When Mother’s Day Is the Worst Day of the Year

Lighting the candle for pray

I am a mom.  I love moms (even the scary ones) and I love celebrating the crap out of ourselves come Mother’s Day.  But every year around this holiday, the old panic creeps up my legs into my sucky little ovaries and I look around wild-eyed at the waiting women, the hurting ones, my infertile sisters jacked up on hormone drugs praying fervent words of longing to a God they aren’t sure is listening anymore.

Every year I’m for them.

I’ve never recovered from the inner cringe that happens every time Mother’s Day rolls around.  When Mother’s Day is the worst day of the year…for so many years…it leaves a mark.

So to the women who are moms in their hearts but not in their homes, the ones with empty wombs feeling the ominous toll of monthly not-yets, I hold you in my heart this week.  Every week I think of you and ache with you, but this week in particular the wounds feel fresh.

If you’ve experienced infertility and now have children by birth or paperwork running around your house, you understand.  This week we hug our kids a little tighter.  They give us side eyes as we caress their sweaty heads and breathe sappy things into their ears.

Sometimes infertility feels forever ago, and then someone announces the Stick Turned Blue and I’m right back in the emotions, the longing, the feeling left out.  It was another lifetime and it was yesterday.  A part of me will always be that woman with her face pressed up against the glass looking in on what she can’t have.

I’m thrilled doing-the-running-man happy dance to get to blog about motherhood and also devastated that my very name, Mom, brings pain to a woman who isn’t in this place.

And so there’s the tension.  Of wild partying in the Mommy Club and intense grieving over the ones experiencing the pain that I remember too well.  And I can’t and won’t resolve the tension, but instead acknowledge them both.  I will woo-hoo and weep for all the women, the whole gamut of motherhood.

This Sunday, while woo-hooing the precious moms I adore, I intercede for the barren with prayers to a God I don’t understand.  I exchange knowing gazes and nod my head with respect.  The wound is healed, but the scar is gargantuan.

I light a candle for the waiting ones.

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  • OffTheCuffCooking

    I love you, you know?

    • Melanie Dale

      Friend, you were beating in my heart while I wrote this.

  • Lisa Wilson Rogers

    Wow – so well said & felt.
    Not an issue of barrenness for me as much as life choice – choosing to not single parent imagining it would be better to be married to have children & a partner & dad for those imagined kiddos. Who knew I would be 52 when I got married.
    Blessed to have been able to love on so many kids in different roles, yet the pain is still real for me too regarding this holiday of incompleteness.
    Joining you in prayer,

    • Melanie Dale

      Lisa, yes, you understand the pain of longing and waiting. Hugging you through the internet!

  • Tiffiney Holmes

    Hey Melanie! I love your writing! It’s so real and “un-churchified,” and funny, too! It inspires me to find my own voice and write bravely, even when I think others may not approve. My favorite Holly Gerth quote is: “Everyday, try to write in a way that scares you a little.” So, thank you both!

    With your permission, I’d love to feature this post on Welcome Home Ministry tomorrow. I’ve been looking for a way to address this topic for a while now, and truthfully, I don’t think I can say it any better. I’d be honored if you’d allow your words to be shared with the Welcome Home community.

    Holla Back!
    Welcome Home Ministry

    • Melanie Dale

      Hey, Tiffiney! I emailed you. :)

  • Marcie McMillian Mann

    Ditto!!! Well said!

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Marcie.

  • Karen Anderson Cotta

    As one who was told she would not have kids. God did finally bless us with jonathan at the age of 35 and 10 years into our marriage, After many losses, infertility tests and treatments. My miracle baby turned 17 on may 1. This as we mourned the unexpected loss of my husband of 27 years and Jonathans father. I wonder if i will ever receive another mothers day card (as john always took care of that). I dont need a gift, but a card acknowledging that i am a mother. A loving, caring, selfless mother. And now that john is gone there is someone in this world who loves me unconditionally.

    • Melanie Dale

      So many emotions, Karen. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so elated for your miracle baby turning 17. You are a loving, caring, selfless mother!

  • Michelle Polis

    Very well said! Mother’s day became hard for me 8 years ago, when my mom suddenly passed away (I was 26 at the time). It became twice as hard when I began to struggle with infertility. We are going on three years with the struggle, but we try to remine hopeful. Thank you for posting this!

    • Melanie Dale

      Michelle, I’m praying for you right now. I’m aching for you and hoping with you.

      • Michelle Polis

        Thank you!

  • NC Mom

    After reading this article I feel a little better about my own feelings. I thought I was weird or strange because that feeling of not being a mom is still there haunting me from the past, even though I have 2 little ones of my own by paperwork. I am blessed to be called mom but also remember the pain of not being able to conceive. Thank you for writing this article.

    • Melanie Dale

      I’m so glad we can share these feelings and sit in them together through the internet. It’s such a mixture of emotions.

  • Jamie

    This is beautiful. I am basically speechless but wanted to say I really enjoyed the article. It does make me want to squeeze my kids a little tighter today, and every day. I often take for granted how easily our first was given to us (surprise!) but this takes me back to the raw emotion and downright anger of struggling for our second child, and the ones we’ve lost. Thank You and Happy Mother’s Day to all!

    • Melanie Dale

      The struggle is different for many of us, infertility, secondary infertility, miscarriage, and more, but you’re right, we share much of those raw emotions. Happy Mother’s Day, Jamie.

  • Ann Dolina

    You brought tears to my eyes. I remember the 5 years of trying to conceive and what an awful reminder Mother’s Day was of what we didn’t have. I am a mother now with one son, but Mother’s day is still so bittersweet. You’re right in that the scar never truly goes away. Well said.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Ann. It was 5 years for me as well. Bittersweet, beautiful, hard, wonderful, painful…all of it.

  • 2monstersmom

    There were so many years that I thought I’d never be a mommy. After many loses though, I had my first. All I could ask ever ask for. Then, along came number 2 a year and 9 days later. Almost 5 years after that, I got #3!
    But there will always be that part of me that completely remembers the dread that Mother’s Day would bring; the thoughts of, “will it ever happen?”

    • Melanie Dale

      Yes. Sigh. Yes.

  • DA Schuhow

    O thank you for accepting the tension instead of trying to explain it away.

    • Melanie Dale

      Keeping the tension is so important. :)

  • Maura

    And for all the women who long to be moms but for reasons other than infertility aren’t there yet.

    • Melanie Dale

      Amen and amen, Maura. Yep.

  • Jes Brenna Nelson

    Thank you for honoring those of us still on this side of the wall. I have been avoiding posts about blissful motherhood and the joyful moms who get to be hugged and kissed tomorrow. Ihave been desperately seeking posts that contain words that speak to me. I just lost my fifth pregnancy a cpl months ago and I still can’t see my way out of the darkness. I am so numb and scared. Raw and fragile. The pain is incomprehensible and the sadness consumes my quiet moments. I wanted so badly to declare this mother’s day mine…finally. But it wasn’t mine…yet again. I had to release it back to ocean of tears and clammer back up onto the boat and ride these familiar waters again…all the while watching my friends and friends of friends coast onto shore with ease and party all day on the island of mommyhood. I am heartbroken and tattered. Mother’s Day is my nemesis and it will be the first time in all my life that I don’t wish anyone a happy mother’s day…this year, I turn my back on it and let others revel. This year I will allow myself to visit the grave of my beloved and honor myself for being a strong woman who has yet to be a mother to the living.

    • Melanie Dale

      Jes, I have no words. You’ve written it beautifully. I’m aching for you. Sigh. I light a candle for you.

  • Renuka Sethi

    So beautiful!

  • The Crafty Angel

    Beautiful. Losing my Mother in law and my Beloved Grandma years ago to cancer make Mother’s day a bit hard. I honor not just moms, but those who mother me, mother my family, and I honor those who have an angel in heaven or the dream of a child in their heart.





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