It may seem odd to have a column about Mother’s Day following the observance, but due to the timing of when my column appears in the paper such it is. Just because Mother’s Day has passed, I still think it’s more than appropriate to discuss the holiday. This column is not just about mothers and the Sunday holiday that it seeks to honor, but also acknowledges a likely lesser-known holiday, International Bereaved Mother’s Day, which proceeds Mother’s Day by a week. The day honors mothers who have suffered the loss of a child or have not been able to have a child because of infertility.
Motherhood is one tricky business. It is at once imbued with a form of love that goes beyond words, awe for the power of creation, and respect for the endurance of a body, a heart, and mind that can raise children. It is also wrapped up in painful feelings, or experiences that can be traumatic, unhealthy, or daunting. Some women wish to be mothers who cannot. Some women may have become mothers when they didn’t wish to, or had the result forced upon them. Other women have lost their children: either before they were born or at some point during their child’s life. And there are many women who do not want to be mothers, and remain as such. I know all of these different types of women: one is a close relative who bravely tries to make it through each day, haunted by the loss of a son who died at a young age. More than one friend has suffered a miscarriage, and this type of loss can be deeply personal and often isolating. Other women I know have bravely confronted infertility, sometimes with no result and have born a quiet pain and acceptance that makes days like Mother’s Day a stinging reminder of what was hoped for and never achieved.
These women have certainly had their ugly days, nights of rage and the unanswered questions about death, loss, and a body that doesn’t fulfill what feels like a biological given. Yet with outstretched arms, they also amaze me with their capacity to at once hold space for the journey of motherhood, yet also carry the weight that makes the journey itself painful, daunting, and often fraught with shame. While there may be times of weakness, these arms never falter either.
Just like there are different families, and different children, there are many different mothers. This also includes the women who’ve been denied motherhood or whose family story includes bereavement. I would like to say to all of these types of women: your suffering, your joy, and the whole of you are all to be honored, revered and respected. On a holiday known for its brunch and gifts there are also days when no one truly knows the weight of the journey you’ve carried.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.