Monday, May 10, 2010

My Big Gaping Hole

I sent my mom a vibrant orange and fuchsia bouquet for Mother's Day. She seldom receives flowers, (dad's not the type) so I knew that would be a hit.

But I didn't get to see her. A quick phone call before she went to bed Saturday night in a different time zone and that was the extent of the festivities.

Then, I woke up Sunday morning and checked Faceb00k to find dozens of Mother's Day greetings between spouses... gratitude for children from all the mommies I know. It actually hurt my feelings.

You know, that punched-in-the-gut feeling, like when - at my last job - every time I looked out the window from my desk I saw stay-at-home-mommas pushing strollers past my office... and it felt like they were rubbing it in. "Look at me, I have everything you want. I husband, a house and babies. Neener, neener."

I made sure to toss a hanky in my purse as I left for church.

Cringing, I anticipated Fr. Awkward's standard Mother's Day homily.
He's sweet to include all women as Mothers... but it actually hurts more. Yes, I am given the gifts of motherhood. I have maternal tendencies which are a blessing from my creator. But that doesn't make up for the fact that I don't have children and probably never will. I prayed he wouldn't say it again.

Before Mass my regular pew-mate, a trim, beautiful and stylish 60-something widow, settled in next to me. "How are you?" she asked with genuine friendship. I could only shake my head and let the waterworks start. I explained that I was hurting because I so want a family. Even just a two-person family, me and a husband.

In an attempt to console she said, "That's not the only vocation."
Because I like her, I resisted socking her in the mouth.

I cried all through Mass.I cried for my eternal loneliness and for my friend's recent miscarriage - making this her first, sad Mother's Day. My hanky was soaked.

My widow friend leaned over and said, "Sometimes church is the loneliest place on Earth."
I nodded my agreement.

Then I went to work at the portrait studio to photograph other people's families - and a special session for a ripe, expectant mother - my specialty.I turned numb to keep from crying, so I was not my lively self.

Her husband asked if we were busy that day.
"Yes." I said, "It's Mother's Day. It's lousy."
"Are you a mother?" he asked.
"No." I replied, "That's why it's lousy."

His confused expression combined with his foreign accent told me he didn't understand. In his culture, you marry. You just do. He must have determined that I suffer from infertility.

The maternity session was my last appointment of the day. I went to my car and the tears flowed heavily. My cell phone rang and I squeaked a greeting. My friend heard my tears, and told me she was calling to see if I wanted to go for a walk. I squeaked out a yes and agreed to meet her at my place.

I know the Holy Spirit put me in her heart!! She came with flowers from her yard and a loving hug and just let me cry.It hurts that people just expect a person to be married with children. Like it just happens.
And that if I haven't done so - I must have chosen it.
I've heard people say they don't understand those that want a relationship... so... have a relationship! They say. What's so hard?

And I just don't know. Why is it hard for some of us? Why is it elusive when those who say such things just fall into it and don't understand why it doesn't work out for the rest of us?

Lord. That hurts. It suggests that there must be something wrong with me.

Once, while chatting with a young hairstylist as she fixed my hair for an event... she asked if I had children.
I said it with shock as if it must be obvious I don't have children. Don't you see the gaping hole? Don't you see the missing piece? It's so obvious to me. I can't believe you don't see it.

"Do you want children?"
Yes. Of course."
Then why haven't you had any?"
I'm not married.
Which I could tell in her life experience was no excuse. Women have babies all the time whether they want one or not.

Now, as I approach my 40th birthday - I wish I'd been more irresponsible.

What hurts the most is that people don't see my big gaping hole.

If I were a widow, they would acknowledge my loss. If I were going through an ugly divorce, they would offer help. If I lost a child, they would cry with me.

But because I have not lost - I am expected to buck up and not feel pain.

I am here to tell you - never having hurts as badly as losing.
It may hurt in a different way. But it hurts in the exact same place.

Photo credits: me :-)


Jenni said... is it that you write exactly what is so often in my heart and mind?

~ifer said...

Mother's Day is a very tough one for me as well. Yes, I am married, but for whatever reason God has, we are unable to have kids. And it hurts, you are right, to hear about what a great person each and every mother is, and how they are so amazing, and I want to stand up and scream "what about me?".
My preacher helped a lot, by making his sermon focus on how amazing God made women, not just mothers. And at the end, just before his final prayer, he said "for all the mothers, grandmothers, soon to be mothers, and those desperately wanting to be mothers, I praise God for all of you".
And I teared up.... because I felt like he understood. That he knew that there were those hurting. That there were those out there that were not mothers, but desperately wanted to be.
I felt like I was a little less alone.

Tay said...

My religion is very family-focused, children-focused, spouse-focused. Married without kids? Good luck feeling unselfish, even if it's infertility. Not married? You must be doing something wrong. In my opinion, these pretenses are so wrong, and as the saying goes, when you assume you make an ass of u and me.

I never know how to act or feel on Mother's Day, let alone what to say to my dear friends who are single or without children. So I mostly just give a hug and some affection, some one-on-one attention so they know that I love them and appreciate the relationship I have with them. I wish I knew better what to do.

Anonymous said...

i shouldn't be at the computer now but needed to stop by to send

'a hug for both of us'

i know the pain of whys that are not answered and don't disappear

Judith said...

I have those feelings too. Hugs.

Genevra said...

:( I am also sending a big hug. I know it must have really hurt to write the post, but I am so happy that you did. There is great comfort in knowing that one doesn't walk a certain path alone.

I don't know why it is easy for some to fall into relationships and not others. Or why some are blessed with children and others aren't.

But I do feel your pain and I am so happy that you are my bloggy friend who understands where I come from as a single woman who would love to be a wife and mother.

Andi said...

I feel you. I'm 35, single, and dating. It's only been recently that I've started hearing that clang, clang, clang of the biological clock. For the first time, I intentionally skipped church because it was Mother's Day. We were on our way to church but I was already crying (over a non-related issue) and I knew that I was not emotionally in a place to handle it. And, yeah, my FB news feed was nothing but "happy mother's day to all the mothers", too.

Kelley said...

hugs...thank you for sharing so honestly. And yes, never having does hurt.

Jessica said...

Thank you for articulating so well what many of us feel. I am in basically your same situation, and also spent most of church service yesterday in tears. Thank goodness "God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (I John 3:20)

Anonymous said...

TRS: Again, you touch me, I understand we have commented before try turning 50 this year, yes, I was married for 10yrs and divorced he couldn't have any and to see my sister's and their kids, and friends and their kids i too see this on my facebook, and I hid some of it, just to avoid it. I barely looked at it yesterday at all,it is something I want so badly, the guy I talked to you about hurt me badly on Friday it started on Thursday, I spent mother's day with my bff as she lost one of her daughters through a trajic accident, but, still has the other children with her, she doesn't celebrate mother's day as she feels you should be appriecated every day and that we don't have singles day.and feels it's unfair as she knows it is hard on me as well, as I will be Celione Dion who had a child late in life. You are not alone,never think you are. IM here for you and you touch me with your words, I go to church, but I have avoided those holidays to go anymore along with Christmas and Easter only because of these things but I go all year round.
God is with you like he is all of us that have this feeling, and we are here for each other. You still have time, I eventually will not, but, I got alot to ask God, when I get there.
God Bless you and IM glad I found your blog.

erinannie said...

Darlin, that was one of the best blog posts you have ever written.
in return, i shall share with you the best text i got yesterday. I got plenty of "happy mother's day" and "happy womanhood day" posts. And well, I hated them all. I am with you.
But the best one of them all came from BFF Jules.
"Happy aren't you glad your womb has never hosted a parasite day!"

TRS said...

@ Erin. That's hilarious!

mara said...

I thought this was a wonderful, heartbreaking post. I have those feelings too.

Liz said...

I feel for you.

In the UK we had Mothers' Day weeks ago, but it doesn't alter the fact that the rest of the world was celebrating it on Facebook and PostSecret. It was made all the worse for me by the fact that a male friend who I thought might have been something more, told me last week that it wouldn't. Cue falling into a massive black hole.

I suppose the only other thing to do is look to God to fill the hole that remains. I'm not sure even that will stop the pain though.


Katie said...

Oh pal, I'm so sorry.

2 weeks ago a comment was made over the pulpit at my church about being a mom and having kids and I just lost it. I was so heartbroken that I started sobbing. I had to get up and leave, pretending that I had a problem with my contacts.

It was horrific.

TRS said...

Misery loves company.

That idiom smacks of something icky...but it's true. It is so helpful to know that others bear the same pain and therefore understand. It's called compassion. It is of God.

Thank you all for leaving a bit of your hearts here for me. Please know that you all are held in mine as well.

Katie, I'm so sorry for that hurt. I just realized it may have been from another member of your church, and not from a minister - which stings all the more doesn't it?

Liz, I know that God desperately wants to fill in that pain. I do wonder if I am allowing Him though. Sometimes I think I am fighting Him with what I want. I'm trying to convince God what is good for me. He's laughing hysterically I'm sure!!

Terry, your friend is so sweet to recognize the exclusion. My friend does too... and when I told her in tears that I had to go photograph families for the rest of the day - she gave me permission to make snide remarks under my breath! ha ha.

Everyone, you bless me with your compassion. Thank you!

jean said...

Let me give you some background before I make my comment... I am one of those people that you probably despise, b/c I had a child out of wedlock at age 20. I placed him for adoption with a loving family b/c I could not give him what he needed. I married a few years later, and then divorced, but no more children. So I have a child, but I don't.

My question to you is: Do you pray only for a family, or do you pray that God will give you peace & contentment in your current state? While God created marriage, He didn't promise it to everyone. I also know several women who weren't blessed with marriage until well after their child-bearing years. God knows your heart, and He knows your hurt - more than anyone here on earth. And He loves you. I know it's hard for us in our finite minds to comprehend they why's of life but all we can do in rest in God's promises.

TRS said...


Sorry, I didn't see your comment arrive - so I hope you don't think I was ignoring you.

First and foremost... I don't despise you. (I try hard not to despise anyone...) Second... I am an adopted child myself... so I am so grateful to you on behalf of your child for making such a brave, selfless and beautiful decision. I hurt for you that you don't know your child. (making an assumption there - sorry)

Third, Yes I do pray for contentment. I have begged for God to take this desire away from me. Someone pointed out that since He hasn't relieved me of this desire... perhaps that means it is still His plan. not sure about that!

I am accepting that I might never have children... and I would be thrilled to have just a family of two. But people keep telling me that I could still have kids and I sometimes want to smack them. Having that hope stings a bit... when there is nothing one can do about until a husband presents himself!!!

Thank you for your sweet thoughts and prayers!!!