Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is not my favorite day to deal with, and this year it had the added sting of following so closely behind a loss and sharing the date with my birthday. I have often skipped church on Mother’s Day to avoid dealing with it – the awkward (for me, anyway) invitation to stand as an acknowledgement of achieving motherhood, the awkward (for me, anyway) gift that I can’t gracefully accept or decline without losing it a little, and the simple recognition of a day that I can’t really participate in even though I have children. It’s just not the same, and it’s a reminder of loss and unattainable dreams. The absolute hardest Mother’s Day church service is definitely baby dedication. It’s a sweet tradition – if you’ve had babies to dedicate – otherwise, it’s a good day to sleep in.
This year, there was no baby dedication during the service, and we decided to brave it. (Actually, I decided to try it, and my sweet husband who wouldn’t have been too affected by the day agreed to support whatever I felt like I could handle…) There was no extra standing ovation for the moms present this year, but there was a request during the greeting to hug a mom near you while greeting the people sitting around you. In the choir loft, mass hugging ensued, but I noticed one of our sweet older ladies on the back row had tears forming in her eyes while she tried to keep her face still. She and her husband have been married for over fifty years, and they never had children. She’s never told me so, but I get the feeling that she probably lost at least one pregnancy; she’s told me that people her age just don’t talk about things like that. I went over to give her a special hug, and she said, “It’s just a hard day.” I said, “I know” and spent the next song trying not to cry when I realized what I needed to tell her after the service.
After church I caught her in the ladies robing room before she had a chance to get out into the crowd so I could tell her this: “You are just as much a mother as anyone else here today who actually gave birth. You count today for all the time and love you have put into the lives around you – including mine. You are a mom, and you deserved a special hug today and to know that.” We were both crying by then, and she said, “It’s so nice to hear that you count.” It is nice, and it’s hard to feel like you count on a day like Mother’s Day when you have failed the simple biological task of becoming a mother. You feel like you shouldn’t count because you failed. It’s silly when viewed logically, but that’s the emotional toll.
I had the honor of helping another hurting lady through that day, and I was reminded less than five minutes later almost word for word by a sweet friend that I count for the same reasons I gave my choir buddy. Mother’s Day was still not an easy day for me, but it was a sweet reminder of how the body of Christ should work: serving and being served, building up and being built up, encouraging each other in love.

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