I didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day for many, many years because it hurt too much. I didn’t realise for a long time that I wasn’t alone.
The day is hard for so many.
Those grieving the loss of their own mother.
The mother who has no physical child to hold.
Those who are estranged from their mothers.
Those who are estranged from their children.
The women grieving the partner they never met and the children they never had.
Those with mothers who are ravaged by dementia and don’t recognise them anymore.
The woman recovering from the ordeal of miscarriage.
Those who have never known their biological mother.
Those who gave up children to be raised by others.
The woman crippled by unfulfilled hope.
Those overcome with fear, afraid to take another risk.
The woman who has lost her child to addiction.
The new mother consumed by post-natal depression.
The woman counting the cost of fertility treatment on her body.
The mother struggling to get through each day, trying to do her best but feeling like a failure.
The mother raising her child alone.
The woman who had to bury her child.
The woman fighting bitterness, holding on by her fingernails to hope.
The woman struggling to come to terms with being a mother after a lengthy wait.
And this is only a fraction of those who will find this day hard. Whether you find it a day to endure or not, someone in your life will be struggling. Someone sat in your row at church will have a heartache because of this day (although, more likely than not, they won’t be at church on Sunday). Those people and their stories deserve to be acknowledged. It won’t stop the celebration of motherhood if done well. But it may stop the feeling of isolation, rejection, being less than, growing and taking root.
This Sunday, I will be at church. Not because I am now a mother and can fully appreciate this day. I don’t believe that. I will be there because our son will be baptized. We will stand with our family and friends and offer him back to God. We will embrace him as part of a wider family. A family where there are people mourning. It’ll be a day to rejoice for us but we will acknowledge that our season of weeping has lead us to this point.
The baptism will serve as a reminder that we are all part of one family. Each one of us, whether a parent or not, we belong to one another. So my sister’s hurt is my hurt. Her joy is my joy. And vice versa. It can feel costly to put aside our own wants and desires but the riches that doing so will bring are untold.
On Sunday, Elis will preach and share some of our story. A public chance to thank the many people who will be there, for not only coming to celebrate with us but for the years of weeping and waiting. Encouraging and praying. Hoping for us, holding us up and giving us the strength to be weak.
And they continue to do that to this day.
So this Mother’s Day, my heart will be focused on a new family. The family of the broken-hearted. The family of the hopeful. The family of Jesus who wept. That’s the family our son will belong to. Who is your family? Who is hurting in your family?
To anyone dreading Mother’s Day, you are not alone. We stand with you. Your pain is our pain.
“…so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10