Growing up I loved Mother’s Day. I was yet to have a revelation of what It took to receive the ‘badge of honour’, and why every year in the Spring an entire weekend was dedicated to showering Mother figures with gifts and gestures to show our appreciation.
I have distinct memories of the importance placed on this day during primary school. Each year one of our art activities were dedicated to creating imaginative gifts made of colourful crepe and sugar paper.
One year we were tasked with making tulips out of recycled egg boxes. Recreating it refuelled my most treasured memories of our family trip to to Amsterdam a year before when we visited the magical tulip gardens.
It was also the time puberty struck . I had noticed one day as I got dressed that the wiry hair under my armpits couldn’t be hidden .
I was yet to realise what would follow : the emergence of my child-bearing hips , and the gradual swelling of my breasts until it had its own ‘cup size’. All of these ‘developmental milestones' would someday stand as evidence that I had earned my flowers even though later on I learned it never guaranteed biological motherhood.
The weekend we were to take our artwork home I remember walking around the display corner.
The classroom was enshrined with an array of rainbow coloured card, and alongside it what looked like a tropical garden of hybrid origami flowers.
My competitive streak triggered a curiosity to see what my classmates had created .
“Is that yours ?” , I asked my friend *Nigel
It’s not as if I didn’t already know who his mum was. Every morning during the school run, Nigel’s mother, a plus sized woman, with 80’s style Jheri curls would wave to her son as she dropped him off at the school junction. The lollipop man would then usher a crowd of children to the other end of the crossing and make our way to school.
She would then continue her journey, waddling along as if she was trying to walk in synch her to a slow reggae song , in her nursing uniform whilst balancing her overladen leather handbag over her shoulders.
Nigel was clearly proud , as he paraded his depiction of her face on the Mother’s Day card using all the best possible combinations of brown and black paint to put on display his pride and joy.
“What does your mum look like ?” He asked inquisitively.
My mum wasn’t the type to make it to assemblies or volunteer for school trips. At times I questioned why this was, until maturity helped me to understand that she was working two jobs for me and my three other sisters.
‘You’ll thank me later . I want you to enjoy”
“You also will learn the importance of hard work when you have children of your own someday”
She would say, in her diluted Ghanaian accent
I can’t remember how the conversation ended with Nigel, but one thing I do know is initially felt that he was I questioning my mum’s commitment. Of course he didn’t mean to ask out of spite but mere comparison and childly innocence.
Either way, I knew my mum had earned her reward . She would do anything for us to make us happy in life , and even if it didn’t look that way to others. That didn’t matter ....
Fast forward to when my husband and I faced our fertility challenges , I struggled with Mothers day.
I regret to say that attending church didn’t make it any easier. Every year without fail on what we intentionally termed ‘Mothering Sunday’ we would honour all women in the church and particularly those with children. At then end of service they would be presented with a gift and some form of flowers.
This time round it was a journal and a delicate lilac petaled corsage. As I watched women march up to collect their prized possession rewards, I could almost feel the weight of desperation and sadness within me.
I felt insecure about what other women may have been thinking when the church pews would become empty as the mothers proudly marched up the creaky floorboards like soldiers, and I remained in the ‘bottom ranks’. I wondered whether people were thinking if I actually did want a child, or realised my inability to conceive.
What hurt the most was I has just completed a failed IUI cycle, and I couldn’t wait for service to end so I could bury my head in my pillow to release the insurmountable grief I felt that day.
Later that afternoon I received a text from a good friend ‘at church who was aware of our journey and fertility challenges.
“Saved a journal, and a corsage for you”
“Really ?!!” I replied, “How did u manage to grab a spare ?”
I was aware that these gifts were precious, and so were the women’s ministry who made it clear that they were not be looked upon as a church freebie.
“It’s not a spare, you deserve the flowers [flower emoji]”
In other words, my thoughtful friend was reminding me that I too was worthy of being recognised that day.
On ‘Mothers day’, I have experienced that feeling of unworthiness, emptiness and feeling left out. That changed when I realised that even though I was yet to become a mother, I had done most things that every mother had even whilst I had no clue if I would ever have any of my own. There were also many other children in my life that I had cared for and extended my love to.
Just like those flowers I was deserving of, I had faith the one day and some day that hope would blossom...
"And I pray that just like a flower, you will get what you blossom for" ~ Juansen Dizon
* [Name changed].