Mothers Day for the rest of us (and how to help a mom who’s hurting)
(Originally published on May 10, 2014)
To be entirely honest, I miss the “innocence” of Mother’s Day that I used to know. I’m all too aware that not all women fit neatly into the “Mother Box”, and that for some, Mother’s Day is incredibly hard – a time of mourning even. For some, it’s a time of celebration and gratitude. For others, it’s a mixture of both.
I get it. I count myself among those who have experienced miscarriage and difficulty conceiving and the threat of a potentially scary diagnosis of our unborn child. Even before that, I endured long years of wanting to become a mother while I felt like the entire world around me was moving on with their lives in marriage and motherhood and I was left behind in the dust, missing out on the one thing I wanted most.
I also count myself among those who are happy and fulfilled and overflowing with gratitude and wonder at the children that now fill my home and my heart and call me “mama”. As I have mothered them, so they have changed me in ways that have infinitely enriched my life. I don’t even know how to articulate how much I love them, how grateful I am for them, and how blessed I am to be their mom.
The more I mother, the more I realize that mothering doesn’t just belong to women who push babies out of their wombs. There are so many categories of women I want to honor and celebrate this Mother’s Day, not at the expense of our [birth/adopted/step] moms, but alongside them.
Women to remember this Mother’s Day, and suggestions for how to honor them:
- Women who’ve struggled with infertility. Send her a card or leave flowers and a “someone’s remembering you today” note on her doorstep.
- Women who’ve lost their moms. Write a text telling her your favorite thing about the mom she so desperately misses today.
- Women who’ve experienced miscarriages or stillbirth, neonatal death or—yes—even abortion. Let her know that you’re praying for her on a day that serves as a reminder of the child not calling her “mama” today.
- Women who’ve been caught in limbo as they struggle to adopt. Drop off some tea and pray with her that her mother’s love will find it’s destination.
- Women who’ve labored and mothered under the grievous diagnosis of a child or who have a child hospitalized in intensive care. Take her out for a pedicure (or simply wash her feet) and tell her what a hero she is.
- Women who’ve parented through a divorce, especially those with small children who can’t yet make her a card or whisper I love you’s or bring her a sloppy breakfast in bed. Send her out to bunch with her kids while you clean her house (or have her house professionally cleaned).
- Women who’ve lost their children to accidents or disease or suicide. Good gracious, send her flowers. Lots of flowers. She should be flooded with beauty and messages of remembrance on Mother’s Day.
- Women who’ve been shocked into new motherhood. Any woman with children under three probably needs to be encouraged that she’s doing a good job. Send her a card or write her an email, telling her that you see her long hours and hard work and point out how obvious it is that her children are thriving and flourishing under her care. (This probably goes for women shocked into newly mothering teenagers, too.)
- Women who’ve given their lives to mother beyond borders. They mother across dinner tables and youth groups and bible studies and classrooms. They mother and mentor through social work or missionary work, coaching or causes. Invite her to into our celebrations, give her chocolates, and tell her that we see her, too.
- Women who’ve yearned to birth children but sit alone in singleness, waiting for a man to begin a family with. Thank her for her role as auntie to your children and for helping to mother your children so well. Buy her a book about empowering women such as Half the Sky.
- Women who’ve been deployed, serving far away from their families. Send her a pretty e-card and tell her thank you for choosing to sacrifice on behalf of her family and yours and your country.
- Women who face grim statistics for death in childbirth. According to WHO, one woman dies in childbirth every minute. Join the Love A Mama Collective as we help make childbirth safer for mothers and their babies, giving both a better chance at life.
- Women who’s daughters or sons are missing. Whether it be mothers in Nigeria or Nebraska with daughters on the “missing persons” list, remember her – pray for her, lift your voice for her cause, assure her that you’ve not forgotten. (This is what I want for Mother’s Day this year – #bringbackourgirls.)
As I wrote this list, I realized that I now fit into several of these categories—none of which define me or sum up my entire motherhood experience, but all of which are important in bringing depth to my mother’s heart and my parenting journey so far. This Mother’s Day I will rejoice and mourn, but in all of it I will give thanks for the Mother-heart of God that draws me close and covers me, like Jesus longed to do for Jerusalem:
How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. (Matthew 23:37b, The Message)
And that’s what I wish for your Mother’s Day too: that you would be held close, affirmed, comforted, and celebrated.
Because you mom, and you mother-heart—you’re changing the world with your love.
Psssssst… Still looking for a meaningful way to honor you mom or another special woman in your life this Mother’s Day? Join the Love A Mama Collective as we help make childbirth safer for mothers and their babies, giving both a better chance at life. We’ll send you a printable card for your mom, letting her know of the donation you made on her behalf toward the Love A Mama Midwifery Scholarship. A perfect gift for the woman who has everything… and the one who has nothing.