To the girl who makes Mother’s Day hurt a little less,
You’re only three—so obviously you won’t be reading this.
But I hope that when you’re old enough you’ll read this letter. Because it’s just for you. And through changes, the years, and possibly even new brothers or sisters, it’ll never be exactly like THIS again. So I wanted to write it now so you can look back at this exact point in time when it was only you–and know exactly how I feel.
I’m going to be frank.
Mother’s Day is awful for me. It’s by far my least favorite holiday. In years past I have taken off work so I don’t have to confront it, I have cried the entire day, I have gone to bed hours early just to usher in Monday. I have hated it every single year.
But this year I sit here staring at our family picture right beside me—and I feel a twinge of something a little bit different.
Gratitude. I think that’s what it is.
Gratitude that this year, because of you—Mother’s Day hurts a little less.
I never thought things would happen the way they did.
As a woman who has wanted a child since I could walk and who hoarded dolls like a prepper hoards canned food, I dreamed of getting pregnant easily without a hitch and having babies with the man I love without a second thought. I dreamed of decorating a nursery and wearing cute maternity tops and writing out lists of baby names as I snacked on all my favorite food cravings. I dreamed of “normalcy”. Just a normal woman with a normal life and a normal baby to call my own.
I never imagined meeting my first child when she was just the baby of my best friend and then becoming a bonus mommy to her a couple years later. I never imagined she wouldn’t share my blood or that she wouldn’t have my eyes. I never in a million years would have imagined that becoming a mother figure would also mean enduring a painful, ostracizing, sometimes unbearable process. I didn’t plan out in my young little heart how it would feel to be the one who came AFTER, adjusting to a life that began before I was even in the picture. I didn’t prepare myself for the tears, the anger, the support groups, the books, the constant daily lessons of becoming a step mom.
And yet—I want you to know that I’d have it no other way.
This Mother’s Day we were given some beautiful news.
After months of hormone treatments, my doctor for the first time in my life looked me in the eyes and told me my Endometriosis has cleared for a window of time and my chances of having a baby naturally are just as high as anyone else’s now. And although our joy is through the roof at the good news, the grief of infertility that I’ve carried over the past five years doesn’t just vanish. Infertility sticks with you, long after you’ve seen success or have triumphed over it or have been given some hope. I hope you never know the feeling.
There is no antidote for that grief.
But you make it hurt a little less.
You came into my life so swiftly—a bundle of energy that buzzes with electricity, excited about the world—blowing dandelions and running down hills and painting pictures with your little fingers and learning manners at the table and jumping on my stomach in the grass. You were born into my heart at two years old, already walking and talking and playing—yet so quick to love me. Right away you claimed my lap as your own, claimed me as your dance partner, and labeled me as your healer of every bruise and cut. Right away you watched me take pictures and decided you wanted to be a “picture taker” too. Right away you claimed my heart and became my first.
I didn’t have time to do anything else but to realize, within our whirlwind, that my first child had come to me unconventionally and without preparation—but she had come, all the same.
Being a mother has always topped my list of desires and I anxiously await the day when I get to experience the feeling of carrying a biological baby and painting a nursery wall and picking out a name. But if, by some fluke of fate or misfortune, I don’t get to have that—I will be forever grateful that life still let me be a mother.
And it’s because of you.
All two feet, strawberry blond, dancing, giggling, sassy, sweet-as-pie yet fierce as thunder–you.
Life didn’t work out how I had planned it. Not at all.
Little girls don’t dream about getting a divorce and getting surgeries and shots to get pregnant and then becoming a mother figure to a child who is not their own. Little girls don’t dream of the kind of life I have gained.
But they also don’t dream about the joy that comes when a little girl tells you they love you out of the blue, taking your hand. They don’t dream about how it feels to splash in a bathtub with a little girl who has become your best friend—laughing until you cry. They simply can’t rationalize the joy that comes when you pick that little girl up at daycare and she runs to you and cries in joy that you’re there, kissing you and telling you she missed you. They don’t know how it would feel to look in your backseat through the rear view mirror and catch her eye and have her do a kissy face to remind you that she loves you.
Little girls can’t dream of having a little girl like you because it’s beyond happiness that can be comprehended.
I never dreamed this. But I’ve quickly learned that my reality is so much better than the plans I made.
Thank you for making this Mother’s Day a little bit easier.
I know I’m a bonus parent in your life—an addition that hopefully makes your life a tad bit easier along the journey. A bonus friend and parent and cheerleader and fan that will buoy you up just a little bit more when the waves hit.
But to me you’re not a bonus at all. And I hope you always know that.
To me, you’re the answer to many prayers I uttered through tears and the end result of all of the lonely Mother’s Days, and all of the “hopefully someday’s”.
You let me be a mom.
To me, that’s more than a bonus.
To me, that’s everything.
Your forever grateful “bonus” mom