May 13, 2013

Day 13: A Mother's Day apology

Today's prompt:  Issue a public apology.

I'm sorry I don't love Mother's Day.  I feel like I should - after all, I am a mother myself.  It's just not my favorite day.  Most of the time, I wish it could be skipped.

Mother's Day evokes ambivalence for me.  It's a holiday that is full of so much emotion as it carries the potential for so much joy and so much pain all at the same time.  Even though I am a mom myself, the day never feels easy or only happy or sweet.  Perhaps it's my attitude or maybe it's just my tender heart that feels all that there is to feel on such a day.

It's always hard to navigate through the day.  Allowing myself to be honored and enjoyed by my husband and children.  Celebrating the moms and grand-moms in my life.  And feeling the swirling chaos of all my heart holds on such a day. 

This year, my heart felt the enormity of having two children in my arms this year.  TWO.  For some reason, it feels like so many more than one.  And yesterday, my heart and my arms were full.  My cup runneth over.  There is not a day that goes by, that I don't thank God for giving me these two boys to raise.  I love them so.
But with all of the joy, there is the pain of not having my own mom here too.  Of feeling extra mother-less, because my Robin and my mother-in-law and the other "like-a-mom's" in my life can ever fill that void or take that pain away.  They're not supposed to.

I remember on several occasions, long before I had my boys, where I would be sitting in church and the pastor would ask all the mothers in the auditorium to stand so they could be applauded.  And it wasn't the recognition or the applause that bothered me.  It was the women, the few, that remained seated. 

What was their story?   Single?  Engaged?  Newlyweds?  Had they maybe lost their child?  Or could they not conceive?  Were they struggling and hoping and waiting for a positive pregnancy test?  How did it feel for them to remain seated and not stand with the other women?  Shouldn't they, shouldn't we ALL stand?

Mother's day to the childless, is a hard day.  I remember.  While in the last few years, I have learned that my original OBYGN from years ago gave me some lousy information about my body and the part about "never being able to have my own babies" (obviously inaccurate) - I do remember being one of those few women seated then.  Hoping I would have someone call me mommy someday as if I had to wait to be chosen for motherhood. 

I have a precious, dear friend who is waiting - trying and hoping and every month that goes by without a pregnancy, tears are cried and I cry them with her.  I squeezed her hand and hugged her hard yesterday, knowing how brave and courageous she was.  To show up and be at church yesterday amidst the mamas and the babies and all of the Mother's day hoopla. 

Another dear friend is like me - motherless.  Even though her mom has been gone almost as long as mine has, this year hit her hard.  She felt grief in new ways and though she had three beautiful children at her side, part of her heart was empty and hurting. 

Maybe I wish that the rest of the world could embrace every woman on this day - not just the ones who have literally birthed children.  That every single woman - single, married, barren, childless, motherless - whatever it may be, that they would be celebrated as mothers.  Recognized for who they were created to be. 

Every woman is a mother.  Every woman mothers - she nourishes, she nurtures, she cares, she loves, she does things that matter.  My heart wishes every woman could not only feel the pain that they carry, but some joy too - that regardless of who does or doesn't wake up and call them mommy every day - that they are worthy of just as much celebration and applause and recognition.

A few years ago, I decided that if I ever found myself in a church again where the mamas were asked to stand and be recognized, that I would stay seated.  I want to sit with every woman who hurts, who waits, who wonders, who hopes for the future - those mothers are the ones my heart feels most like on a day like Mother's Day.

I'm sorry I can't jump on the Happy Mother's Day train.   I'm sorry I don't really love Mother's Day very much. 

But I am more sorry for any and every woman who wants a child and doesn't have them - who goes through the everyday without someone to call them mommy, to rock to sleep, to beg to make them waffles or makes toy car messes on your floor.  I am so, so sorry. 

I am more sorry for any woman, any child, who can't pick up the phone to wish her mom a happy day, or has no one to send flowers to, or make breakfast in bed or take out to lunch.  Who feels that loneliness and ache and void. 

To you, to us, I am so, very sorry.


  1. The pastor at the little church I went to in Garden Ridge was always uncomfortable with Mother's Day because he knew it was a hard day for so many women. With such a small congregation, you know which woman is all torn up every time a new baby comes in because she's been trying for years to get pregnant and which woman was abused by her mother and which woman fears she'll never get married and have a chance to be a mother. He didn't feel like he could ignore it either, so he'd say a prayer of thanks for all of the loving mothers and a prayer of blessing over women who are like mothers to children not their own (stepmothers, aunts, grandmas, teachers, nurses, etc.) and a prayer for everyone for whom it was a difficult day. I always appreciated that. I may not be a mother, but I have helped to bring up a whole lot of children. (Many of whom are now adults. Yikes.) Did you see that Anne Lamott posted a piece she'd written for Salon about not liking Mother's Day? People in the comments were all kinds of bent out of shape by the idea that someone could want to just ignore it. Why do they care?

  2. I have those same feelings about Mother's day, I've never felt like it was about me but just a reminder of how long I've not had my mom...

  3. I do enjoy your writing so much, Jennifer. Your ability to express your emotions has touched me time and time again. I just had to comment today, as I also have such mixed emotions about Mother's Day. I LOVE being a Mom myself, and now being a grandmother, but the feelings that came along with that were surprising to me ...

    I was never mothered. I never had a woman love me like I love my girls. It became clear to me the moment I joined the ranks of motherhood. Since then, it's been mixed emotions on Mother's Day. I love my little family but I mourn the loss in my childhood of having a mother love me.

    God knew, though, and He made me who I am today because of what I experienced as a child. And he gave me a loving father that I was so blessed by! But the cards and the hoopla on Mother's Day has always been difficult ... and I feel your pain.

    Thanks for being sensitive to those of us who don't fit the mold on Mother's Day.