"How many kids do you have?" It seems like an easy enough question, but I can't stand the awkwardness it causes me to feel. I hate to make anyone feel uncomfortable by answering honestly, but I also feel that if I don't acknowledge Matthew's life, then I'm not being fair to him either. He doesn't deserve to be forgotten, ignored or betrayed. Pretending he was never born does nothing but make those around us feel better, those who never really cared about us to begin with.
The first time this really sticks out to me was a couple years after Matthew died, on Mother's Day. We were at church when a well intentioned pastor did the cute game where he had all the moms stand up.
"If you have more than one child stay standing." Uh oh. I could see where this was heading. Panic.
"More than 2?" Still I stood, wondering what I would do in the next question. People who didn't know me well would be confused if I stayed standing after the next question. What IS the correct answer? DO I only have 3 children? Then came the dreaded statement.
"Stay standing if you have more than 3 children!" Reluctantly, I made my choice. I denied my son. As I sat, I felt the world close in around me. I looked around to see that only one woman remained standing, only one woman with 4 children. Everyone smiled and cheered for the mother as she was awarded a bouquet of flowers for her hard work of giving birth to 4 children. I wanted to scream that I, too, had four babies. I had not only given birth to 4 babies, but I'd had to say goodbye to one the same day I said hello. Didn't anyone realize what was happening? Did anyone remember him?
The tears started to fall. It had nothing to do with the flowers, the smiles or the applause. I didn't care about that. I couldn't face the fact that I said he never existed in front of God, my family, my church and myself so others wouldn't feel weird. I was angry at myself. I had to leave service. I felt like I had betrayed Matthew. Again.
Since that, Mother's Day has been anxiety inducing for me. I wonder what cute antics will be pulled at church. Will I have to be faced with that decision again?
Mother's Day is for celebrating moms. It's a day to tell our own mamas how thankful we are for them and for our kids to give us cute little gifts they made at school. I used to like Mother's Day, but now I feel a sense of dread leading up to it. I know I'm so extremely blessed, and I feel guilty even saying those words. I have three amazing kids here to celebrate with. I still have my mom and mother-in-law that I love dearly. I know this, yet there is still an ache in my heart that won't go away.
These are words I've never uttered on any Mother's Day because it seems so silly and selfish, when I'm so obviously fortunate. So many would love to switch places with me, to have children of their own, or to have a chance to see their moms one more time. I know this. It's not anything I haven't told myself a million times, but part of me wants to just crawl into my bed and stay there for the day. I know it's not fair to the rest of my family, so I don't, but the urge is strong.
Until this year, I didn't think anyone could understand, so I didn't share. I should be able to move on and not feel like this anymore. It has been six years. I wouldn't want to mention it to anyone. I don't want to be a downer. It just sucks. You don't feel happy, but you want others to be happy so you suffer in silence. The alternative? You do what makes you happy and make everyone else upset in the process. No matter what, someone loses. Better just me than every else, so I plaster on a smile, not nearly as convincing as I think I am, and go through the events of the day.
All of a sudden, this year, I've seen others sharing the same feelings. I've heard mom's like me say the same thing. I feel normal. You mean I'm not a major Debbie Downer? This year, for the first time, I feel like I can speak out loud what's in my heart, without feeling like I'm being a complete jerk for not just being thankful for what I do have, and I AM thankful.
I wonder if I will ever have my joy restored. I ctch glimpses. Some days I feel better than ever, other days I think it's just going to take some more time. How much longer?
Psalm 13:1 Lord, how long must I wait? Will you forget me forever? How long will you face away from me?