Mother’s and Father’s Days are a special kind of conflicting hell for those dealing with infertility. Every store clerk, passerby and well intention stranger offers up their Happy Mother’s Day greeting and the world expects you to answer with a forced smile when you really want to either rip their tongues out or cry. I would never expect the world to stop because of my situation, however I also would appreciate it not seek me out.
Most years I have an idea of how I will react to these days tend plan the weekend accordingly. Years ago I could get through the weekend effortlessly. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s/Father’s Day with optimism. I could purchase heartfelt gifts for my parents and sign the cards myself. I could acknowledged their personal sacrifices and contributions that I will never be able to pay them back for and that. Good or bad, they made me the person I am today and those days I was able to show my appreciation. Other years, particularly those following a miscarriage, I wanted nothing more than to disappear for the weekend.
Gifts for my parents became impersonal and purchased online so as to avoid facing my own feelings of guilt for being unable to make them grandparents, or my spouse a father and the overwhelming sadness of not being able to carry a child.
Two weeks prior, my husband had informed me that both his sister and brother were expecting. I was in Arizona completing my Warrant Officer Basic Course. My husband remained in NC where we were stationed, so I had received the news of the pregnancies via phone. This was our fifth year trying to conceive and, I knew this was a hole-up-in-your-room kind of Mother’s Day. In preparation for such a weekend, I had taken all of the standard precautions. Mother’s Day flowers purchased and sent the week prior. I had purchased all my snacks and food for the weekend. I made a list of movies to watch on Netflix. I deleted social media apps from my phone so I would not be tempted to scroll only to view all of the Happy Mother’s Day photos of gifts and children. I blocked the ability to be tagged in social media posts to “all the non-mothers” and I had strategically planned my weekend to avoid interaction with well-meaning Happy Mother’s Day greetings by eliminating all non-emergency reasons to leave my hotel room... Or so I thought.
Step one of my day involved sleeping in until an unacceptable hour for any self-respecting adult to still be in bed. I rationalized step one with the simple fact that this weekend was about self-loathing. Unfortunately for me this plan soon went off the rails by 0800.
For those not aware of military life the Army has a program referred to as the FRG Program (Family Readiness Program). These groups are generally run by the spouse of the commander or 1SG and are used as a way of uniting and supporting the families within the units. The program is very well intended and the spouse in charge often wants to make it the best and most personal FRG around. Part of this is due to a general love of the program or support for their spouse. Part of the desire may be due to the fact that as women age we seem to stop completing by attracting people at the bar or wearing the best clothing and replace the competition with who can create the most Pinterest worthy event, group or meeting. Unfortunately sometimes these helpful spouses miss the mark…..by a lot.
My husband’s unit had recently come under a new company commander and his well-meaning wife opted for a more personalized approach to the FRG. She tended to use text messages instead of email to communicate. As a service member myself, I fully support the program but nevertheless, still prefer email to communicate as they are easier to delete or at least view at my leisure. When dealing with email one also does not have to deal with the possibility of waking up a spouse that works shifts or just had a baby, or that is in a different time zone. Most of her communications were innocent enough; requests for various forms of information, putting out information on the next unit activity, etc. The communications were usually sent out individually, but that was not the case, not today.
At 0800 I was awoken by the buzzing of my phone. I tend to leave my phone on for emergency purposes since a Red Cross message or urgent message of some kind usually come from a number you don’t recognize. I simply ignored the buzzing on this morning because I was busy with self-loathing and important or bad news could wait.
A minute went by and the phone continued to sporadically buzz…a fucking group text. I grabbed my phone prepared to kill whichever classmate had decided to start a group text at 0800 on a Saturday to no doubt discuss some hike or nonsense trip I was not interested in. I swiped my finger across my phone and my heart sank. All my preparations and there it still was, a group text from the FRG leader in NC wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and inviting them on an impromptu Mother’s Day outing with their children. The initial text was followed with about six response Happy Mother’s Day texts. My heart sank into my stomach. All of my preparations and now this shit.
I scrolled through the settings frantically trying to simply remove myself from the group message from hell. Due to a particularly shitty (technologically advanced setting?), I was unable to remove myself. Or maybe just too stupid to figure it out. Either way I was trapped. Everyone that has ever been a part of an unwanted group text can tell you that the unwelcome buzzing seems to never stop. Deleting the text wouldn’t matter because it simply starts again with the next response. All of that planning and preparation for nothing! I could feel the warmth and blurred vision fill my eyes and tried to stop the tears from swelling up. By this point most people and spouses at my and my husband’s unit knew we had been trying, but she was new.
I ran through the options on how to deal with this in my head. I could turn my phone off and deal with the stream of texts when I turned the phone back on. I could put the phone on silent but the messages would still be there when I turned to look at my phone later in the day and the urge to look takes over.
If I am being honest, part of me wanted to hurt these women. Like the Grinch that Stole Christmas, part of me wanted to take Mother’s Day from them. Part of me wanted them to feel as bad as I was feeling in that moment, to feel the guilt, sadness, pain and anger I felt and had felt in some part for the past few years. After all, I had planned to let everyone enjoy their day by removing myself from the weekend altogether, but they found me, not the other way around. All of these thoughts and feelings were felt in an instant. I opted to ask to be removed from the group.
My text simply read: “For some reason I am unable to remove myself from this group text. Can the owner of the group please remove me?”
A few seconds of silence passed and I thought great, that worked. I returned to my bed in a futile attempt to return to sleep.
Buzz, Buzz, BUZZ….fuck.
I looked at my phone. Three more messages appeared.
Can’t wait to see you ladies today.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day!! Hubby made breakfast.
Happy Mother’s Day, can’t make it.
Ok, now I was a bit too pissed at this point to opt for the less nuclear options mentioned. I fired off another text.
“While I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day and hope that you enjoy your weekend, please understand that there are those of us unable to become mothers and this day is particularly difficult. Once again I ask the owner of the group text remove me from the group as for some reason I am unable to do it myself.”
BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!!
Hope everyone has a great Mother’s Day!
Happy Mother’s Day
These Mother F!@#ers. At this point it was hard for me to think that some of these late responses weren’t women just TRYING to piss me off. Annoyed, frustrated and angry I called my husband. He was enjoying a 3 day rock concert but I needed to vent. I let him know what was happening. Needless to say I was pretty upset by this point. I told him to have me from all future communications that involved the FRG.
By this point I was wide awake. No chance of going back to sleep now. In addition to being upset myself, I felt as though I had dampened my husband’s weekend as well. I was mad at these women for a group text, for being able to enjoy their weekend, for being able to have children. I was mad at myself for being upset with them, for being unable to carry a child. I was mad at infertility, at doctors that didn’t know what was wrong with me, people that greet me with Happy Mother’s Day and with the world.
So what else could I do now that my weekend was ruined? I got up and took a shower, my normal refuge for times I felt over emotional. I got dressed and abandoned my previous plans for the day. I decided to get a mani/pedi and just embrace the shit show my day had become. Of course on Mother’s Day the place would be packed with mothers but I was numb at this point.
Happy Mother F!@#ers Day!!