There has been a heavy weight in my heart this week.
I hope you don’t mind that I share these words with you today. They may stir something up for you or they may not, but I must get these words out, not just for myself but for all of the mothers out there who walk in the shadows.
You’ve probably past her several times today if not more. She’s at the grocery, working out next you at the gym, maybe even sitting at dinner with you. She’s there. She goes about her day as any other person would do, but she walks in shadows. She lives every waking moment in these shadows and sometimes these shadows give her hope while other times they break her heart into a million pieces.
She’s a mother. She is a mother.
But this mother is different from other mothers. This mother walks in shadows.
She lives in the shadows of the wings of her baby angels who she never got to meet here on this earth. She knows them deeply as though they were here with her this very day. She knows how old they would be and the milestones they would be hitting right now.
She holds onto them tightly each day by touching the necklace with their initials she wears close to her heart or by watering the flower or tree she planted in their honor, or in some other way, any way to be close to them. She is a mother.
She does not get to hold her baby or babies but she never lets them go.
She smiles and throws her arms around you to congratulate you when you tell her you are expecting. She wouldn’t want anything but the very best for you and she would never wish the pain she bears on even her worst enemy. But out of sight, in the darkness, she falls to her knees and tears flow uncontrollably.
To your question, “When are you going to have kids?” she knows there are two ways to answer, one to dismiss the question with a “someday” or “oh you know…” or to tell you she has two angels and then have to sit in the awkward silence while you try to figure out what to say.
She wants you to know she is a mother, but because she has nothing to hold or show you she falls back deeper into the darkness.
It takes every ounce of energy to hold it together when you tell her you are pregnant and then you smile and say, “And we weren’t even trying!” These words are like nails straight to the heart. When you tell her to just relax and it will happen, again, she tries to pull it together. She has heard the “everything happens for a reason” line over and over but her empty lap or flattened belly seem to give her no reason or explanation.
She sits through agonizing baby showers and oohs and aahs every tiny little stuffed animal, onesie and sentimental gift only to be reminded over and over of what she has lost.
She is a mother, but she walks alone.
There is another mother who lives in the shadows of her dreams. She sees the perfect smiling child that is her own to have and to hold. She sees all ten toes and each tiny finger and knows they are hers. She has loved her baby with all of her heart and yet all she has to hold onto are the images in her mind. Each month, she holds her breath as she counts down to the day that she can see if her dream will turn to reality only to be met with devastation.
Another month, another month.
When will it be her turn? Though she has no one to hold, she is a mother too. Every ounce of her being is a mother and yet she sits in the shadows.
To the mothers who walk in the shadows, I want you to be acknowledged for what you are: mothers. On Mother’s Day you fall back into the shadows, while mothers all around you are showered with flowers, crayon colored cards, hugs and love. Not that these mothers are not worthy of such gifts, but you are a mother too.
You have given your heart, soul, life and breath to your angels or the dreams of the baby you will one day hold here on earth. You have gone through pain and sacrifice for the sake of your baby. You have told your angels you love them each and every day. You have held them so close to you that it hurts sometimes.
And on the days you felt like you couldn’t go on, you know their wings are what held you up.
The hope of seeing them, holding them, loving them is what keeps you going.
You are a mother. And no one, nothing can ever take that beautiful gift from you.
Author: Lorie Yarro
Editor: Renee Picard
Image: missidog at Flickr