By Amanda Grazioli

“Mommy, mommy! Wait for me.”

A tiny little girl, all pigtails and dimples, blows by me and breaks me from my concentration. She runs up to her mom and grabs her hand. I’m sitting at a tiny garden table at a botanic garden, typing at my laptop. Her cries shatter me.

I look up from my work and realize that I am surrounded by happy families. A pregnant mother pushes a toddler in a stroller. A dad and his son use a magnifying glass to look at the leaves of a plant. And the small girl who yelled just a moment ago is being swept up by her mom and carried toward a nearby table to enjoy a juice box and some crackers. I am invisible to them all as I watch each happy scene play out.

To find myself in the midst of sticky, happy, familial chaos is not an unusual occurrence. In fact, some of my favorite places— gardens, parks, and farmers’ markets—are obvious destinations for family outings. I can’t help it. I love fresh air and a locally grown bunch of chard. I don’t want to give up the places and things that bring me joy, but increasingly the pain creeps in and tries to convince me to just go home.

For two and a half years, I have been trying with every fiber of my being to earn the most powerful identity I can think of: mother. It’s my dream job, one I have wanted for decades and one I am certain I’m destined for. Being out in the world as a married 30-something and not having the most obvious accessory—a child or two—makes me feel naked and out of place. I imagine it would feel different if I were childless by choice, or if I still held the wide-eyed hope that whenever I was ready I’d be able to conceive at home in our bed. But now, every happy family serves as a stark reminder of the thing I want so badly that seems so impossibly out of reach.

Spring is a particularly hard time to be infertile or to have suffered the loss of a child. It’s a season brimming with new life and celebrations of family. At this time of year, I’d give just about anything to take my child to a playground or marvel with her at newborn bunnies in the yard. I’ve reached the age at which one of the first questions I’m asked when I meet someone new is, “Do you have kids?”. There’s just no good answer to give without unpacking it all. So instead I smile and joke, “Nope, just us and the cat. Still waiting on kids.” Waiting.

To all of my fellow infertility warriors, please take good care. Don’t hide from the world—find ways to walk in the sunshine. I know it can feel like you are alone. Remember that you are part of a community of thousands of brave, remarkable women across the country and the globe who know what it’s like to lose a child or to long to conceive one. I send you hope, and love, and my deepest gratitude for walking this road with me.

To all of the amazing mommas out there: enjoy every moment. Be grateful for your beautiful children and spend as much time as you can soaking up their love. Relish the immense gift of occupying such a precious place in your child’s world.

As for me, I’ll be waiting.

Amanda Grazioli is a freelance writer and communications consultant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theater from Boston College and master’s degrees in arts administration and applied drama from Eastern Michigan University. Amanda enjoys theater, cooking, the outdoors, and gardening. Tom Petty tunes dominate her infertility playlist, and she loves sending and receiving handwritten letters.