When Mother’s Day Means Something Else


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To: The women for whom Mother’s Day means something else-

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 a + to appear. Each month the aching grows deeper;  the endless google searching for explanations continuesI can only imagine 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 read this week that 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. And 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 the 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.

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 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 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 baby bump or a baby snuggled in a stroller is enough to make you cry a little on the inside. 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 breast feeding 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 to chose to remember and honor 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 dinner tables, in backyards or living rooms, that you would be able to just be. And that there would be room to celebrate new life, grieve the lives that are gone, acknowledge crushed dreams and hold on to hope for those that can longer dream for themselves.

I sincerely hope we can re-define this Hallmark holiday and write and speak about all that Mother’s Day encompasses.

From a woman hoping to one-day be a mother,


P.S. What does Mother’s day mean for you this year?



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8 thoughts on “When Mother’s Day Means Something Else

  1. I can certainly, 100% agree with you that Mother’s Day is likely a very painful holiday for many women. Did you know the woman who invented Mother’s Day actually began protesting the holiday before her death? She said it had become over commercialized.

    To answer your question: I really, really wish I didn’t have expectations for tomorrow. I do, though. I want time to myself, and I want to feel praised and admired by my husband for the work I have put into a new (and hard) job. I wonder how many other women are like me… looking forward with expectation towards our husbands. Will they acknowledge our good work?

    I cannot compare my emotions with previous years since this is my first year as a mom, but, I suppose some of my expectation is because I feel like i haven’t gotten a lot of time off this year, and J hasn’t been able to step in for me in ways I imagined he would because of going through chemo. I think in future years I will not have such expectations for Mother’s Day because he will do a good job honoring me in small ways throughout the year (just as I hope to do for him). But this year, Mother’s Day means that we get to stop for a moment and things get to be about me rather than him. And I need that. 🙂

    I’m not sure that even answered your question. And when I re-read what I just wrote, it sounds horribly selfish. I hope it doesn’t read that way to anyone else.

  2. Thanks so much for this, Michelle. I think a lot of kids need to hear this too; I remember in 5th grade when all the other kids were making mother’s day cards in art class and my teacher took me aside and suggested I could make a card for my dad instead…it was a sweet thought but it just wasn’t the same. I am so thankful for your sensitivity and insight in sharing your thoughts on this, I have no doubt that many others are reading this and resonating with it as well.

  3. Lesley, it doesn’t sounds selfish at all- expectations are hard, especially when they’re not shared. I can only imagine the added challenges and stress of having your best friend and spouse who is usually you #1 supporter out of commission due to something neither one of you asked for or planned. Praying tomorrow is memorable and full of some fun surprises!

  4. Thanks Katie. To be honest you and many of our conversations came to mind as I was writing this. Love you! Thinking of you and your mom tomorrow!

  5. I am of the school that mother’s day is every day in my house. I live with my mother and my daughter and each day (though it is far from perfect) we appreciate and love one another. I know that in that way I am very lucky. But, here comes Mother’s Day, forced upon us by Hallmark and society. So far I’ve walked the dog, started the laundry, and made breakfast. Next on my list? Grocery shopping, making dinner, and taking someone else’s elderly aunt shopping.

    Even if one doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day (that’s me) there are expectations. I definitely feel for all those women who desperately want to be moms or were moms and today is just a sad reminder

  6. I know this comment is a bit outdated, but it hit me. Thanks so much for writing it. I lost my mom in May due to health complications. It was just weeks after Mothers Day. Since I knew that I was going home soon and my mom was in such bad conditions I decided not to go visit her. It was a Sunday and I knew my brother would be there with her anyway. Now almost two months after her death I am constantly reminded that I did not spend the last Christmas or Mothers Day with my own Mom. Considering I’m 20, a mothers day for me will be far off. Mothers day will now be a reminder that I no longer have my mom, and have a long way to become one!

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