I know the intention was probably good, but it turns out that the day before Mother’s Day (today) is known as Birthmother’s Day.
Why the mixed feelings? Well, I don’t know that we need a separate day. I think Mother’s Day can be all-inclusive, extending to grandmothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, aunts, Godmothers, cousins, sisters, friends, and caregivers. Too broad a definition? Maybe. But as a birthmother, I don’t know that I want to be singled out on a particular day.
Now I can totally see the other side of this argument. Right now, I’m fortunate to be parenting two young girls with my husband. But the years before I had the girls were sometimes filled with a roller coaster of emotions.
I remember working at Disney on Mother’s Day one year when a family approached the Guest Relations window where I worked. (Guest Relations is a fancy term for customer service in Disney lingo). The family was so distraught. Well, scratch that. The MOM was the one who was distraught. She presented to me four, 7-day theme park and water park tickets. But there were five people in her party, each of whom needed to have a ticket. Somehow she had lost a ticket, she explained to me. These tickets were not cheap, even in the mid 1990s. Families save for years to be able to go to Disney. I knew this. And I could feel for this mom.
But we had rules. Oh sure, we could replace tickets if presented with a receipt and a viable story. Or if our ‘gut’ told us the guest was being truthful. But to replace a ticket with a face value of $160 or so was unheard of.
She tried to hold back tears as I told her I didn’t think there was anything I could do.
And then my heart hurt. This mother was telling the truth. I knew it in my gut. I looked her in the eye and we connected for a moment. I told her to hold on…and I pleaded with my supervisor to approve the replacement ticket, which thankfully, he did. She cried. I cried. I came out and hugged her. And then she squeezed my hands, looked me right in the eye and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” She didn’t even ask if I was a mother, but perhaps she knew?
My point in all this is that birthmothers are not all the same. In general, experiencing Mother’s Day as a birthmom prior to becoming a parent never really bothered me. But the story I just told clearly affected me. I can relate to feelings of loneliness, regret, wonder…and I can relate to the pain only a mother’s heart knows. Maybe there were some Mother’s Days that did bug me. And maybe, like so many other emotions, I conveniently and expertly shoved them way down to protect myself from the inevitable hurt.
But do we really need a day? Maybe some birthmothers do, and to them I say “Happy Birthmother’s Day.” Even though your heart may hurt, your choice was a brave one.
For me, I’ll enjoy Sunday with my two little monkeys. I’ll look forward to the phone call from my son (which is always so wonderful).
And I’ll ride the wave of emotions with gratitude.