Mother's Day is this Sunday. Being connected to both the birth world and the world of pregnancy loss, I have been receiving quite a bit of information and unsolicited advice surrounding Mother's Day and the "proper" or "improper" ways in which to celebrate it. Both of these "worlds" collide on one Sunday in May every year and each can be prone to extremes. One extreme glorifies the day as though it should be sacrosanct and a veritable Christmas for mom. The other loads the day with triggers and sadness, preparing for its advent with hosts of warnings and suggestions on how to survive.
Sadly, neither one of these approaches is fair, and neither is all that helpful because both miss the whole point. I am a mother by virtue of my femininity. I am a mother because each woman is called to "mother" in whatever way God ordains. Motherhood, and God's plan for our individual experience of mothering is part of how we are to be sanctified here on earth.
So let me speak as a mother of four children, a mother who buried 4 children, a mother who miscarried 3 children and a mother who can't have any more children. Because despite all of those qualifiers, I am, when it comes down to it, simply a mother.
Sometimes my motherhood brings me unspeakable joy. I am in awe of the little people who are growing into big people under my eyes and in my home. I am terrified and humbled at the task that has been entrusted to me and to my husband to raise them, and raise them well.
Other times my motherhood bring me sadness. I miss the babies I never held. I cry at the graves of the ones we buried. I hurt for the "what could have been." But these feelings do not make me any less a mother, and seeing a happy mom on Mother's Day celebrating her own motherhood does not demean mine.
When my inability to be a mother to a new life brings me pain, I am no less the person God called me to be, no less capable of "mothering." When a new mom celebrates Mother's Day holding her baby, proud that she has joined the ranks of those who call themselves "mom," I am not made less of a person. I am not wounded by her new motherhood in the lack of mine.
So please, Celebrate Mother's Day.
Celebrate Mother's Day if you have children to hold.
Celebrate Mother's Day if you long to hold the ones who wait for you in Heaven.
Celebrate Mother's Day if you are called to mother by virtue of your femininity, if not your biology.
I appreciate the sentiment that exists that is concerned about saddening me and other moms who
wish they had babies to hold on Mother's Day. I have lost children. I cannot have more children, therefore, the thinking goes, one should consider apologizing for the day and walking on eggshells around me and others like me. As if my participation in the day puts a damper on others' happiness because they don't want their happiness to offend me. Here's the thing, though. I don't need a certain day to remind me that I miss my babies. Mother's Day is just one day out of 365 that I have empty arms; it isn't something I forget and your own Mother's Day well wishes are not going to suddenly remind me, nor are they going to send me into a fit of hysterics. (Though, if I were to be honest, there was a year that near-hysterics almost happened, and I learned an important lesson about self-care and self-knowledge).
Celebrate Mother's Day.
If I am feeling sad, like I am today, I will deal with my sadness. I will pray. I will cry if I have to. I will eat ice cream and binge watch something from the BBC and play a game with my youngest. I will hug my husband and he will let me cry or vent. Then I will compose myself and continue on. If Mother's Day is hard for me, it will be me and my husband who know it is, and I don't want you to worry. I don't want pity. I don't want a day that is supposed to celebrate life and the awesomeness of being a mother to become a day about being sad.
Celebrate Mother's Day.
Motherhood is hard! In all its forms, its hard! Having a day to say "Hey, Mom, well done, thank you!" is a lovely thing. A good thing. A fun thing. Let's keep it that way. If I think I am not going to be a fun person to be around I will either give myself a pep talk or I will go visit the cemetery, have a good cry, and do something quiet. I know how to exercise self-care. I know what I can handle. And if I'm wrong and think I can handle more than is realistic I also know I can excuse myself and give myself some grace.
Celebrate Mother's Day.
Sunday morning will come and my children will give me cards and make me lukewarm coffee and lumpy pancakes and they will be the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. They will say "Happy Mother's Day" to me and I will say "Thank You" and then we will do something that will most likely involve me cleaning and cooking and that's OK. Because the secret to Mother's Day isn't that it is a day to be glorified or avoided. It is a day that reminds us that Motherhood, in all its forms, is complicated and messy and beautiful and sometimes sad and sometimes painful and sometimes joyful. Motherhood is in God's plan for woman. May we all have the Grace and Courage to accept it in whatever form God has decided will get us to Heaven.