Today is International Bereaved Mothers Day, which brings together the community of women who have lost a pregnancy. Use hashtag #iamstillstanding to participate, share your story, or remember your tiny one ♥
This is what I posted on Facebook a few minutes ago. As I began to type, I felt uncomfortable with the referring to myself as a ‘mother’. Many women in my situation (miscarriage and no kids yet) have no problem with describing themselves as a mom or their little ones as their angel babies. I wish I could; instead, I found myself needing to justify why I would dare post such an inference.
I don’t think that giving birth makes you a mother: mothers of adopted children are no less mothers than if they conceived, carried, and delivered their children themselves. What is nine months compared to the rest of your lives together?
I don’t think that because you are legally someone’s mother that you are a mother: think about all of those poor children who are abused and neglected. I have friends who refuse to call theirs ‘Mom’ and will only refer to their mothers by first name.
I have spent time with friends’ newborns and babies, and perhaps something of my own biology kicked in because I love those little kids more than other friends’ children who I have not met or spent time with. (You’d think I’d be more impartial to their offspring, or that I would love my friends’ kids as I love my friends. Not so.) I am not those kids’ mother, but I have cared for them and been entrusted with their well-being.
We have had our six-year-old dog since he was an 8-week-old puppy. Although I don’t consider myself a mother to him, my dog definitely considers me his mom: if he is upset, he slinks over for reassurance or to hide behind my legs or under my desk; if he is uncertain, he looks over at me; when he is not feeling well or needs something, I know what it is; and if he is happy, he bounds over joyfully as if to cry Look at me! Look at this! Isn’t it great?! Like it or not, I am mom (or “auntie-mum”, as I call myself) to my dog. I never meant for that to happen (actually, I always rolled my eyes when women referred to their pets as their ‘babies’ or to themselves as their ‘furbaby’s mommy’ — I am more understanding now…) but our pets are our family, and I have come to learn that a good dog guardian will, like a good parent, be both firm and tender to guide their young charges.
Standing on this side of the motherhood fence, it looks like a tough job, filled with sacrifice, patience, sleep-deprivation, disapproving stares, unwanted advice, greasy hair, pukey clothes, shitty diapers, no bathroom privacy, and adapting to a new sense of self-identity. It also looks like the best job in the world: spending time with some of the most interesting people on earth (to you, anyway!).
My eyes were open before but my short pregnancy made me see better. I never dared consider myself a mother, but I had hopes for the kind of mother that I would be one day. I considered myself a mother-to-be and focused on the kind of mothering I could do then. I nurtured and cared for my bean and made sacrifices. I never took better care of myself. I avoided stress and got really good at taking things in my stride. It doesn’t matter in the long run, what’s important is the bean. I talked to him, put my hand over where he was, and cheered him on. I was the best mother I could have been for those two months and I have no regrets or thoughts of If only I’d… or What if…. I’ve had a taste of motherhood, but it doesn’t make me a mother. My hand still absentmindedly finds its way to my lower belly sometimes. I am a mother-in-waiting.