Friday, August 04, 2006

Mothering, Identity & Loss

This is from a Mother's Day message I posted to an online infertility group.

I want to give a special mother's day note to those who have lost a child in some way, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, death, failed adoptions or any other way.

As this mother's day has approached I've been pondering how my life has been defined by either my lack of children or by having them. But for children who leave too early, there's like a fuzzy gray spot in my mothering identity. I am their mom, or I was their mom, or something...however it works out, it's real. They are real and I am real and my mothering role for them is real. But I'm aware that when my friends and neighbors and ward members look at me they are seeing me as the mother of my active little girls--they aren't remembering the ones we've lost.

In a sense that's okay--I don't want to wear mourning the rest of my life, and my trust in God's eternal plan is also very real and tangible.But sometimes I wish I could introduce myself as not only the mom to Grace, Mia, and Mercie, but also to the others, named and not-yet-named, because they are as much a part of my mothering heart as the children who have stayed. On the rare occasions when a past loss does come up in conversation, I find myself reluctant to say the names of those children we've lost. It makes it more real. That seems to be uncomfortable for those around me.

If you've been in this place you know that each little spirit you mother, whether carried in your womb or nurtured in your arms or loved in your home--each one permanently and eternally changes something in you. Each child changes your heart and therefore your identity. You always exist as the pre-child mother and the mother who has been forever changed by connecting to that little soul.

On a day when we celebrate and honor our identity as mothers, it can be so very lonely to remember the babies and children who helped create us as mothers, the ones who aren't remembered by others yet will always be deeply missed in our hearts.

So to all of you who have lost a child you loved, I just want to honor your mother heart and affirm your identity as eternal mothers. I know the Lord binds up our broken hearts, but I also believe that He gives us the gift of remembrance, which can be painful at times, yet serves to validate the eternal nature of our precious relationships.

Hugs to all you mommies.

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