Courtney's Rules: How one birth mom gets through Mother's Day

May has arrived and with it comes a slight feeling of discomfort.  A tiny rock has settled deep within my belly, and it will grow in size as the days slowly move towards a particular holiday.

You see, when the month of flowers arrives, a barrage of commercials and songs and questions come flying, “what are you doing for Mother’s Day?”.  This is a difficult time for me in more than one way. 

As a birth mom, a woman that placed her child for adoption, when I am asked if I have children, I typically respond, “yes and no."  Yes, because I’ve given birth to a child, but no, because I’m not raising him.


Do I consider myself a mother?  It took awhile to come to the answer, but yes, I am a mother.  I carried and birthed a child, and then made the most difficult parenting decision that I could - to place my child in the arms of another to raise as their own.

Does society consider me a mother?  As a birth mom that has not had any other children, no, I don’t think they do.

It’s an isolated place to be where not only do I not have a mother to celebrate with, but I also am not typically celebrated on this day.  The first few years after my son was born were extremely difficult.  I would isolate myself, look at photos of my son, and cry.  I remember one year, I believe my son was a teenager at this point, and I received a Mother’s Day card from a friend.  A small piece of card stock that holds the imprint of the words “Happy Mother’s Day” literally brought me to my knees.  A few years later, I received a bouquet of flowers from someone with a note that read, “you are not forgotten on this day” and I wept.

Over the years, I’ve created a few “rules” to help get me through such an emotional time:

  • If a company sends an email asking if I want to opt out of their Mother’s Day emails, I reply yes.  This helps immensely in lowering the number of emails that pop up over the Mother’s Day weekend.

  • When someone asks what I’m doing to celebrate (either myself or my mother), I just say that plans are still being decided or I switch it back and inquire about their plans.

  • If I choose to celebrate a friend that is a mother, I do so after a thorough check in with myself that I’m in a mental space to be able to do so.  The gesture must be fully about celebrating her.  If there is any twinge of envy or “I wish someone would do this for me”, then I don’t do it.  Because of this one rule, I have had some amazing experiences with my friends – the most memorable being a full tea service with scones and clotted cream!

  • I take extra care with myself during the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day - extra grace, extra patience, extra self care.

For anyone out there that struggles during this time, know that your emotions are valid.  Know that you are worthy, no matter the circumstances that brought you to this space.  Know that you are loved.

Courtney shared her adoption story with us.  Read it here.