Childless on Mother’s Day

That Art Deco picture frame which you kept on your desk stayed vacant for years; it never held those chubby cheeks you’d hoped it would.

The matching porcelain boxes you picked up in Bruges, Belgium remain unused to this day: No first curl in one. No first tooth in the other.

The stock options that transformed your life in a single afternoon, the photographs of yourself in some marketplace in Istanbul will not alleviate that perennial ache.

You’re an intelligent woman. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand why your phone won’t ring much today. There won’t be flowers. The mailman did not bring greeting cards with filigree borders and corny poems written in barely legible curlicues.

Yes, of course, you are happy for all the moms on your contact list. They deserve to be honored today. If only they knew how many times you tried and tried and cried and prayed and tried and cried some more! If only they knew how many visits you made to how many fertility clinics in how many states. . .

You are not the woman they think they know at all. Yes, you are all fun and play and blueberry martinis and smart phones and business class all the way, but there is a secret side of you they’ll probably never meet.

You were always first to arrive and last to leave the office. You never missed a meeting. You were exemplary, dedicated, and so loyal that you received that coveted antique Tiffany Swiss clock—the one whose hands mocked and threatened you with its constant ticking. Ticking. Ticking.

Let it be known—for the record—that you have held umpteenth newborns in your own arms. Oh, yes, you have. And how many times did you stand before packed pews, vowing to assume all responsibility should the unfortunate thing happen?

How often have you driven past that billboard with the words Making Babies Does Not Make a Man a Dad? Well, giving birth does not make a woman a mommy either. You know this. You’ve got the caseload to prove it.

Here you are again: Childless on Mother’s Day. Can’t wait for the day to end. And to think you love so many as if they were your own! Godchildren, nieces, nephews, random faces on the subway or at the airport: You would give your very life to save any of them. That’s just who you are. Your maternal instincts have always been keen. It’s just that your baby never came.

So, to all the women still hoping, still trying, still praying for that miracle; to all the dads playing both roles because mommy is at work or serving time in the state penitentiary; to all the ladies who are mommies in fact though not in deed. Happy Mother’s Day!

To all military moms fighting gnashed tooth and broken nail to make this  world a safer place, Happy Mother’s Day to you!

To that unsuspecting Manman in Jeremie who sent her child to live with Ma Tante so and so, hoping that the child would receive a decent noonday meal with a little education on the side, Happy Mother’s Day to you!

To that woman who put up her child for adoption for too many reasons than she could ever list: Happy Mother’s Day to you!

To the supposedly childless ones who provide support to loved-starved children in their classrooms day after day after day: Happy Mother’s Day to you!

To my recently-deceased Grandmother, Felicie, who loved me more than anyone else dared: Mother’s Day is everyday with you. Even now. Especially now.

And to Manman Ayiti: Happy Mother’s Day to you today and on the Last Sunday in May.

Honor and Respect. Always.