Motherhood. Unfortunately for thousands of moms every year their version is one without their child. Motherhood is a club some are excited to join and others are dragged into, it is however a club once joined we never leave willingly.

For me motherhood is embracing the fact I am a mother even without a child to parent. It is celebrating the life my daughter Alison did live. It’s celebrating the five years I was blessed with her lively, challenging, courageous, and loving presence in my life.

It is letting go of what ‘should’ve been’ because it isn’t reality.  If it should’ve been, it would’ve been. While I may not like the journey Alison’s life took, it was her journey.

The same goes for ‘could’ve been’. My ‘could’ve been’ for Alison was my vision for her life, probably not what she would’ve envisioned for herself. Who knows, she could’ve decided to be a rock star groupie riding off into the sunset on the back of a motorcycle at sixteen….

It is letting go of the guilt. I didn’t choose this path for Alison. I didn’t have ultimate control over what happened.  If I did, it would’ve turned out very differently. Yes, there are plenty of things I can justifiably feel guilty about, and I’ve dealt with those.

For me it boils down to recognizing if Alison’s life wasn’t mine, it also means my life is not Alison’s. I am responsible for my life. I decide how I live today, tomorrow, next week. I decide my ongoing relationship with grief and living a happy life each and every day.

It is choosing to join in conversations with other mothers when I have something relevant to share, even if proof of my credibility isn’t known by many of those in my current life.

This is my shout out to the fellow mothers who have empty arms and full hearts. You are still part of the motherhood. You will always have a place in this club.

To those mothers who don’t know if you want to cry or smile, you have permission to do both or neither. It’s your child, your grief, and your life you are fighting like hell to create day by day.

If you hesitate before sharing a memory of your child because you aren’t sure how it will be received or what explanations you’ll need to make, do what’s best for you. Share if that’s what will bring you joy. Don’t if it won’t. You aren’t betraying your child’s memory by guarding it from those who won’t hold it with the care it deserves.

And to you mothers with living children, don’t hesitate to mention a deceased child’s name. Share the memories you have. There isn’t a single thing we treasure more than knowing our child is remembered.

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