When Mother’s Day Casts Shadows

Mother’s Day- Sacred Yes, Happy? Maybe Not

Bittersweet Mother’s Day. This will be the first Mother’s Day without my mom. Some of my friends can say 10 or even 20 years without Mom. It takes on a different hue when the one you celebrate is missing. Mother’s Day gets colored uniquely with shades of sorrow for lots of reasons…

For those who long to have a child

I do not know infertility, but I have friends intimately acquainted with this dream-stealing, dark-colored, unexpected guest who kept them from expecting. I can’t speak to their ache, but I try to put myself in their shoes and I find myself unable to type.  Other friends confess they had big hopes of getting married and they remain single. They haven’t found a calling to parent solo, so they sit with a life that doesn’t look like the one they had rehearsed in their minds. It hurts, sometimes more than other times–but it can sting when there is no little voice greeting their morning with the tiny, yet powerful word, Mom.

For those whose child left this world far, far too soon…

I know a little about this, having miscarried two children in the early stages of pregnancy.  It seems to me that the nano-second I found out I was pregnant, my mind traveled straight ahead to the day of birth, then to their first words…what would their voice sound like.? The travel continued to imagine their unique personality–would they act more like Dad or me? I had them off to kindergarten in my mind before an ultrasound could confirm a heartbeat.  So, the words we can’t find a heartbeat hit me like a Mac truck. I named the first child we lost Scotty. I don’t know if it was a boy, but I will be OK with a female Scotty. I never named the second child we lost. I can’t tell you why not.  Naming makes it so real and perhaps I couldn’t have it be so real again.  Then time went on and it seemed too hard to name her…or him. So I’ve simply asked God to do the honors and I look forward to meeting them both someday.

I don’t know the ache of having lost a child after birth. There are no words, really. I think those who know a loss like this are the only ones qualified to speak on it– or write on it. I do remember the day my sister, Monica,  lost her three-month-old son, Martin, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  I was thirteen. In school when I was called down to the office and met by my sister, Aggie, screaming, Martin’s dead! It was December. That Christmas all we wanted was Martin alive. We tried to celebrate the birth of Jesus but the death of Martin was much too fresh. As a young teen, I wondered if we would ever be happy again.

Love is a brave thing to do. That’s all I will say.

For those whose child can’t say Happy Mother’s Day…

Having worked over thirty years in the field of special education, I am in awe of motherhood and the enormous sacrifices offered on behalf of children who do not follow any typical chart of development. Some who will never walk, some who will never speak. But this I know: though their children have no voice, they speak love in ways that go much deeper and carry greater weight than words.  It’s indescribable and undefinable, this love. But it’s a bittersweet Mother’s Day sometimes with the grieving of what will never be. From what I can tell, the sweet overrides the bitter. It’s a beautiful kind of broken.

For those whose child won’t say Happy Mother’s Day…

This one I’ve had some experience with. When you hear from three of your four children and you know in your bones that the one who didn’t call didn’t forget to call. It wasn’t by accident, it was by design.  Our wayward children are every ounce as much our children even when we are all but dead to them. I hold a special cup of knowing for mamas like that.  Mother’s Day reminds you in a sharp, stabbing manner that they won’t be calling, you won’t see them, you haven’t seen them for a long time, and you don’t have any reasonable expectations you will see them any time soon. Barring a miracle. Somehow, some way, the sweet cherub you nursed, and rocked, and kissed, and whispered I will always love you to has grown up and away.  So far away that you don’t really know if they are alive. You hope no news is good news. Mother’s Day can just be another painful reminder that you must have messed up something big for this to be your reality.  And your husband, God bless him, tries to sincerely console you with logic and math: three out of four ain’t bad. 

When your child walks away from love speaks more to this.

For all of us facing a Bittersweet Mother’s Day

It’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but it is the way it IS.  My answers are few. But I’ll number them with a hope and a prayer something will  help:

1. Trust Jesus. The safest place to be is in the center of His will. Corrie ten Boom penned those words. Safe doesn’t mean easy, but He knows. He weeps with you and speaks words of love into your childlessness. Sit with Him and get it all out–spew as you must–and don’t let go until you receive the blessing.  Just be open to the idea that the blessing may look different than you expected.

2. Trust your child to Jesus.  He created them, hardwired them, designed them before they were in your womb. If they are no longer with us, they are with Him.

3. Pray unceasingly. Whenever you are tempted to worry, remind yourself that worry steals your today. Don’t be robbed. Give Him your cares. Lay your Isaac (insert your child’s name here) down. Motherhood is far too difficult to go it alone.

4. Count your blessings. Hard to do sometimes, especially in the dark. But do so. I go so far as to promise it will help. Stick with it. It’s a life-changer, but it’s not a get-rich-quick-life-changer. It takes daily practice and then you have to string a lot of days together. But you will begin to see a strand of pearls and there will be light coming through cracks, and then a new day dawns.

5. Share your story. I can’t tell you how it works, but it heals us when we offer our story to another soul. They discover they are not alone, which they surely felt they were.  It’s a crazy phenomenon but when you offer your story to someone who is hurting– to let them know you understand– you help them heal and then it bounces back onto you and you find the blessing you offered has splashed onto you in equal amounts.  It’s like the #metoo movement. But someone’s got to be #mefirst.

I wish us all a Sacred Mother’s Day, knowing that we are all connected…to our own mothers, to one another, and to the world.

Sacred Trails to Us…

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