Four days and counting.
For some, it's a day on the calendar, a meal to plan, a card to get in the mail, flowers to buy, a phone call to make, a child to celebrate for making you a mom.
For others, the storm clouds begin to gather weeks in advance, an ominous reminder that it's coming. Ominous because this day that celebrates family and motherhood for others holds acute pain and sadness for you.
The woman who has struggled with and through infertility,
whatever the result.
The single woman for whom the title of wife and mother seems
tantalizingly out of reach.
The mom who has a child (whatever the age) in Heaven.
The child (whatever the age) who has a mom in Heaven.
The expectant mom journeying through a difficult pregnancy
with an uncertain outcome.
The child whose memories of Mom are full of pain and regret
The mom whose children are far away, physically or relationally.
Even five years out from the loss of my daughter, I have an uneasy relationship with Mother's Day. But some years have been particularly excruciating. Especially if you are walking through a recent loss, or a new diagnosis, you may feel like you just want to hunker down until the storm passes. And you know what?
Especially this year, take your time. If going out in public on Sunday makes you break out in a cold sweat, stay home. If being around your pregnant relative will make you break down in tears, send your regrets in advance. If having your family around you will be a comfort, gather them in. Be gentle with yourself. Leave the expectations behind. Communicate to family what you can and can't handle this year.
If you are close to someone for whom Mother's Day holds an acute pain, please be gentle with them. Let them know you understand. That you are praying for them and standing with them. That they are welcome at your table or in your church, but not pressured to be there.
You're not alone. There are so many of us who do the Mother's Day dance every every, trying to figure out exactly what steps we can take this year or if we want to sit it out altogether.
And more than that, God is with you. The One whose love for you is stronger than that of a mother for her child (Isaiah 49:15). Who promises to be near us when we are brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Lean into him this Sunday and let Him carry you through it. Monday will come, I promise, and you will be the stronger for it in the end.
Dear one who would like to skip Mother's Day, I am praying for you. There are no rules for how to spend the second Sunday of May when your heart is breaking. You are stronger than you think...but you don't need to prove it to anyone.
And this Sunday, may you find peace in the midst of the storm.
For most people, Mother's Day means breakfast in bed, long-distance phone calls, sending cards and flowers, and going out for a meal. But for many, many women, Mother's Day is only a reminder of what they lack. For weeks leading up to Mother's Day, pregnancy loss and infertility message boards fill up with thoughts of how to survive Mother's Day, why it's so hard, and a collective wish that the holiday would just hurry up and get here so we wouldn't have to think about it for another year.
One big topic of discussion is whether or not to go to church that day. While some churches don't make much of Mother's Day, others make so much of it that those without living children feel not only excluded, but lesser than, and choose to stay home rather than put their heart through such a painful ordeal. If you are in ministry, would you consider these four ways to make Mother's Day less painful this year for those in your congregation that may find it to be so?
Recognize that Mother's Day is hard. It's not only hard for women dealing with infertility or pregnancy loss, but also for those who have lost their own mothers, or who have a strained relationship with them or with their children. Say something about this both from the pulpit and during the week prior to Mother's Day, whether through e-mail or the church Facebook page. Recognition goes a long, long way.
Don't make Mother's Day about a competition. Giving special prizes to the oldest mom, the youngest mom, the one with the most children, the one with the newest baby - it seems like just fun and games, but it makes the quest for motherhood feel like a contest that some women just can win. Motherhood is a privilege and a gift, not a reward. In fact, the founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, was single with no children, and her mother had only four of her eleven children reach adulthood.
Make Mother's Day a celebration of all women. Don't only focus on those who are mothers through birth or adoption, but those who "mother" others through children's ministry or through mentoring others. Celebrate the life-generating side of the women in your church who express themselves in many creative ways - decorating, cooking, gardening, writing, leading in the business world, teaching. Being a godly woman is about so much more than just being a mom.
Speak with those you know for whom this day might be hard. If they come to church, take a moment to say, "I know this day may be hard for you, and I'm praying for you." Take time this week to e-mail them with the same message. If they don't come on Sunday, don't judge. If they do come, don't assume they are not still hurting. Lift them up in prayer.
Mother's Day has the potential to be a blessing to all women in your church, whether or not they are seen as mothers by the world.
What will your church do to make this happen? Please comment below!
Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review