Why Mother's Day Is Hard For Me, but I Still Wish You a Happy One
- I am childless by choice, and I still stand by that decision wholeheartedly, but
- I had cervical cancer eight years ago that resulted in the removal of both my cervix and uterus, and the doctors encouraged me to have a baby right away and put off treating my cancer for a year, which threw me into a complicated spiral of guilt, questioning what I thought were previously established decisions, offering my husband an option to leave and pursue a family with someone who could and wanted to provide one, unnecessary shame over perceived physical failure, and anger at a system that would ever value me enduring a pregnancy with over five months of bedrest (if I didn't miscarry or suffer cancer-related complications) over immediately treating my very real cancer, and
- now I am 42 and experiencing that last-gasp, biological urge some of us get to have our last possible offspring quick quick quick, but
- I still don't actually want to be a mother, as much as my biology is panicking about its swiftly fleeting fertility, even though I obviously can't produce a baby anyway, because of the whole cancer thing, so I live with my brain telling me to do things daily that conflict with both my desires and my basic anatomy, but,
- aside from all of that personal bullpucky, the ideal of motherhood we hold up is a straightjacket on our culture's ability to see women as full humans equal to men, as it ties most of our cultural worth to our ability to reproduce and not to who we are as self-directed human beings,
- and, at this point in history when the gender binary is still assumed and celebrated in most cases, Mother's Day also foists the assumption of my position on that binary with all its stereotypes of women and motherhood into my inbox and onto my internets and through my offline life, which rubs me so raw I feel like I've got spiritual blisters, and,
- while I stand strong in my fertility choices and gender issues, they effectively render me invisible or undervalued in so many situations and conversations including but not limited to family life and society at large, professional opportunities, awards valued within my community, and empathy and compassion from a non-male perspective, among many others, and then
- I am further rendered invisible when my vagina ownership and age move people to ask me every week about my assumed motherhood or give me sympathetic looks and comments, as though my childless situation is obviously so pathetic, plus
- today's onslaught of PR emails wishing me a Happy Mother's Day! and telling me how much I am Valued As A Mom! serves to rub in my deepening perceived lack of belonging, and
- I would rage about it all much more loudly today while I sit here and eat my feelings — which are delicious, by the way, because my chocolate chocolate chip microwave mug cake is fantabulous — but I do really value the mothers in my life, both familial and social, because as much as I both chose and did not choose to forego motherhood and experience ongoing fallout, I think all you people who have pursued and/or stumbled into motherhood, which is fraught with all its own complications and struggles, tend to kick so much ass loving the people you work hard to feed and keep clean, and you should be honoured, even if the cultural ideal of motherhood this one particular day tends to push could use a wild evolution.
Moms, keep on with your bad selves. I love you. Happy Mother's Day! I'll be over here eating cake.
PS. This whole entry was only five sentences long, four of which only happened in the last two or three lines. I hope you remembered to breathe.