When I became a mom, my husband did his best to make it special, so I hid the sadness I experienced being so far away from my mom. It was years later that I faced the holiday with my Mom truly gone. It hurt as I realized I would no longer be able to hear her voice, buy her a card, or send her flowers. I was a bit more prepared because I had some friends who had shared the grief they experienced with me on Mother's Day. They had lost their mothers so early in life. Sadly, some of them were so young they had to tell teachers they didn't want to make a card because they didn't have a mom. They felt different and hated feeling that way.
This morning I still feel a sense of loss, especially since my sister passed away yesterday. My grief carries with it a feeling of compassion because of the painful stories others have shared with me and it drives me to my knees as God is the only one that can help those who hurt.
I pray for those for whom this holiday stirs up longings for relationships with moms that they know will never be fulfilled. It doesn't matter if their moms have died, if their moms have abandoned them, if their moms are too dysfunctional to relate to them in healthy ways, or if their moms betrayed them and didn't protect them. The pain of longing they feel is a pain that runs so deep. Some long to hear their mothers' voices speak words of affirmation, knowing they know most likely will never be spoken. Some long to hear much needed apologies for harsh words spoken in fits of rage, for loving so poorly, for failing to protect, or for leaving when life got hard. Some are longing for one more bear hug or for the hugs that will never be given. Some long for one more conversation or long for a conversation they know they will never have. Some long to hear their moms' laugh again or are left wondering what their laughs would have sounded like had depression not stolen them. Some long to hear their moms say they understand, realizing their moms won't hear their words and respect their perspectives. Some long to have moms who would have protected them from perpetrators instead of choosing to protect their family's reputations, their church, or the delusion that their families were healthy and happy. Some long for moms who were stable enough to calm fears instead of being the source of the fears.
I pray for those whose hearts feel empty on this Mother's Day. Maybe it is because they can't remember a time that they didn't long for a child and live with the realization they will never conceive. Their hearts grieve monthly, but even more on this day. They hurt not only for the unfulfilled longing, but because of the lack of empathy and the people who tell them to get over their grief or who admonish them to trust God more. What do they do with the longing the Creator has written on their hearts?
I pray for the ladies who were able to conceive but who lost children before they could breath their first breath. They grieve the loss of the baby they wanted but will never get to hold. And they grieve the loss of hopes and expectations they had for their child and themselves as parents. Many suffer in silence because those around them didn't recognize their loss and those that did are impatient with the grief they express.
I pray for the moms whose memories include abortion. No matter what their reasons were, they were deceived into believing it would make life easier. Yet, every year they remember and feel the loss that is shrouded in shame. They find themselves wondering about the child whose life ended because of the choices they made. I am thankful for those who have experienced God's grace and have been given a safe place to grieve and repent. And I pray for those who haven't repented, hoping they will do so, so they can freely grieve and confess the decision they made and learn to cling to the assurance of a heavenly reunion.
I pray for the moms who were fortunate enough to birth children and enjoy them for a season only to lose them way too soon. They have walked a grieving journey many of us will never walk. When this day rolls around, their hearts are both heavy and thankful as they remember past Mother's Days filled with and hand made cards, expressing childish sentiments. Even those with other children are painfully aware of the empty chair at the table.
I pray for the moms who have children who are incarcerated or who have run away. The shame of wondering where they went wrong is sometimes too much to bear. The worry that comes from wondering if children are alive, safe, cold, hungry, or in harm's way is constant. They not only grieve the choices made by their children, they grieve the holes left in their family and the dashed hopes they once held dear for their kids.
I also pray for the moms and the children who lost their relationship through suicide. That death is a hard one to grieve because of all the unasked and unanswered questions. "Was it my fault?" "Could I have prevented it?" "Why did they want to die?" "Why did they prefer death over life?" "What signs did I miss?"
One of my friends suddenly lost her mom several years ago in a tragic accident. She has shared that on the Saturday before Mother's day, she takes time to acknowledge, remember, and grieve the losses she experiences because of her mom's death--losses like her children never getting to know their grandmother, the words and notes of affirmation her mom was so good at giving, the godly wisdom she shared, and the hours she knew her mom was on her knees praying for her and her siblings. Setting this day apart for remembering her mom, has helped her be able to stay present with her kids and enjoy her mother's day.
I don't share this post to take away the celebration of this holiday as it's a holiday that deserves to be recognized, honored, and celebrated! My goal is simply to remind us that it is not always easy for others. I hope we can be empathetic and gracious as we rub shoulders with those whose experience today is not one of joy. Empathy might mean writing a note to a friend struggling with infertility. It might mean planting a rose bush with someone who's lost a child or a mom. It might mean having coffee with a friend and allowing her to talk about her loss without admonishing her to move on. It might mean doing something creative with a friend who has suffered a loss and wants to bless another. It might mean having lunch with someone spending their first Mother's Day alone, reminding them through your presence that you remember their loss with them. It might mean being willing to listen to a process letter written to a mother who was absent, distracted, unloving, or abusive and then helping them figure out ways to release the pain they feel and to forgive at a deeper level. The possibilities are endless, for when Mother's Day is hard, it offers us so many opportunities to love those who hurt in tangible ways.