Parts of this post have been in draft form and swirling around in my brain for months, literally. Sarcastic and quippy wouldn’t cut it. The right jumping off point lest it sound too rant-y or judgmental slipped through my fingers over and over.
And then this: I recently heard about another devastating late-term loss. And it became so clear.
Life, survival, is a blessing, not a guarantee. Motherhood is a privilege.
And besides all the snarky, quippy reasons I absolutely, positively loathe the whole concept of “push presents” this is at the core. The privilege of delivering a live baby? That is the gift, no?
Let me break down my argument a bit. First off, on a semantic level I find the term itself extremely tacky, not to mention offensive. Perhaps I am being contrary me again, but from my perspective, it is exclusionary and implies that only women who have endured childbirth (you know, that process women have gone through since the dawn of humanity, usually without the benefit of pearls or diamonds?) warrant recognition or have sacrificed.
After all, there’s no “You-survived-the-emotional-heart-choke-known as adoption” present, right? Or “your-gestational-carrier-was-successful-in-delivering your child” luxe item?
And as for the mothers who must deliver babies far too soon, or babies who were on time but not okay, I truly have no words because my heart does choke and my stomach coils up involuntarily.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s the attitude of expectation that is repugnant to me, not the presents themselves. This isn’t an indictment of people who get gifts for having babies. If someone’s partner or spouse wants to commemorate the miracle of birth with a gift, that’s great—and it’s also none of my business, or my place to judge.
No, it’s when it goes too far, it’s about the build-up around it, the speculation and prolonged discussion over the merits of some gifts over others, and the belief that a woman is “owed” something elaborate for having a baby that can sometimes occur that is problematic.
Again: the ability to conceive a baby, carry a baby past viability and into a safer range, and have both mother and child survive the birth process, that is a gift. And the ability to come home with a baby or child, regardless of what process made that happen, the ability to be a parent and help another human being develop into his or her own person? That is a gift.
And really? We must commercialize our lives so much that even birth has its own subset of recommended gifts? Not surprisingly, I feel much the same way about elaborate Mother’s Day gifts but I am sick of my own soapbox so I will leave you with some comments on Mother’s Day from the infertility trenches. Sprogblogger writes,
“This year, I’m feeling overwhelmed with appreciation – for my own mother and my grandmothers and all of the women who have ‘mothered’ me in one sense or another throughout the years. But do I feel like someone should be appreciating me, and the work I do? Not so much – because I feel like I’m the one who’s been given the gift of being allowed to mother, so wanting a pat on the back for essentially eating a cookie someone handed me just feels like the grossest kind of greediness –the cookie is reward enough, and thank you!”