No woman likes to admit it, but mother’s day makes us vulnerable. We try not to make comparisons with other families. We try really hard to not have any expectations. Yet, how do you not have expectations? Perceptions and emotions are raw, even when we pretend they are not. And church is a difficult place to be on Mother’s Day for many of us. Here’s why…
I know for me, my mother died when I was a pre-teen. So it was hard to go to church to see my friends sitting with their mothers. In those days, a mother was honored with a corsage. So it was evident to all, who had remembered to thank their mother that day. And they were all sitting together in church…mothers and their children. Church was a lonely and difficult place to be without a mother. That is when I was young. Alone. Without my mother. Much of my young life, my mother was ill and then she died at a very young age. I was without my mother as I grew up. So I wasn’t exactly sure what it was like to have a mother. I just knew I was alone. Without my mother. And on Mother’s Day I felt especially vulnerable to raw emotions.
I know for me, as a barren wife for many, many years, it was really hard to go to church on Mother’s Day. It seemed like every woman there had children that had come home to worship with her.
Much of my life as a mother, I have been a single mother, so there was no husband to remind the kids that Mother’s Day is special. It was hard to go to church as a single mother on Mother’s Day. When they grew up a bit, I know for me, as a single mother of college kids, I wondered if they would forget they had a mother.
Much of my life as a mother now, they have been married (which made me a mother-in-law) and have moved far away. And there was no home for them to come home to. Single moms often do not have a real home. I know for me, when I became a mother-in -law and my kids moved away, it was really hard to go to church on Mother’s Day. It SEEMED like everyone else’s kids came home for Mother’s Day. Of course that wasn’t true, but that’s what it feels like to many moms I know.
Much of my life now, as an older person, has been with grandchildren that live far away. I know for me, as a grandmother, it is hard to go to church on Mother’s Day. It seems that everyone else’s kids AND grandkids have come home for Mother’s Day. Of course that is not true, but when I talk to other grandmothers, that is how they feel.
Pain and vulnerability.
Being a mother is to be vulnerable on so many levels. We give our bodies for 9 months of discomfort. And then we experience the pain of labor and of delivery. And then the growing up years with all those challenges. We always wonder if we made the right choices. We see numerous ways we could have done it better. We also know that we don’t make any decisions without thinking of how it will affect our children. They are a precious treasure from God. We don’t take that gift from the GIVER lightly.
Birth begins the separation process.
However…Once a mother, that very day, we begin the pain of separation. The birth begins the separation process. We are no longer one with our child. But we still FEEL like we are one. That never ever goes away. It is not realistic to hold on. The job of mothering is to work ourselves out of a job. And that is exactly what happens. Sometimes we do too good of a job of it. Sometimes the children forget that their mother actually gave them LIFE. And her body will never be the same.
Her heart will never feel WHOLE again. It is divided. Her heart is 1/2 hers and 1/2 her children’s. Her heart is vulnerable because it loves so deeply. So completely.
And that heart can be broken and shattered by the very ones that she has given her all for. Some of us have been through the pain of betrayal and divorce. Some have been through abuse..suffering at the very hands of those who should have provided for us and protected us.
My friends and I talk.
We speak of our deep love for our children. We also speak to the fact that (other than barrenness) there is no pain so deep as the pain that comes from parenting. Sometimes we wonder why. Why does it all hurt so much? What can we do about it?
One day a year is set aside to express gratitude. And to look for ways to honor and bless our mothers. At least ONE DAY (it would be lovely if more, but…that one day) is set aside to express gratitude in a way that — to her — is actually seen as a blessing.
That means taking the time as adults to get to know our mothers with adult eyes rather than the eyes of the child we once were.
What is a woman to do?
Comparisons. That’s not working for us. Hoping the church will be part of the healing. And yet it is NOT! Expectations. None of that is working for us. Because, in the end…there is pain without children. There is pain with children.
Is this part of the plan? Is this part of the “sharing in the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings”? Is all this actually a blessing in disguise? Is it all actually a gift to be embraced? The pain? The emptiness and the longing FOR a child and then the longing for a healthy relationship WITH the child?
Isn’t that exactly what our Father God feels as well? The longing for us to become His child and then the longing for a healthy relationship with each of His children?
Big sigh. I am so far from what He desires me to be. What about you? Let’s talk…
Until next time,