Mother’s Day – two words that evokes a range of emotions for many women. I recently ran across this prayer written by a woman named Amy Young, who recognizes the full and complex spectrum of motherhood. I found it so beautiful and only fitting to share here:
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you.
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day.
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths.
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you.
To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
For many women struggling with infertility, Mother’s Day is almost unbearable at times. But please, I don’t want you to think it is because we are filled with envy, bitterness or jealous towards mothers – we aren’t. We recognize and appreciate them SO much. Our own mom’s, our mother-in-laws, our aunts who took up special mothering roles (like the “cool” secret keeper …. except now as adults we realize you probably did tell our mom.), grandmothers, mentors, friends … we are BLESSED to have so many Proverbs 31 women in our life that have invested life into us and those around us. We honor these women, like Jesus did with His own mother, and treasure you. We honor the snotty noses you have wiped, the late night vomit you have cleaned up, the millions of crushed cheerios you have swept up and the zillion times you have had to watch Frozen. Your children are a blessing and you see that and we hope you feel immense gratitude and appreciation from your family this weekend especially.
So no, we don’t find mother’s day unbearable because we are bitter. It’s just that this day can be a gigantic reminder that we have unfulfilled longings. Longings that leave a gargantuan hole in our heart and Mother’s Day can feel like someone grabbed a block of salt and began rubbing it in our already-sensitive wound. It takes a lot of strength on Mother’s Day to focus on anything but that hole and some years may be better than others. Avoiding church services or special programs may be done simply to avoid the temptation to make ourselves pick the sadness scab. Please don’t take it personal if we decline an event – depending on how the heart hole feels that day, it may simply be that we don’t want to take anything away from YOU by attending.
Last night I was reading John 16 and was deeply moved by verse 21: “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for she has joy that a human being has been born into the world.” This verse brought God’s presence into my room like a snap. It reminded me that the moments of sorrow can feel so great and overwhelming, however, when that moment comes and the Lord answers our prayers, we will no longer remember the anguish for that joy will be overwhelming.
I love the Message’s transition of verses 21-22: “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.”
So, to my friends who are struggling this Mother’s Day, I urge you to focus on the joy that is coming. Focus on the fact that you are already a mother thanks to your mothering heart. You have likely impacted someone around you – a niece or nephew, a cousin or sibling, a friend’s child or the children in the church nursery – in a way that blesses them with love. Perhaps we have yet to understand that “link” between a mother and her child, but that doesn’t mean that on Mother’s Day you have to be disregarded. You have already demonstrated such love and strength for your future family that you shouldn’t be unnoticed today. I pray that your hearts are filled with peace as this day arrives and that instead of feeling an unbearable pain, you are filled with a hope for the future and are appreciated by those around you.
To my own angel babies – Mommy loves you so much! I know if you could have, you would have been here with me on this day. Your life was short but now your life is eternal in the best place. You have some very special company up there too – many other angel babies of dear friends of mine. If you could all get together today and touch each Mommy’s heart and through God’s strength, renew us with renewed fight to keep pursuing your siblings. You are so loved and your absence is felt by us here on this earth.
This Mother’s Day, I celebrate the women with children on this earth and also the 1 Samuel 1 women. Friends, take comfort in the fact that God hears the cries of all of our hearts and will draw near to us as we draw near to Him. The chapter in John closes by Jesus saying “… Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” We will keep asking, in HIS name, and as we seek Him, our joy will be full.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends with a mother’s heart.