To my unhappily single friends on Valentine’s Day (happily single friends, you won’t need this one!):
I love you. I wish I could look you in the eyes and tell you, without a doubt, that someday the void you feel today will be filled in exactly the way you want it to be. That if you just stop looking for a partner, one will find you. Bliss will be forever yours. I know we both wish the future was as predictable and happy-ending filled as a movie.
I think perhaps this May, on Mother’s Day, I will feel the same way you do today. Last Mother’s Day I was blissfully looking forward to becoming a mother; a month later I lost that pregnancy. There were those who looked me in the eye shortly after and told me that I would someday become a mom; that they themselves carried a healthy child after they had a miscarriage. It came from the most generous, loving place in their heart. And it sounded so familiar, so much like what I’d heard from coupled friends when I was single.
I’ve come to realize that uncertainty is one of the hardest, cruelest parts of life. I’m sorry I can’t offer you the reassurance you deserve. I’m sorry that life isn’t all roses and chocolates and I know those aren’t even what you want right now. You know as well as I do that if that is what you longed for, you’d buy them for yourself. (And you’d buy them tomorrow, when they go on clearance!)
My husband gave me a Valentine’s Day gift once, the first year we dated. A pair of “real nice technical ski gloves.” You know how little kids are with gloves? I know, I teach skiing to three year-olds. They lose them all the time. Let’s just say I’m like a little kid when it comes to gloves and I haven’t gotten a Valentine’s Day present since.
I’m totally okay with that. And I’m trying to be okay with the fact that I’m not a mom right now. In the months that have passed since last spring, I’ve sat in the ER with a terrified seven-year-old at ten o’clock at night; I’ve let a tired, tearful, ski boot wearing three-year-old plop on my lap for a story; I’ve held my weeks-old niece who doesn’t know she should’ve had a cousin born the same week.
The classic definition of both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day is to celebrate the love found in this very specific relationship between either, depending on the holiday, romantic partners or mother and child. And then of course, we must buy stuff to symbolize that love.
Rather than guarantee that either of us will end up celebrating these holidays as they are intended to be celebrated, I’m going to offer this…
Perhaps you and I are just wiser than those who try to contain their love to one relationship or another according to the holiday schedule.
I’m going to offer love. There is enough to go around — don’t let anyone else tell you there’s not. You are loved by and love many. Perhaps you and I are just wiser than those who try to contain their love to one relationship or another according to the holiday schedule. Perhaps that’s why I mentioned some of the children that I’ve “mothered” without myself being a mother. I know there are many who’ve received your love without being your lover. I consider myself one of them.
I absolutely, positively, without a doubt a hope that someday the void you feel today will be filled in exactly the way you want it to be. But I can’t and won’t insist that will happen. For now, I will tell you I hear you and I’m sorry about that void. Let me know what you need*.
(*Unless it’s a pair of gloves and you’re anything like me.)
A version of this post was originally published on the author’s blog at sixW2s.