Ukraine means ‘country.’

Whatever happened to ‘make love, not war’?

Where do we go when madness rules the earth?

And I think about the mothers…

There comes a time in every woman’s journey when she faces those two converging paths Frost wrote about…to be or not to be a mother. Instinct and societal norms provoke the desire. Individual goals and preferences incite the response. For me, the choice of family or career never arose, for I had selected a course that allowed for both. What I didn’t envision in my youthful daydreams was having trouble conceiving, nor did I ever see a future when I would bear a special-needs child, yet both of these paths became mine to walk. The reams of prayers I sent skyward failed to change the trajectory. The universe, it seems, had other plans.

This month we celebrate Mother’s Day with cards and gifts and dinner out. We retell the family stories, the “Remember when’s” and “Mom did this” tales that recall the touch of a loving hand, the soothing words that eased our pain. If our mothers are no longer with us, we visit graveyards, lay those floral bouquets with teary eyes and a longing that will never be quenched. For those of us who have lost a child, and here again, I’m a member of the club, the advertisements and offerings of perfect families living perfect lives inside a commercial bring the taste of bitter to the sweet gone-by. It doesn’t help that our son’s birthday falls at the end of this beautiful month, on the cusp of the Memorial Day celebrations that mark an unofficial beginning to summer.

When I first attempted to conceive, I was unprepared for the revolt of my body. The long family tree evidenced a fertile family. Why then had mine revolted? Why had my ovaries decided not to drop eggs on a regular basis? Doctors shrugged. Drugs were prescribed. I was one of the lucky ones. The simplest treatment to stimulate ovulation worked. But during those months of trying, I learned about the women who never could, about those who conceived easily and lost their babies just as easily, about the ones for whom no treatment ever equalled success, about the ones like me who did everything right and still carried a less-than-perfect child. How do they feel in this month of Mayhem?

I’ve long since folded my sorrows into a tidy box of lost dreams, tucked all the hopes and dreams I held into a corner of my broken heart. Life demands that we go on. But I do not forget, and when social media announces that another bruised mama has received her membership card to the group, I mourn for her. Three times now, former students have joined the ranks, their natural feelings of sorrow, anger, fear, and despair part of the rocky trench we navigate not just at diagnosis, but forever. I wish to enfold them in a warm embrace, to assure them not that everything will be all right, because it won’t, but that each will find a strength she didn’t know resided in her, a resolve to see things through, a resilience no one should ever have to discover.

When bombs rain on cities and destruction tears at the fabric of civility, I wonder why we must spend our fortunes making war when we could be spending them on research and medications, on finding answers so no woman who chooses to bring life into the world will have to bury her dreams.