I know a woman. When I think of her, the first word that comes to mind is Mother. No, she doesn’t have a child. And still. Mother.
Before she opens her eyes in the morning, her first thought is of him. Her dream baby. She saw him in her sleep again last night. He was so vivid, his small fist grasping her finger, his big eyes locked on hers, his face so eerily familiar. She even smelled him in her dream. Could that be a sign? In bed, she studies her body. Is it warmer? Is it cramping? Is her breast tender? She goes to the bathroom. She checks, as always, for signs from her womb. Is it ready? Is it receptive? Or is it bleeding out another month of hope? Another cycle of disappointment. Mother.

I know a woman. It’s barely light out, but she is already at the doctor’s office. She has sat in this waiting room dozens of times. She has read all the magazines. She has studied all the baby announcements framed on the walls, imagining what hers would look like. She greets the nurse with the familiarity of an old friend. And why not? Lately she has seen the nurse more frequently than she has seen her best friend. Only the nurse has seen the needle marks puncturing her arms and the landscape of bruises coloring her thighs. And only the nurse knows that all these needle marks and all these bruises are there to ready her body for an embryo created from the core of another woman. Mother.
I know a woman. She took off from work to meet a man at her house. He is there to see if she is good enough to become a mom. She has to tell him that her dad once was in rehab and that her husband’s credit score is 600 and that she took Prozac when she was a teenager. She has to let him see her closet and her basement so he can decide if she may have a child. If he does, she will take out loans and create a heavy dossier and travel back and forth for months, in an effort to bring home a little girl from a far-away country. Mother.
I know a woman. When her friends go home after work, she drives an hour to her fertility yoga class, or to her acupuncture session, or to her mind-body group. When they get together to celebrate with a glass of wine, she is home with her apple juice. When they meet for a run, she declines – no vigorous exercise for her anymore. But when they open gifts at their baby showers, she is there, cheering dutifully through the tears in her eyes. At night, her last thought before she falls asleep, is of her dream baby. Mother.

I know a woman. This Mother’s Day, she is to be celebrated, loved and cherished. No, she doesn’t have a child. And still.
I know a woman. That woman is you.