The Downfall of Hope

“I’ve never known Mother’s Day without grief. I’ll never know it without grief. I would love to celebrate it, enjoy it, and feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel on this day. I want that. I want to know what it feels like to be a Mother who relishes in the love of her family without that nagging, horrible feeling of sadness”. 

I’d managed the day. I was barely doing it, I was more fragile than I had been most of the month, but I was trudging through the day. I had cried a bit in the morning, but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I was going to make the best of this day, even if I felt miserable.  Even though everything is a trigger, a reminder of all the things I don’t get to see, or have. When the kids line up to hug their mothers, I wish for one more set of arms to wrap around my neck.

Dinner was over, and evening was coming. In a moment, the conversation turned to adoption. I felt my stomach flip a dozen times. I bit my tongue. Someone mentioned that a family member was so selfless for spending the day with the birthmother. Another person, confused, asked if the mother was trying to get the baby back.

“That’s open adoption”, I spit out fiercely. The tone in my voice surprised me.

The look in the person’s eyes told me I would have to explain.

“Birthmothers have no rights. In Alberta? She had ten days to redact. The baby is a year. She would never, she can never get that baby back.” I managed to say, my tongue still throbbing from how I was biting it.

As the conversation continued, I busied myself on my phone. I posted to Twitter. I ignored the conversation about myths, and birthmothers, because today, I couldn’t correct them any more than I already had. I could not manage to explain to them that they were just helping to perpetuate the myth of the Crazy Birthmother, and the Awesome Adopter who saved the baby.

On Mother’s Day, I’m in full self-preservation mode. You will not see me go into battle over adoption.

The Hubby was standing in front of me, watching me fiddle with my phone.

“Have you heard from Them?” he asked, nonchalantly.

I wanted to punch him in the stomach.

“What?” I asked, my eyes wide, and my head cocked with a expression that I was hoping he would understand. The one that says, “No, do not. DO NOT”.

“Have you heard from Them?” he repeated.

My eyes began to water. I stared at him.

“No. Why would I?” I responded shortly.

Quickly, I turned my back to the rest of the table. I was going to fall apart. In front of people, something I refuse to do. I would not give anyone the benefit of seeing my grief. I don’t want anyone to see what it feels like, the raw, horrifying pain that comes with being invisible on Mother’s Day.

Moments later, I found myself, locked in the bathroom, on the floor crumpled like a discarded rag doll, crying into my hands. The Kiddo’s family had been silent. Like they had been last year, and of course, this year, unless it was him, I didn’t want to hear from them. I knew it would be radio silence from them, and yet, there was this glimmer of hope. From where it came, I had no idea.

As I cried at the bathroom walls, the sounds of laughter echoing from the rooms outside, I felt a wave of loneliness hit me. I felt broken, and weak, disappointed and sad. I knew later I would get angry at my husband for even asking that question; even though I had been checking my email and phone every so often during the day to see if there was a message from The Kiddo. Maybe, I had reasoned, his parents had a change of heart, and realized the grand mistake they had made. Maybe they would want to make things right. Maybe this Mother’s Day, I would hear from the child I so desperately wish to know.

And yet, the impossibility of it all was thick. I knew that I was hoping for a miracle.  I realized that even without a relationship with them, I would always hope for him. I knew I would always want to see him, to know him, and to have him wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. Even when the odds are stacked against us.

In that bathroom, I thought of all the women, just like me. The ones who have lost their children, for whatever reason. I cried for all of us. How can anyone truly grasp what it’s like to spend a day meant for joy, wrapped up in the sorrow of what isn’t? You smile for all that you have, because you have so much, and you are so blessed, but your heart breaks, cracks just a little further. It’s another storm weathered, and you wonder if you will ever not feel paralyzed by the loss of this child. Is there an end to this grief?

I couldn’t come up with any answers, of course. I suspect, that even in reunion, there is still an innate presence of loss, regret and disappointment. I suspect that the memories will still rush back, and you’ll wonder how you’ll make it through another holiday where no one will speak that child’s name, or hug you a little tighter, or want to let you cry on their shoulder. Because no one really understands what it’s like to hear a word, a question and feel like the world is sitting on your chest, expecting you to react differently.

I expected me to react differently. Perhaps that’s what bothered me most of all. However, the power of that grief, and the realization that I’ll always been invisible in this branch of my life was a tough pill to swallow.

One day, maybe it will change. But it certainly didn’t change this year.

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