Posted on May 11 2019
The woman with the empty arms who is forced to navigate things like grocery store aisles and shopping malls where women with children go. Where tiny, bundled-up infants ride snug in carriers on their mothers chests, where toddlers run alongside their mothers feet. You have gotten good at not even feeling the lump in your throat as you watch a father hoist his pigtailed-toddler up onto his shoulders but you know it is breaking you down, because it always does.
The woman who prepares for Mother’s Day on social media as if preparing for war. Telling yourself it’s okay to unplug, to disconnect, to spend a few days with the silence that you’ll soon realize is deafening. You don’t want to see the handmade cards, the preschool About My Mom surveys, the Mother’s Day tea posts – but you also don’t want to be alone with your thoughts, with your longing and a solitude that does nothing but remind you of all that life has not given you.
I see you.
I see you, and the way you tap your foot softly on the tile floor of the fertility specialist’s office as you flip through an old issue of People magazine and pretend that you’re reading so that you don’t make eye contact with any of the other women who are doing the same. I see the way you force yourself not to cry when the doctor tells you that she’s sorry, but it didn’t work this time. Maybe you get hope for a next time, or maybe you get told there will never be a next time but regardless, you hold it together until you exit the building and then you let the tears flood out of you so loud and fast that you frighten yourself. Maybe you scream, shaking your steering wheel and trying to calm down enough to drive.
I see you, filling out adoption applications and pulling strength out of places you never knew existed when you’re told you have a match, or when you’re told that match fails. When you have to present a birth mother with a book about yourself and wonder if she sees you how you see yourself, or if she can see the you that once resided underneath the layered rock of grief, loss and heartbreak.
I see you.
I see you wishing for the slobbery kiss of a toddler on your cheek, for an elementary student to wipe their sweat on your shirt when they come in for a hug. I see you dreaming of applauding at high school graduations and dancing at weddings. I see you, mostly, standing there and wondering if you will never see these things after all.
You, with your heartbreak and loneliness and enough baggage dragging behind you that it feels like you’ll never catch up. Your arms are so empty that they ache. The woman behind you at Starbucks will joke and say, “want one of mine? You look so peaceful and they’re driving me crazy!” and she will laugh so raucously that she won’t notice the way your hands shake underneath the weight of it all.
But I see you. I see you, and the emptiness that you swear is invisible to everyone around you. I see you, and the way Mother’s Day burns at your flesh like the sun on a summer day and you wonder how it has gotten through the clouds.
I see you, and your pain. I see you, and your love. I see you, and the person you were and know you can be again if only. I see the pain that radiates especially sharp on Mother’s Day, and I hold you close from afar.
I see you.