There was a stretch of a few years when Mother’s Day was complete torture for me.

The first was 2003 when I was so ready to have children and Andy just wasn’t quite there yet. That year I sat in church feeling so unlucky that I had married someone who just wasn’t “on board” with the idea of having a family. I felt left behind. I envied all the moms I saw who had honeymoon babies or moms who had been married as long as Andy and I and were already on baby number two. It seemed like the perfect life.

In 2004, I had just turned thirty and we had just suffered a miscarriage. I felt defective. Devastated. I kept thinking about how many weeks pregnant I was “supposed” to be. I couldn’t stop crying. Church was the hardest because I knew I was supposed to be thankful in that space, but I was mostly consumed by jealousy and depression.

By 2005 my agony had subsided to a dull ache. We were considering adoption and I was too busy with my newly opened gift shop to dwell too much on my misery. It was still hard, but that year I went to church with a friend out in the suburbs and my anonymity was a comfort. I think the tears I shed went largely unnoticed during the service and I quickly excused myself afterwards to clean up in bathroom.

And then in 2006, voila! I was the proud mother to a newly adopted Simon, with one on the way. The baby bomb had catapulted me from infertile and angry to one of those moms I had always envied, brimming with babies and happily describing the exhaustion of a newborn and a pregnancy. All tears shed at church that year were tears of joy, shock and relief. I was practically delirious.

And now 2007. Mom to two beautiful children, both so special and so cherished. It’s hard looking back to remember and really feel the feelings I experienced in years past. I’m definitely not as miserable as I was in the days B.B. (that’s Before Baby-Palooza). But I’m not exactly giddy with joy either. I’m deeply grateful to have been given the gift of children, to have been able to carry a pregnancy, to have experienced labor and birth. I wish Ramona was healthy, I wish we could have more “normal” family time, I wish things weren’t so scary. We’re not going to church this year (germs,etc.), so bawling my eyes out of my head is thankfully not a concern this time around.

It always sounded hollow to me when the pastor, in an attempt to be inclusive, would say something about how Mother’s Day is also a day for women who have the role of mother in some non-traditional way or who are not able to have children. I was like, “Yeah right, thanks. That’s just a polite way of asking us infertile women to try and get through the service without too much weeping and wailing.” But now I’m not so sure. This might be another opportunity to relax my cynicism.

I think that on Mother’s Day it’s important to honor our mothers. It’s important for mothers to be celebrated and thanked and given bonbons. But I also feel it is important for those of us who have been blessed by motherhood to acknowledge what an unmerited gift it is. What an honor. And that means acknowledging those who have not yet become or will never be mothers, especially those in our lives who deeply desire it. And to acknowledge the women in the margins. Women who married too late to have children, have had abortions, have placed their children for adoption or lost a child to illness or accident.

God knows our hearts. He knows that for some this is a day of hugs from little arms, brunches and single roses. And He knows that for some this is a day of isolation, grief and disappointment. I think this year I am somewhere in he middle. I will definitely get the hugs, so I’m not sweating the rose or the brunch. I’m a little isolated and definitely grieving to some extent, but I am not disappointed by where life has led. I am forever changed by Ramona’s illness. But if an accounting were made of all the joys and griefs this past year has brought, I’m still way in the plus column.

My prayer today is a prayer of thanks. For my mom and Andy’s. For all the small joys of daily life that Simon and Ramona bring. For the patience motherhood has taught me. I also pray that Simon and Ramona will someday be blessed by parenthood if that is their desire. Thanks God also for the things I so often take for granted: For a partner in life. For a place to call home. For plenty to eat and plenty to do.

Happy Mother’s Day, Jane.