Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and nearly everyone knows about this important holiday that occurs on the second Sunday of each May. It the third largest holiday in the United States when it comes to sending cards. An estimated 50 percent of households send cards to their moms, grandmas and other special women in their lives, and it is celebrated in myriad ways.
Why do we celebrate mom so much? Our mothers are the first people we know and the ones who care for us. They keep us clean, fed and healthy until we can do so on our own. Mothers teach us how to navigate life. They wipe our tears and celebrate our smiles. They are our forever cheerleaders and our champions. They are always there for us, through ups and downs and thick and thin. There is no greater love than a mother’s love. So, it is fitting that we celebrate moms.
There is one group of mothers; however, who haven’t traditionally been celebrated and that is birth mothers – the biological mothers of adopted children. While everyone knows about Mother’s Day, hardly anyone knows about Birth Mother’s Day, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, a day set aside to acknowledge and support women who gave birth to children and then made an adoption plan to place them with a loving family. (There were many birth mothers though who didn't have a choice and others made the plans for them.) For decades, birth mothers didn’t talk about or acknowledge their roles in creating families, nor did others. The silence hurt.
I didn’t know about Birth Mother’s Day until recently when I was doing research for my book Those Three Words: A birth mother’s story of choice, chance & motherhood. I had my official book launch party on Birth Mother’s Day last year without even knowing it. While each birth mother’s experience is personal, the day is set aside for education and compassion for birth mothers.
I have never celebrated Birth Mother’s Day because I didn’t know about it, and in early years after I gave birth to my daughter, I did not celebrate traditional Mother’s Day either; rather, I dreaded it. I barely endured it.
There were years when I would loathe Mother’s Day, having to sit with my family and then later, my in-laws and listen and watch as everyone shared stories about being honored with breakfast in bed, bouquets of flowers, and handmade cards and gifts. With the exception of honoring my own mother, I sat in silence. I was quiet on the outside but crying loudly on the inside.
There were no gifts for me, and I didn’t expect any. What I wanted, though, wanted so badly, was to stand up and shout out – “I am a mother, too. I am a mother of a beautiful daughter and she has a wonderful family. I love her. I love her with every fiber of my being, and hopefully, someday, we will all know her.”
But I didn’t say that or say anything about being a birth mother. Instead, I repeatedly swallowed the sadness and loneliness that kept crawling its way up through my soul. I stayed positive, or tried to, by envisioning how my daughter and her mother and family were celebrating and by focusing on my own amazing mother.
As the years went by, Mother’s Day got easier. It certainly got easier when I had my second child and third child and my role as a mother was recognized. I celebrated with my sons in the traditional ways and kept my daughter close in my mind and heart.
Mother’s Day became a true and full celebration after I reconnected with my daughter and began telling the world about her and her family -- finally revealing to the world that I was a birth mother.
These days Mother’s Day is extra special because my daughter is now herself a mother, and I am a grandmother to two adorable grandchildren. We will all celebrate Mother’s Day.
This year, I will also celebrate Birth Mother’s Day for the first time in full awareness, recognition and honor of all the birth moms out there who for so many years were faceless and nameless as mothers. Women who hid in shame because of a monumental life event that was not bad or dishonorable, but rather was an act that was so brave, so loving and so selfless -- an act that made another family complete.
Blessings and love to all birth mothers. May you have peace and happiness -- every day.
Please join me in celebrating Birth Mother’s Day on May 11 at 10 a.m. at the Edina Art Center Author’s Studio. I’ll be reading from and discussing my book Those Three Words: A birth mother’s story of choice, chance motherhood. www.authorcbauer.com