It is just another day on the calendar. Except it is not. For some, it provides a twist of the knife.
Mother’s Day: a day to celebrate motherhood, and mothers. Some are without their mothers. Some mothers are missing a child, or children.
Others, like me, are mothers with empty arms. Mothers who never have celebrated the day with their babies.
This is for all mothers who have lost children. But it is especially for we empty-armed mummies. It is not saying either is any better, or any worse. It is different. It is what I know about.
It is my life.
Hugo died just two days before last year’s Mother’s Day. In the week leading up to it, I was so hopeful of Hugo getting stronger, of his lungs recovering, of us taking him home. I was so looking forward to our first Mother’s Day.
Instead, I was back at home. Hugo was left alone at the hospital in London. I hated, hated, hated leaving the hospital, returning home without him. The day was spent quietly at home, avoiding TV and social media. Avoiding reminders of how others have what we so dearly wanted back. Too raw, too painful.
With Hugo being born 16 weeks premature, I should still have been pregnant, looking forward to today being my first-ever Mother’s Day.
Instead, today I scrolled quickly through the social media streams full of images of cards and gifts made by little ones for their mummies. Those mummies full of pride, whatever their children have done for them. The handmade cards and gifts are always especially lovely, symbolic of a special bond between mother and child.
On Mother’s Day, children of all ages thank their mothers for all they have done for them. Mothers of living children ask for a ‘day off’, so to speak – breakfast in bed, perhaps, be taken out for lunch maybe, or even the simple pleasure of being able to wee in peace.
There is no ‘day off’ for this empty-armed mother.
Today has reminded me that no matter how many ‘better’ days I may have, I am still a bereaved mother. That while I may feel I am better able to live in tandem with my grief, there will always be days when grief jumps right back on my shoulders to drag me down, claws and all. That while I may try to look forward to what may be next, I will always have a view to the past, and what should have been. That while I try to do things to make my life feel fulfilled, there will always be a gap, a hole. That hole is Hugo-shaped.
Today I have had a cry. I have had a sad day, the worst for a couple of weeks. It is to be expected.
I hope other empty-armed mummies are as fortunate as me, with loving friends who will always remember Hugo, and get in touch on significant days. Being wished a Happy Mother’s Day really does mean the world. Knowing that I shall always be recognised as a mother is a comfort.
Sending love to anyone who is struggling today, for whatever reason.