[I wrote this post 4 years ago. Re-reading my own words with a tender-heart this morning. Maybe this mother’s day feels tender for you, too. Sometimes seemingly simple holidays can feel the most complicated. Sending a hug with these words.]
There are many things I don’t yet know about motherhood. But I do know some of you have been trying for years to get pregnant and can’t. There are no answers, no explanations, just frustrating trips to the doctor followed by peeing on pregnancy strips, hoping for two pink lines to appear. Each month the aching grows deeper; the endless google searching for explanations continues. I can imagine parts of the sadness, longing and frustration that eats up your insides, wondering…why? I know for you, whose deepest desire is to be a mom, Mother’s Day can be a reminder of what you are not.
And then there are others of you, who were pregnant. You know the joy of seeing a tiny blur on the screen and hearing the subtle heartbeat of the little one inside. But you also know the secret, lonely loss of losing the baby. We call it a miscarriage, but maybe for you it felt more like a death. I’ve heard it said that a “woman becomes a mother at conception, and a man becomes a father at birth.” I wonder if on Mother’s Day you grieve for what you had and feel the pain that any mother would feel when something happens to one of her children.
I remember a few years ago a 31-year old professor from my old university died in surgery complications and left behind a beloved wife, expecting their first baby in July. Things like that shouldn’t happen. Maybe you know what that’s like. Maybe you’re a mom whose life didn’t go as expected. You know the tragic loss of having to bury your own child. I don’t think it matters if your child was 18 months or 18 years. The pain seems unbearable and unfair. Or maybe like the wife of my professor, you lost your first love. The man you dreamed of being a father to your children now will not. I am sure Mother’s Day is a swirl of emotions. You may remember the joy your children or grandchildren bring, but you cannot deny the gaping hole longing for the other child or the spouse who is no longer here to celebrate with you this Mother’s Day.
You may be a mom who is not grieving the death of a child, but perhaps is longing for a restored relationship, or any relationship with your grown son or daughter. All you want is to be a part of their life or meet your grandchild, but maybe there is so much history and hurt in your relationship, that they have shut you out. And maybe Mother’s Day is a reminder of your countless attempts to bring healing and forgiveness, but you still live the painful reality that you’re not as close to your kids as you’d like.
Or maybe you’re a single women and this Mother’s Day feels hard for a different reason. Something inside is ticking and with each passing year your desire to be a mom grows. Seeing a woman walking down the street with her growing belly or a baby snuggled in a stroller is enough to make your insides hurt. You ask why it seems like other people get to live the life you’ve always wanted. You go to baby showers, and listen to friends talk about breastfeeding and birthing plans, inside secretly wondering when you’ll get to contribute to the conversation. You so deeply want to be a mom, but you also want to be married first. And waiting for two significant things that feel very much outside of your control is hard. And Mother’s Day reminds you not just of what you don’t have, but of you what you had hoped would have already happened by now.
And then there are some of you who have lost your mom. It may have been a few months ago or decades ago, but Mother’s Day reminds you of her. Maybe she died when you were younger, but now that you’re a mom, you find yourself longing for and missing her in ways you didn’t know. Maybe your mom’s life was robbed unexpectedly from cancer or a car accident. And you are angry that she wasn’t there for you growing up. Or maybe your mom lived a long and happy life, but your last memories of her- weak, frail and suffering- bring you sadness. Perhaps this Mother’s Day you will be remembering and honoring the mom who is no longer with you.
I don’t know where you will be this Mother’s Day, but I pray that when you gather with family or friends, at church or around the table, in backyards or living rooms, that you would be able to feel loved just where you are. My hope is that there would be room to celebrate new life and grieve the lives that are gone. May you surround yourself with people who can both acknowledge crushed dreams and hold on to hope when you feel like you no longer can.
Because sometimes Mother’s Day just feels hard.
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