Mother’s Day as a New and Grieving Mother

This time last year, I was an expectant mother of twin girls. I celebrated my unofficial first Mother’s Day with Peter in the morning, and then celebrated my own mother and grandmothers that afternoon and called Peter’s mother that evening. Mother’s Day was the first time I felt one of the girls kick. I got out our at-home doppler to listen to their heartbeats, and I felt a hiccup or flutter at the same time that I heard a distinct whooshing sound of movement. It was pure bliss.

A year later, I find myself trying to reconcile the unbelievable amount of love I feel for Olivia with the overwhelming sense of loss.

I want so badly to feel nothing but joy in my little family. And I can see it on the faces of everyone who loves me. That’s all they want for me, too. They want the old me back, the one who was so looking forward to being a mom and giving her all to that child. I can see the worry etched on Peter’s face when I get lost in my grief, and it only adds guilt on top of grief.

As the clock ticks down to my first Mother’s Day, I don’t know how to feel. I feel full and empty at the same time. Love and loss. Thankful and angry. Whole and broken.

This day is going to be so hard because not all of my babies are here with me in my arms, and they never will be. And I’m not the only one who has to spend some of her energy on this day grieving.

To those whose arms have never held the baby or babies that your heart has longed for or your body has carried for any amount of time, I see you, I grieve with you, and I hold your babies in my heart, too.

To those whose arms no longer hold a child that they once held, my heart breaks for you, and I hold you and your child in my heart.

To those whose own mothers are no longer here on earth to hold them, I know it is nowhere close to the same, but I hold you tight.

Through my loss groups, I actually found out that the mother who inspired Mother’s Day, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, was a bereaved mother to between seven and nine children (accounts differ on the number of children she had). Jarvis began Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to help families in her community and surrounding ones, and during the Civil War, to provide neutral aid to soldiers. Her daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis, was 12 years old when she heard her mother close a Sunday school lesson with a prayer. “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” Anna, who never had children of her own, worked hard to establish Mother’s Day after her own mother passed away.

In a way, knowing this history brought me some comfort, and maybe it will bring you some, too, if the day is hard for you.

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