I told my husband -- or I asked him -- as self-absorbed as it sounded, would it be all right to not attend Sunday
mass at our regular parish which was smaller and thus, had a more intimate
setting? I would rather attend mass at a larger parish, where it would be
easier to be anonymous. And how I wanted to be anonymous that weekend. Mother's
Day struck again. And instead of easier, it was now becoming harder, a
little more difficult, slightly more depressing.
It is not that I do not have a generous heart. It is not that I do not wish
all the mothers, grandmothers, mothers-to-be, grandmothers-to-be, a happy
and glorious Mother's Day. It is not that I am selfish. I don't
know what it is. If it means that I am self-absorbed where this is
concerned, I suppose there is no other way to say it except admit it and
leave it at that. What if the priest should invite all mothers to stand so
that they could be applauded and recognised for all their hard work? But
what if there were others in a similar situation as myself? What if there
was another woman, or other women, who were going through the same hurt,
the same grief? We share each other's joy but we grieve privately.
Throughout the ages, there have been stories of barren women ... infertile
women ... women who longed for a child of their own. And of course it hurts.
It hurts very much.
Mine is a slightly different story. There is the absence of children but
for different reasons. It wasn't a choice. We didn't choose to be
childless or child-free or whatever it's called these days. Or did we? It
wasn't that we didn't want children for the rest of our lives. The truth
was that I chose not to have children with him just yet -- and vice versa
--, and what was supposed to be normal and come naturally to a husband and wife didn't come normally and naturally to me. If truth be told these days, I don't think I
really know how it all came to be. The human body is a strange and wonderful thing. So is the mind. And when both are tweaked in some way, it interferes with other areas of one's life. There always seemed to be a tomorrow.
Well, my darling girl, tomorrow is now today. And all the regrets and
heartache don't mean anything anymore for these days, it seems as if it was
all wasted energy. We went through it for a reason, whatever that reason
It is such a struggle to get
the right words out for I don’t think I really know what
those right words are. I know what I went through, what we both went
through. I know I escaped to my fantasies and wished I had another life
and wondered if it really would be so different. It was easy to dwell on that. It was easy to look over the fence at
someone else’s life and their good fortune -- especially that of motherhood -- and wondered what it was like, what it felt like. It always seemed to happen to someone else, didn’t
Early on in our marriage, there was a future to look forward to, to growing
old(er). The future arrived. We are older. The deep unhappiness that later
came and settled in was shared and endured by the both of us. It now
belongs to the past. Life is different now and yet, not really so different.
What happened, Father? Why have we come to this? It is just the two of us
... and our animals. And as much as we sometimes baby them and hold them
dear and precious to us, animals are not children. Without their presence
and active participation in our lives, I think there would be an even
darker cloud above.
My husband understood. The dear man understood and yes, we would attend
Mass at a different parish, if that was what I wanted. And it was what I
I preferred the anonymity of being part of a large crowd although I wasn't
so anonymous when the priest -- as expected -- invited all the mothers to
stand. For the most part, it was still smooth sailing throughout and I just
smiled at the appropriate moments. The way to survive it is always to smile.
There is nothing more to say, I don't think. So I suppose I will just end with this little story.
What if, my husband said, what if we attended Mass at our usual parish, sat
at our usual seats, and next to us was a young, unmarried woman who was
withchild and was thinking about aborting her baby? What if, during the
Mass, I was so affected by it all -- as Mother’s Day was so heavily stressed
upon -- that I broke down and cried
because I had no child of my own? And what if the young woman was a witness
to my pain, saw and understood? What if she was quietly touched by what she saw and heard and had a change of heart and she realised she was carrying a precious life within that
deserved to live? And she would keep her baby. What if it happened that way, asked my husband.
It was a beautiful story, I thought. But surely it was just a story.
Now that it is all over, I think that maybe I should have attended Mass at our regular
parish with its more intimate setting. I shouldn’t have been so reluctant and fearful of what might have
happened. And because of my feelings of inadequacy and because I was absorbed in my own
pain, I will never know if such a woman had been a part of the congregation
that day. But surely it was just a story.
And there are still days when I wonder what it would be like to be carrying a child within. If it did happen, it would be a miracle to be carrying a miracle within. It appears that I refuse to let this story end. Perhaps I am also in denial. But I do wonder what it would be like to carry that tiny life inside, feeling it grow. And however much I seem to struggle against it -- for the truth hurts, doesn't it -- I know that I will never know. And I will have to learn to walk away from this story.
"Oh that God would give every mother a vision of the glory and splendor of the work that is given to her when a babe is place in her bosom to be nursed and trained! Could she have but one glimpse in to the future of that life as it reaches on into eternity; could she look into it's soul to see its possibilities; could she be made to understand her own personal responsibility for the training of this child, for the development of its life, and for its destiny,--she would see that in all God's world there is no other work so noble and so worthy of her best powers, and she would commit to no others hands the sacred and holy trust given to her."
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Robert Louis Stevenson
The Child Who May Never Be
Say good-bye to the child you may never see,
say good-bye to the child who may never be.
Say one last fond farewell,
a hushed whisper,
a soft kiss on an imagined cheek.
A mother I am not,
a mother I am not to be,
or am I?
The question persists,
the question insists to be answered ... sometimes.
But I have no answer within.
I am fearful.
Childhood memories flood my mind.
Time is passing,
Time doesn't stand still,
it doesn't wait
Will these hands love?
Or will these hands destroy
Will these hands strengthen?
Or will they weaken another's spirit?
No more destruction,
no more broken promises.
Trust is vital,
but I do not trust enough
So I prepare
to say good-bye
though I still dream of newborn babes
and growing teens.
Unsure if I should let go
of my heart's desires
for the sadness sometimes overwhelms
followed by surprising tears.
And I wonder ...
Do I say good-bye to the child
who will never be?
Do I say good-bye to the child
who I will never see?
Or do I hold on with hope and faith
and yes, even love, that someday that child will be?
That someday that child will be ... mine ...
To hold ... with tenderness
To love ... with a mother's love
To cherish ... while I watch the child grow
Do I ...?