Contradictory Living on Mother’s Day: No Child, a Quarantine and a Tightrope

Every year during this weekend, I do my best to write a blog post that describes what it’s like for me to be a mom, without a child, on the holiday that honors mothers. This year, the coronavirus-induced quarantine provides an extra layer of texture on top of that.

I won’t attempt to speak for every bereaved mom-but for me-having endured the mental, physical, emotional and social pain of child loss also introduced me to a new world of contradictory thinking and living that has never been more profound as it has been during this pandemic.

While I miss my son, I am so glad he is not here to go through this very confusing, anxious time when uncertainty looms and fear overshadows so much of what used to be “normal.” When the pandemic started it hurt my heart to scroll through social media and see young families spending so much time together. The weird thing is I’m not envious of those families since I know I don’t want *their* family–but at the same time I know I want what they have because I know I want *my own* family. (Contradictory thinking at its finest.)

A couple of weeks ago, as a “Mommy Moment” segment was beginning to come on the news I started breathing hard. I could feel the tears coming and I quickly changed the channel to stop what was sure to be a pretty long crying session.  I want my son here desperately. And on the other hand, I’ve heard stories from moms and dads about how hard life has been since they have been thrust into the world of not only being a parent, but being an educational instructor, a gym teacher, an arts and crafts connoisseur, a lunchroom attendant and so much more, all while trying to work from home and maintain a healthy and safe household as the world fights an unseen, serious and sometimes deadly virus. While I know I would be up for the challenge of taking all of this on—I must be honest with myself and admit that I can’t begin to imagine what daily adventures and stressors that lifestyle presents.  

There’s probably no better example of the dichotomy in which a bereaved mom lives in than on Mother’s Day. Most of us are already on an extremely thin tightrope of trying to balance “living life beyond child loss” and wanting nothing more than for our child or children who have passed away to be back in our arms. That tightrope comes with the pressure of continuing to walk with our heads held high while others say insensitive things that they don’t realize are insensitive. It also comes with wanting to maintain hope and faith while a constant barrage of thoughts about what the future holds and if more children are there—should we even want more—play in our minds. Walking on that tightrope brings with it the ever-so cautious practice of avoiding triggers that sometimes we don’t even realize exist until they are staring at us in our faces. When you throw in a day that was created to honor moms and some of us are left to question if that day even applies to us since the people who would be calling us “mom” aren’t here—it can make for a very confusing time.

This year on Mother’s Day, I want to remind bereaved moms that they are still mothers, as I always do.  I also want them to know that it’s completely fine to live in the paradoxical; contradictory; sometimes you don’t know if you’re coming or going; one minute you feel like you’re on top of the world and the next minute you feel like you’re underneath it; one minute you’re moving mountains and the next minute the mountain is moving you; one second  you’re praising God and in the same breath you’re cursing Him for taking your child and leaving you here to explore this new world. Mama, it is OK. Take a deep breath. Whew.

Know that you are not alone and that this pandemic, its quarantine and this season has brought challenges that none of us could’ve predicted.

Know that while walking on a tightrope is extremely hard, you have what it takes on the inside of you to continue putting one foot in front of the other and to keep on walking. Let your child’s spirit guide you and surround you with the love that only he or she can give you.

Finally, know that Mother’s Day even has a bit of contradictory nature of its own. Afterall, it’s a time to celebrate those who are fierce, yet loving, strong, yet sensitive, wise enough to discipline, yet ever so caring about their children. It sounds like Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate women just like you. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama….never forget that you are still a mom  <3.

-Danielle Nicole Lewis Jones © 2020