Grief is such a strange animal. It’s kind of like a cat. It likes to be left alone most of the time, and then all of a sudden it attacks your legs when you are doing the most normal activity you can think of. This cat grief really sneaks up on me during pregnancy test commercials. Yep, you heard that right. I have to mute every “Clear Blue” pregnancy test commercial, because watching women tearfully share their positive pregnancy tests with those they love reminds me of the year I gave one of those positive tests to my mother-in-law on her birthday. We lost the baby the next weekend, two days before my 28th birthday. That was three years ago.
Part of the reason I struggle with unpredictable grief is because I went through a series of 5 surgeries in the last three years since losing our baby. I was forcibly distracted from our loss, as I battled chronic nerve pain and several unpleasant recoveries. My attention was forced elsewhere and now days like Mother’s Day seem to hit me harder every year that we still don’t have children.
It’s such an uncomfortable dichotomy, to feel so sad on Mother’s Day, yet so happy for the awesome mothers in my life who are more than worthy to be celebrated. The most obvious one being my own mom. She is someone I can trust, who models how to love people well, some deserving and some not so much. I grew up with her constantly trying to give me her things because she is one of the least materialistic people I know. A slightly exaggerated example of this occurred before she and my dad sold all their belongings to become missionaries in Thailand. As they were packing up their Ford Focus to visit me before their big move, my mom decided she wanted me to have her favorite antique, so they drove the whole, 7.5 hour, trip with an armoire between their front seats. I am not sure they could actually see each other over the armoire throughout that whole car ride. I smile thinking about how many of her things she tries to get me to take each time I visit her in Missouri.
As if one phenomenal mom isn’t a big enough blessing, I also inherited another great mom when I married my husband. My mom-in-law is one of my favorite people to call with good news because she is possibly more excited about my news that I am myself sometimes. She remembers every doctor’s appointment, loves to give gifts for every occasion, and is one of the best hostesses I have ever met. Since my mother-in-law is local, she was asked several times to help care for me after surgeries so that my husband wouldn’t have to continually take off work. She has held back my hair when throwing-up due to post-surgical nausea, has taken us in during intensive recoveries, and even buttoned my pants after a shoulder surgery. Not many women out there can say they felt totally comfortable with their mom-in-law buttoning their jeans.
Because I have phenomenal moms, I struggle with a feeling of intense guilt every Mother’s Day that I can’t seem to see past my own grief and sadness. I guess part of this sadness comes from the fact that both of these moms have taught me how big of a blessing parenting is in a child’s life. I see the way they care for me, and I long to pass that blessing on to my own children. I know in my mind that God has a blessed plan for me and does not waste any hurt, but my heart fights to understand. I had a wise woman in my life who once said that “scripture is the mediator between what your head knows and your heart feels,” so I cling to this verse:
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”