Mother’s Day reflections

I’m still here.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing, but not publicly. I’ve taken (again) to journaling. You know? The good, ol’ fashioned pen and paper? I wrote in November about some of the struggles my family was going through late last year. December was a tough month; within about a 3 week time span, my grandfather passed away, my mom had brain surgery to remove a benign tumor and (on that same morning) a beloved aunt passed away. In all of this, I also turned 30, have been struggling with some interpersonal relationships and have been going through some exciting professional developments.

I’ve said time and time again, I process through words, especially in community with others. Hence, my blog. But a lot of the stuff I’ve been processing and reflecting has been deeply personal and raw. Stuff that is better processed privately for my own reflection and growth.

But I also have been encouraged by comments – both via social media and in person – from those who have been touched by things I have to say. I have been encouraged by others who are vulnerable in their own public sharing.

So here I am again, even if it feels vulnerable and even if I feel like a broken record. I wonder if some might think that I’m a broken record, speaking of longing and loss again. But others are living that broken record with me, feeling and experiencing the same or similar grief in their own lives. May my “tune” be a reminder that you’re not alone, that I’m not alone.

I wanted to write about Mother’s Day yesterday, but I needed a little distance from the day. I needed a sleep and a morning coffee before I could write words. Mother’s Day this year was bittersweet. The week before Mother’s Day, my family traveled with me to Ottawa for some work-related meetings. Following the meetings, my family took some vacation time in Ottawa (to see the tulips and the “castle” as A.J. calls it, or otherwise known as Parliament) and then on to Montreal where we met up with my parents, grandmother, uncle and extended family for the internment of my great aunt who passed away in December. Mother’s Day was spent in Montreal with my mom and grandmother, and then the rest of the day was spent on a long drive home to wrap up the week.

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Being away from home provides perspective. Returning to our peaceful home last night gave me fresh eyes for what I love most here. My peaceful places are my kitchen and gardens, so returning last night to see what has started blooming since I’ve been gone and making Dutch pancakes for A.J. in my kitchen this morning was so nice.

In the years of infertility before having A.J., Mother’s Day was a day spent celebrating the mothers and women in my life mixed with grief and mourning that it was difficult to become a mom myself. The years immediately following A.J.’s birth, I was celebratory. I was more reflective of the complexities of Mother’s Day – especially for those who find the day to be painful – but ultimately I was so incredibly thankful that I could celebrate the day as a mother. This year, I felt myself slipping back into feelings of longing tinged with grief.

These are not new feelings, but Mother’s Day amplified some of the reflections I’ve been having over the last couple of months.

We are 2 years into this second journey of infertility. I often find myself seeking to be intentionally thankful. As I dwell on infertility, I remind myself that when I wallow, I am missing out on what’s right in front of me. As I want another child, I don’t want to miss out on the joyful moments with the incredibly fun-loving, delightful child I do have. (I am currently watching her do yoga; she makes me smile so much, I can hardly bear it). I also don’t want to miss out on the other opportunities in my life. Infertility comes with so many choices – when to proceed, what treatments to pursue, how much to divulge with family and friends.

There’s a tension between being thankful and living in the moment, and mourning for the loss I feel. I try not to be blinded by longing, I try to live every day thankful for the blessings I do have. But some days are more difficult than others. Some days, I log onto social media to find another pregnancy announcement(s). I can’t help but realize that in the span of our 7 year infertility journey, some of my friends have completed growing their family or are on to their third, fourth, fifth, and – yes – even sixth child.

This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip. I’m not even intending for it to be a comparison. Because I also realize that as I sit here typing, there are some who could be reading this thinking, “well, at least Jennifer has one!” I’m painfully aware of those who have struggled with infertility longer than myself and have not been able to conceive or give birth. So I sit here feeling a little guilty for complaining.

Loss is complex. Grieving is complex. Feelings are complex.

I was encouraged yesterday by the number of people (mainly expressed via social media) who acknowledged the complexities of Mother’s Day! I had a number of people reach out to me and acknowledge the complexity of my own day. I am so appreciative for the vast number of empathetic and emotionally aware people in my life!

Here are some more pics from our time away.

A.J. rarely naps anymore… But she passed out in Byward Market which allowed Mark and I to have some drinks and yummy treats at The Brig Pub (we loved it there – highly recommend it!).

Cheese overload – shrimp fondue and brie.

Happy to be reunited in Montreal!

She had a little fun with a pen….. “Look mom! I have a tattoo on my arm like you do!”

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Canada and the third-largest in North America. It’s the cemetery where Celine Dion’s husband and Maurice “Rocket” Richard are buried. But, even more special, it’s where we laid Auntie Sheila to rest and got to visit A.J.’s great great grandmother (my great grandmother).

A.J.’s great great grandmother

All I wanted for Mother’s Day was Todd Parr’s The Mommy Book. I got this and more from my daughter and husband.

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