Mothers’ day (I never seem to quite know where to place the apostrophe) is one of those holidays I dreaded when I was TTC. I only experienced this for 3 years, but it seemed like at least 100. It was just the hardest thing…having to wake up to all the cheerful posts on social media, not to mention the endless radio and TV jingles. Seeing the mothers in my social media family beam and gush about the joys of motherhood always ended up reminding me of my own predicament…making me feel broken and inadequate almost. And the messages from well meaning friends, wishing me a “Happy Mothers day in advance” and praying the “By this time next year, you will have your baby” prayer was comforting…and annoying at the same time. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone? As a matter of fact, why couldn’t everyone just put a lid on it and keep the pictures of their oh-so-wonderful presents from their oh-so-wonderful kids to themselves? And if we just had to have such an annoying holiday, why couldn’t everyone just decide what day it would be celebrated already? March and May? Mothers’ Day and Mothering Sunday? Oh, give me a break!
That was how I felt for every 5 of those celebrations I went through as a woman in the TTC wilderness (I was pregnant by the 6th).
I didn’t always have this aversion for Mothers’ day. Prior to starting my (in)fertility adventure, I absolutely loved the opportunity to show my own Mommy dearest how much she was loved and appreciated. Her birthday always falls around the March celebration, so in buoyant years she would get a present for both occasions, and in broke years just one gift would have to do, but it was always marked in some way. And then when our Church would celebrate Mothers’ day later in the year, we would blow the trumpet again, and make her feel special (okay, not always with a present the second time around ☺). On a number of occasions, I fantasized about the time when I would also be celebrated by a husband and children, and looked forward to when I would be able to wear my blue and white and dance along with the other Mothers in Church. Little did I know it wouldn’t come as quickly as I thought.
So, how did I cope through 5 Mothers’ Day/Mothering Sunday celebrations? For the first few, after starting the day feeling blue and miserable, I would then proceed to throw myself into celebrating all the Mothers in my life with gusto. My Mom would get her usual gifting and toasting, and I would then proceed to send all my Mommy friends heartfelt text, BBM or Facebook messages, emphatically wishing them a wonderful day full of God’s blessings. A noble thing to do, right? Maybe, except I was always still left with a deep, hollow feeling afterwards. No matter how happy my friends were by my messages, they all had a Mothers’ day to continue celebrating. I like to use Valentine’s day as an analogy. Even if you decide to gift your girlfriends with the most exquisite present, accompanied by the most heartfelt greeting card, all she will say is thank you…before she’ll understandably return to celebrating with her boo…because that’s what the day was made for. So also Mothers’ day! Deep down, I knew it was selfish of me to expect my friends to break away from enjoying their celebration, but I couldn’t help it. I eventually ditched this coping mechanism.
The next approach I tried was making the day all about ME! In the weeks leading to Mothers’ day, I told anyone who cared to listen how I was going to spoil myself that day. How I would treat myself to lunch at a nice restaurant, and maybe a facial, and some retail therapy if I could squeeze it in. My husband would be tied down with watching his usual Premiership games, so it suited me just fine. And when the day came, I made such a big deal about my solo treats lined up, and set off with much gusto. What an epic fail that day was! The nice restaurant was filled with celebrating Mothers, and so was pretty much everywhere else. I got home feeling even more broken and dejected than when I had departed. Again, I will use a Valentines’ day experience to draw a parallel. One fine year, when I was an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, neither my 2 roommates nor myself had any tangible Valentines Day prospects. But instead of just letting the day slide, we decided to “celebrate it on our own jooor!”. So we ordered this massive cake, which we had delivered to our room on Valentine’s evening, along with several bags of QSS chicken and chips. At first, it was a lot of fun with us stuffing our faces with cake and chips, whilst listening to Heavy D’s Waterbed album on repeat. But by the album’s 5th rotation, and after one too many slices of cake, we sat there on our beds, icing on our faces, with the cold realization of how pathetic we were. We had achieved nothing, and were out of pocket by a few thousands of naira. We would have been better off if we had just let the day slide.
Which brings me to my final, and most effective coping mechanism: letting it slide. Towards the end of my TTC journey, I decided to try my best to treat Mothers’ day like any other day. I tried to keep a neutral mind whilst scrolling through my Facebook and BBM news feeds, and sent auto pilot “thank you” responses to the “Happy Mothers’ day in advance” messages I received. I spoke with my Mom, and afterwards, rather than go out, chose to stay indoors and did what I ordinarily would have on any other Sunday. I cooked a regular Sunday lunch, and settled in with a good DVD, whilst my husband busied himself watching football. And as is typical with Sundays, soon enough the day was over…and so was the celebration…and I had survived to fight another day. This was the most effective way I was able to cope.
Today, my story is different, and I am one of those women who gushes about being a Mom on my social media. I’m not apologetic about it, and don’t try to tone it down, as I think I would have felt worse and more patronized if my friends had toned down their own emotional displays when I was TTC. But what I am very careful NOT to do is impose the festivities on my friends still trying. I don’t send any “Happy Mothers’ day in advance messages”, and simply try to leave them alone, if only for that day. But for those who do reach out to me with well wishes, I am always sure to let them know how much I appreciate the gesture, I try to spend a decent amount of time on the phone or chat, and always end the conversation with a prayer. The same prayer I used to find annoying when I was TTC, I have now realized is the best gift I can give these women, as it is a reflection of my truest heart’s desire for them, for them to soon experience the wonderful, indescribable joy of motherhood.
Of course, this article is about the way I was able to cope with my own challenges with this holiday. But what works for A might not necessarily work for B. Making a huge fuss about the day might be as therapeutic for one woman as sitting out the holiday might be for another. You might not know in what bucket you fall until you have tried a few of these coping mechanisms. But the minute you find what works for you…stick with it. Don’t worry, it only lasts for 24 hours each time.
So…good luck, and baby dust to all! ☺
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Ana Carolina Reina