Mother’s Day?

This year, I find myself thinking about Mother’s Day and the hype surrounding it. Honestly, I think I’m kind of over it.  Maybe it’s a passing phase, but I keep thinking about the things no-one talks about…like how, after the gifts are opened, she’ll be the one to clean up the wrapping paper, the one to tidy up and discard the dead flowers, who laundered, ironed/folded the clothes everyone wore to take her out to eat.

But I’ve mostly been thinking about how Mother’s Day is so focused on the ladies who’ve had children.

I think it’s generally understood that bringing a child into the world doesn’t make someone a mom. I mean, we’ve heard the stories—women who’ve sold their little girls’ bodies to purchase an outfit, accepted money from a school-age daughter’s “boyfriend” to pay a bill, or who’ve just taken off without a backward glance. True, we don’t uphold and laud these examples, but we don’t talk much about them either.

And there’s another group who gets lost in the fray: those women who may not have physically had children, but who deserve just as much hype as those who have. More, in some cases. So, while I wish a great and stress-free Mother’s Day to everyone who has loved and cherished the children she bore…this year, I want to remember the ones who are easy to forget.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to you, the woman who waits (kind of) patiently for the right man, praying over the sound of your biological clock, refusing to settle for just any “sperm donor”. Though it means you often stand alone, you won’t compromise. You get it: the importance of the right support to raise your children. For that, I salute you, lady.

A Happy Mother’s Day to you—the lady who’s lost more babies to miscarriage than she cares to admit, you who have so much love and no baby to give it to. Yet.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, who’ve suffered the unspeakable loss of the child you bore, perhaps the child you raised. Your empty arms make you no less a mother. This year, I celebrate your love—because I know it will live forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to you: the educator, neighbor, babysitter, the lady who cares for and guides other people’s children. Thank you for being the one who watches over them, catching all those little unspoken things—except for that one glance when your back is turned, the one that says they wish yours was the womb that carried them.

And there are so many still unnamed, including the men who’ve stepped up to fill those empty spaces. So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, but especially to the ones who aren’t smiling this year, the ones who hurt.

As I celebrate you, I pray that your Mother’s Day will be an unforgettable celebration of YOUR love, of the lives you influence, the sacrifices you’ve made, the assured hope that your prayers will soon be answered. Until then, I send you Blessings and my prayers. Know that while you may not get pretty gifts or spa dates or huge bouquets, I am thinking of you, with love.

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So you can hear me (Sarah’s Ballad)

I write so you can hear me…

on sleepless nights when barren cots are drenched with tears
when reaching out is too much for empty limbs

and fighting is beyond my weakened soul

I write so you can hear me.

Daddy

Sooo…this may sound weird, but I’m going to start this by telling you about Mother’s Day.

This year, Mothers’ Day was hard.  I was sure I was pregnant.  I mean, the stage was set:

  1. I hadn’t felt like choking anyone or running away from home all week.
  2. My period was late.
  3. It was Mothers’ Day.

Well, anyone could see that this was a Divine Trifecta, orchestrated by God to bring a theatrical, testimony-worthy end to eight years of miscarriage, stillbirth and waiting.

And then, as I began getting ready for church—where I had planned to execute a deeply spiritual and heart-felt praise, celebrating the conclusion of this stage of my journey—I felt it.  There was no mistaking it: that familiar mild cramp followed by the light cold sweat that always preceded my period.  I sat down in my usual prayer spot and started praying, but I felt heavy and discouraged.

What was happening?  Didn’t God know that today would have been the perfect day for me to take that pregnancy test and get a big fat positive?  Didn’t He appreciate that this would be a powerful story that would be passed down to my children and the generations that followed?  Didn’t He see how He would get the glory out of this?  How could another period bring Him any glory?

I glanced up and saw my husband and son approaching me, both with conspiratorial looks on their faces.  I dried my tears and tried to connect to the moment as they presented gifts and gushed about the plans for later.  As I slowly and gently removed the wrapping paper, I said a silent prayer, asking God to help me be grateful and get past this hurt in my heart.

Then, my son pulled out his card.  It was an original.  Made of construction paper, it featured a huge heart on the front, where he had written the date in his big cursive hand.  I saw the pride on his face.  Opening the card, I read his note out loud.  In part, it said:

“…I just want to wish you a Happy and Blessed Mother’s Day.  May God continue to bless you with wisdom and courage. …”

And I started bawling.

Not because I was feeling discouraged, or betrayed or unworthy.  Yes, those feelings were there.  But they weren’t responsible for my tears.  I was crying because I knew I’d been ungrateful, and I didn’t deserve this gift—the gift of another opportunity to appreciate what I had, instead of moaning over what I didn’t get.  My son wanted an explanation, but I couldn’t describe to a ten year old everything that was going on in my heart.  So I did the best I could.

“I’m just really thankful for you and daddy,” I said, a little sheepishly.

I’d like to tell you that I spent that day full of gratitude.  But I didn’t.  I was back to sulking by the time I stepped into church – an ill-tempered twenty minutes after the service had begun. I participated in worship, but grudgingly.  I felt like I’d been set up.  And I wasn’t about to pretend that I liked it.

A few days later, I was trying to explain to my son why he couldn’t add another activity to his already packed schedule just yet.  When that wasn’t successful, I told him that my decisions were always made based on what was best for him, so even if he didn’t get it, he should just obey me anyway.  In that moment, God spoke to me.    He wanted me to know that, like any good parent, His choices are always for my good.  Like any child, I can’t always see that.  Like most children, I want what I want; I want what He promised me, and I want it now.

Now.

NOW.

But now isn’t necessarily what’s best for me.  Isaiah 46:10 says that God sees the end from the beginning.  I haven’t been blessed with that ability in its fullness, because…well…I’m not God.  He is.  And like any good parent, He would be irresponsible to give me something ahead of the right time, because even a good gift at the wrong time can cause chaos.  There will come a time when my son will be able to tackle college and a full social life and living on his own.  He’ll probably thrive while he does those things all at once.  But that time is not now.

So, while I preach to my son about patience and trusting me to have his best interests at heart, God is speaking the same message to my heart.  He’s asking me to exercise the patient endurance that will eventually bear good fruit (Luke 8:15), to keep serving even when I don’t get what I want; even when I don’t understand.

In the dark, He calls me to walk this journey out—trusting Him for the wisdom and courage to obey Him anyway, just because He’s God…and the best Daddy ever.