Today, it is our second Mother’s Day.
If you think too hard, I know exactly what this day *should* look like for us as Mothers to a just-over-one-year-old.
I asked The Wife last night how she was feeling about it, and we both agreed that – oddly – we actually felt okay.
I think in part it’s because we’ve had so much happening this weekend – my birthday, a break away in London, the Tommys Awards – that Mothers Day hasn’t been the focus. Had it just been sitting there at the end of March, all on its own, maybe it would have come with that build up of dread all these significant days have had the past year or so.
Equally, if I think back to this time last year – we were in such a different place. We were just weeks from burying our son. They say the firsts are always the worst. To an extent, it’s probably true. We didn’t really know how to navigate such a day. We visisted Leo, we spent a bit of time with our own mums. We fully appreciated those who reached out to us. I still remember who did.
It’s not to say that we are better now, or we’ve moved on, because that doesn’t actually happen. It’s that since Leo died we have learnt to navigate days like today. We have practiced celebrating or allowing days to happen, without our son. Mothers Day, Easter, birthdays, family holidays, Halloween, Christmas, New Year… your son’s own first birthday. We are however still practicing – its never quite the same every time.
As a result we have developed a toolkit of coping mechanisms. And one of the tools is to have confidence in our right to do things our way. To discover what works for us. To practice elements of self care. To recognise what works and what doesn’t. And that’s particularly important when you don’t fall into the mould society wants you too. There are no Hallmark cards for this sort of Mothers Day.
That’s why I’m grateful for Tommy’s #WeAreAllMums campaign. When you feel a little – or a lot – isolated from the perceived norm of motherhood, a day like today can be so difficult. It takes me back to an early blog post when I was battling with my perception of Motherhood:
“In public, I walk around thinking that my motherhood is obvious. I’ve changed so surely the world can see that. But what does a new mother look like? It’s a mother with a baby. I see them out and about and I recognise them. And I do not look like that. For my baby is not with me. He is asleep. I cannot hold him. I cannot take him outside and show him off to the world. I buy things for his grave. Or his memory. The opposite image of motherhood is all around us, especially with Mothers Day looming.
So that’s what that odd feeling boils down to. Feeling like a fraud. A mother. But not quite how the world recognises it.”
Tommys campaign is saying outloud that You Are a Mother. And that’s so important. It’s so important to know that not only can you say it, but others know it too. Whatever your journey, however many children you may or may not have at home, whether your on the road still going through infertility or battling against loss, or visiting a grave, or mothering in some way – #WeAreAllMums.
Things such as the Tommys collaboration with Selfish Mother have been so vital in validating this for me and for others too. We can wear our jumpers with pride. Without shame. Without hiding or fear. But with pride.
I think the biggest shift for us now, is that we understand that just because Leo isn’t here – we are still his parents. And that’s an active thing. We parent him daily. By constantly having him in our minds. Finding ways to honour him. Remember him. Include him. Tell his story. Look after his memory. Survive for him. Make him proud of us. And for that, Mothers Day can still be a day for us. It can still be an outward acknowledgement of our mothering of our son. Ours sons.
Sometimes I get so frustrated that this is our reality. That to take a picture with our son, we write his name on a stone. A stone. What is that? Why does that make us happy in that moment? We are writing our sons name on a stone or on the beach to include him, instead of being able to have him with us. The ridiculousness of that often shines through. But there is little choice. It’s have no photos of us and him beyond the 19th January 2016 when we said goodbye, or have a stone with his name on, and see the beauty in its meaning. That’s the balancing act of grief and life after baby loss.
Today, we are going out for Afternoon Tea! This was booked as part of my birthday celebrations, and not quite acknowledging the date. Perhaps if we’d put two and two together, we’d have decided to avoid literally the most cliched Mother Day activity going. But why?
Sometimes in grief you just want to hide. And then other times, you say you know what, I deserve this just as much as anyone. I am not hiding. Grief will not win. And so we will go, and enjoy it. With both our sons. For both our sons. Because #WeAreAllMums.
You can see more about Tommys campaign on their social media.