GRIEF AS BIG AS A MOTHER
yes, another essay about motherhood
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Content notes: Mother’s Day, abortion
I was scrolling through Mother’s Day cards to send to my mother with a virtual card sending service. You pick a design for the front, type out a message, and then choose a font that mimics handwriting. It feels perfectly impersonal. As I was scrolling, I saw card designs speaking of love and admiration.
“Home is where mom is” “Best Mom + Best Friend" “Every day I feel closer to you.”
This last week, we tuned into another episode of this dystopian show we call America. I never know how to talk about abortion because it’s only ever been the option I considered if I got pregnant. I’ve never had any desire to be a mother. I always knew that if something accidental happened, that would be my first decision. This is a privileged position to be in, I know. I don’t talk about this often because many may call me a monster. But if you rearrange and add a few letters, monster is awfully close to mother.
I’ve considered doing it my own way. I’ve thought, maybe I could have a child, bring it into a home I knew I could take care of it in, and be the mother I never had. But the truth is, I am a mother. I’m a mother to myself. I step into positions care for those I love. I value nourishment and nuture my partner and friends. Sure, I’ve practiced the art of care enough– I could figure out how to do it for someone who comes out of me, but I truly have no desire to. The family I have is family enough and then some.
It’s hard to separate the Supreme Court news from thoughts about pleasure. I’ve taken birth control before and my body rejected it. I’m uninterested in putting my body through more medical trauma, but my relationship with pleasure suffers because of it. Even if I did want to try to become a mother, the journey to get there includes trips to the gynecologist and I’d finally have to go to pelvic floor therapy so I could have pain-free sex. Another monster.
I finally find a Mother’s Day card that feels just plain enough to send. It’s black and white, and has an illustration of a monstera on it with black text that reads, “Happy Mother’s Day.” When I visited my parents’ apartment a few weeks ago, they had a table of plants on a table next to a window, but the window was covered with a tie-dyed tapestry. My mom says, “Plants never stay alive long in here.” I tell her maybe if she took down the tapestry and let some light in, some of them would survive. The advice sounds familiar.
I think of all the mothers in my life. I admire my mother-in-law who has a house full of sunlight and thriving houseplants. I see mothers on Instagram who eat ice cream cones and play at parks with their kids. I see fathers and sisters and brothers who are also mothers. I feel solidarity with those who are their own mothers.
There’s nothing wrong with being a mother or wanting to be a mother and, in fact, it’s probably one of the more complicated things to be. When I told my therapist about how I’m unsure how to heal my relationship with my body, to pleasure, or how to heal my relationship to my mother, we talk about EMDR. She says that maybe if I can learn to feel safe enough in my body and reprocess some of what I’ve gone through, my relationship with these things can be redefined. I welcome the thought. Maybe I could be a mother. Or finally, have a mother.
I mention the Supreme Court news because the number of things this brings up for people with uteruses is endless. Sex, trauma, pleasure, motherhood, femininity, gender, bodies– it’s endless. I don’t think that’s part of the conversation enough. It’s not just about our bodily autonomy being threatened, it’s different wounds being reopened or picked at by conservatives with knives as fingers and who have no empathy. It feels personal because it is.
Mother’s Day feels heavy every year, but particularly this year. There is no resolution here other than to practice the tenderness that I taught myself. If this week, or this weekend, feels heavy for you. I see you. I am there with you and I have mental health resources linked below if you need to access care or support.
1:1 Peer Support (No-Cost)
Community-Based Peer Support (No-Cost)
A Peer Support Helpline (No-Cost)
Abortion Funds in Every State to donate to
If you need someone to help arrange, travel to, and fund an abortion, go to this website
I’m learning about harm reduction from this Instagram page
Submit your questions for this month’s mini-podcast here.
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