With mum in Dublin. One of my brothers had the great idea of taking her to Ireland, before Parkinson’s put her in a wheelchair. To this day one of my most favourite of trips. Thanks for letting me tag along Y!

Mother’s Day is a double-edged sword for me. A day filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions.

On one side, there’s my mum. Like most, I think about her a lot on this day. Then again, I think of my mum daily so this isn’t different from any other day in that regard. Although mum left us 6 1/2 years ago, she’s always around. In my thoughts, in my heart, in the faces of my family. That is a very good thing.

When it comes to my mum, let me simply say:

If there is strength in me, it came from her.

If I know what it is to be compassionate, it’s because she taught me.

If I know what it is to be true to myself, it’s because I learned it from her.

If I know what it means to really love someone, it’s because she showed me how that’s done.

If I know what it is to live, and leave, this life with grace, it’s because I watched her do that very thing.

The words “thank you” don’t feel like enough. But it’s all I have. That and a determination to live a life that would make her proud.

As much as I miss her, I still feel her presence and am eternally grateful.

Then there’s the flip side of that double-edged sword. After trying for years to have children, it just didn’t work. It was a dream I was forced to abandon. At times, Mother’s Day delivers a sharp cleaver to the heart. You think it would dull down after all these years. And in truth, some years I don’t feel much. Seems there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

And there’s the flood of messages everywhere, like:

  • “there’s no love like a mother’s love” (thanks for making love a competition, Hallmark)
  • “the best thing I’ve ever done”
  • “the most important thing I will ever do”

On, and on, and on. As much as part of me believes there is truth in these statements, part of me also realizes that not every mother feels the same way. There is such a broad spectrum of experiences, desires and feelings on this topic. All I know is what is real for me. I’ve felt pretty much every emotion in regards to the subject.

Like that day when I got the final “it’s not going to happen for you.” It was my birthday and not even 8:00am. Happy birthday to me.

I went from the doctor’s office to my office, sat at my desk and got to work. I pushed back the thoughts and feelings about what I’d just heard. Then…a few hours later…the very lovely human that sat beside me sent out an email to the office announcing she was pregnant. Their first child. A parade of people came to her desk that day. I was genuinely happy for her, and even more crushed for me. Talk about conflicting emotions! With every person that came to congratulate her, I told myself not to break down and cry. I could do that when I got home. Now I look back, laugh and think, why the hell didn’t I just go home??? The things we do.

I’m not sharing that story to make you feel bad in any way, or feel sorry for me. I’m just explaining how Mother’s Day delivers a mixed bag of emotions to me. I have felt love, anger, joy, pain, indifference, sadness, bitterness, relief, resentment, gratitude – you name it. Emotions bouncing through me like a ping-pong ball.

I continue to scratch my head over statements like “you don’t know real love unless you’ve had a child.” Does my not bearing a child really mean I don’t know what it’s like to love a small human so much I would do anything and everything for them? I beg to differ with that….

Some have said I should adopt. Friends even said they would be more than happy to help out if I wanted to have a child on my own. Now, I applaud those who say yes to this. It just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to have a child without a father. I didn’t want to go to a sperm bank. I didn’t want to use a donor egg. None of that felt right. As selfish as it is, I wanted to look down at a little face and see myself, and the child’s father, reflected back. Which doesn’t mean I don’t at times wish I had done it.

So here I remain. Not a “mother.”

Here I am, enjoying the life I do have. What else would you have me do? Do not, however, think that I don’t have children “because my lifestyle wouldn’t allow it.” For that matter, how about we all stop judging people because they do or don’t have children? I am sure if I had children, I’d love my life as much. As I said, what else would you do?

A friend of mine told me that in Buddhist tradition, we have all been mothers at some point – in this life or a previous life. I like that.

So…all those jumbled feelings aside…Belated happy Mother’s Day to everyone. Those who have born children; those who have adopted children; those who have mothered other people’s children; those who have supported friends and family who have children; those who have tried so hard and couldn’t have children; those who have tried so hard only to lose the child/children; those who have simply chosen not to have children; and all those I’m not thinking of right now.

If you’ve read this all the way to the end, and are now completely confused by what I’ve said, or tried to say – welcome to life in Lise’s head. Trust me when I say, this is but a small sampling of what goes on in there!