfect scones to “bring home to mommy.” Some loitered around the coffeeshop for an extra half hour to grant their wives a small dose of Mother’s Day alone time.
I felt angry and resentful that day, thinking about the injustice of my situation and how this was also supposed to be my day of celebration. Nonetheless, I smugly left the coffeeshop knowing I had more than 30 short minutes of disposable time that day to do whatever the hell I wanted. In silence. And non-stickiness.
The Mother’s Day after my second loss wasn’t much better. One thing I’ve learned is that grief is sneaky. I recall being in Target looking at Mother’s Day cards. I got so angry I left the store without anything. Which honestly, is a pretty astonishing feat at Target. Award-worthy, really. Although cards were my greatest enemy that year, I received the best card from my own mother, acknowledging and honoring my strength and my hurt.
The more I thought about becoming a parent, and the more medical hoops we had to jump through to make a it reality, the harder it became to see it objectively. My anxiety reached terrifying and uncharted heights. It wasn’t until we took a step back that we figured out what we valued in our lives and where we wanted to pour our energy. I realized I was anxiety-ridden about motherhood because at my core, I wasn’t sure it was it was in line with what I truly wanted. Which didn’t feel like a popular stance. I was doing it because it was the expected next step. If I didn’t do it, I’d be a disappointment. I was supposed to want it, but felt ambivalent no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.
People say, “Oh, but you’d be such a good mom…” or “How will you define your life if you don’t become a mom?” I smile silently, knowing these comments are well-meaning and are coming from people who know the special magic of parenthood firsthand. They simply don’t want me to miss out.
I don’t doubt that the feelings of pure selflessness and next-level love that come from having a child of your own are unparalleled. The whole thing is an experience that can never be replicated.
I feel the same way about parenthood as I do about Game of Thrones. Everyone says it’s the most amazing, life-changing show. It’s one of their favorite things they share with their partner. Everyone’s constantly posting about it on social media and initiating unprovoked conversations. It’s like a secret language everyone learned, and I shrug, guessing I must’ve been absent from class that day. I believe it’s incredible, but I can’t get myself there. I get the same flummoxed look of pity and disappointment when I tell people I don’t watch Game of Thrones as I do when I say I’m uncertain about parenthood.
A Mother’s Day doesn’t pass where I don’t think about the what-ifs of my own motherhood. As with all tough things, time softens the edges. I’ve found solace in redefining motherhood. Taking its signature qualities and employing them in other ways – “otherhood,” if you will.
Each day I get to coach and nurture people. I find thoughtful ways to show them I care. I support and celebrate them, whether it’s at work, with my friends or at home. I have the honor of nudging people along a path that helps them grow into the best versions of themselves. And I wiped poop off my dog’s butt with a freakin’ leaf a couple days ago, so that’s gotta count for something, right?
Every day I am in awe of my mom, grandmothers and all the moms in my sphere who juggle a million things so effortlessly and lovingly. But today I’m also celebrating all the women who have shared their “otherhood” to make me the woman I am today.
I’m officially expanding the definition and calling today “Other’s Day.” One for the others – the aunties, friends, stepmoms, mentors, badasses – who give selflessly of their time, love, snuggles and wisdom to nudge us onto our best path. For those whose stretch marks aren’t from pregnancy but from pastries. And for those who constantly give birth to new ways of sharing their bright light to make the world a beautiful place.