Somewhere in your town this week, women of all ethnicities, sizes, ages and circumstance walked nervously into a waiting room. Some of them have been there before. Many times before. The receptionist knows their names. For others, this is their first visit. All of them share a single desire: to conceive and carry a child to term. To be a mom. These women are in your life, but you probably don’t know their struggle. Few talk about it, really. It’s a lonely, pain-filled, heart-breaking journey. This dream they have dreamed their whole lives, for some reason it eludes them. For many of them, the reason remains unexplained. There is no science to make sense of it. For others, a diagnosis explains their issue, but explanations don’t make it hurt any less.
In the waiting room, the women don’t really interact. Eyes divert away. The reality that landed each woman there is just too intense, too real. The truth lies far too deep for small talk. You can’t see it, but that woman in the corner has a belly covered in bruises from the hormone shots she gives herself every night. The slim woman by the door, she’s on her fourth cycle of pills and insemination, and the money she saved for her treatments is almost gone. If it doesn’t work this time, she’s out of options. The woman who just walked in finally conceived on her last IVF cycle, but she lost the baby at 12 weeks. Full of hurt and grief and the tiniest sliver of hope, she’s come to try again. The woman checking out at the desk just got a positive pregnancy blood test. She is elated and shocked, and feels a little guilty as she passes by the other women. She has what they want. And she has been in their shoes. She keeps a straight face.
I was one of these women. All of these women dread Mother’s Day.
This weekend, women everywhere are hurting. Not just infertile women. Women who have lost their moms. Women who have lost children. Women who have miscarried and no one even knows. Women who have made the valid choice not to have children, but everyone tries to make them feel like crap about it because they don’t understand. Women who have difficult relationships with their moms. Women who are dying of cancer and this will be their last Mother’s Day with their kids. Women who desire to be married and have a family but have not yet found a partner. Women who are moms but feel like they are not good enough because of our insane culture of mommy guilt. WOMEN EVERYWHERE ARE HURTING.
Reach out. Pay attention. Choose compassion. Be the hands and feet and eyes and mouths of love this weekend. Through simple kindness, you can make a difference.