I’ll never forget my first Mother’s Day….I walked through my garage into our laundry room and saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a mylar balloon that read “Happy Mother’s Day.” I immediately burst into tears, not because of pregnancy hormones. I wasn’t pregnant…I desperately wanted to be pregnant but I wasn’t….I hadn’t just delivered my first born….instead we had buried our second born only a few weeks ago. They were buried in a grave marked inside me. Their obituary was shared with just a few close friends. Only a handful of people even knew her name, or had even thought to ask.
I remember going to church that Sunday and barely breathing….I didn’t want to be there, but I also didn’t want to hide from my pain. What would I do, when the obligatory moment came “would all the mother’s stand up?” – would I stand and receive a few well meaning congratulations afterwards from people assuming I was pregnant when I wasn’t. Would I sit and by sitting publicly deny my own children? Or would I suddenly need to go to the bathroom…for like a half hour until that part was over…that seemed like a reasonable plan…
I can’t remember where I landed, but for whatever reason the pastor, although acknowledging the mothers in the room, didn’t ask for any of them to stand. This was a little strange to me, and probably somewhat offensive to others in the room. But I didn’t care, it felt like mercy, it felt like extravagant mercy to me.
When our first two children were lost to miscarriage I felt lost and overwhelmed by so many emotions. I knew only a few people who had ever miscarried (at least that had ever talked about it). I was unaware of any resources to help me process this tragic loss. And while I had walked through loss before and gotten used to the awkward questions, and also the beautiful extensions of compassion, support and love I received. When 2 of my children died, there was very little of this. (There were sweet friends, who offered so much care and support and encouragement to me. I am just saying that compared to another significant loss I had experienced it was not the same from people in general.) The silence was the hardest part for me. Because when I walked through loss previously even when people said something awkward or maybe didn’t say exactly the right thing, I could tell they cared and were trying and that is what mattered the most to me. My loss was acknowledged. But so many times when I shared about my miscarriages I was met with empty stares, or thoughtless comments like “well, hopefully you’ll get pregnant soon.” But it wasn’t just that I wanted to be pregnant, it was that I missed my babies, those babies. The ones whose faces I never saw, except in my dreams. The ones who I will only hold in heaven.
On Sunday we will celebrate Mother’s Day. And I think it is a good day to celebrate. I think we should celebrate Mothers because its hard being a Mom, and you should bring them flowers and let them take a nap or buy them a gift. You should celebrate your Mom. You should be celebrated today if you are a Mom.
But this year, as you walk into church on Mother’s Day, as you sit down for brunch at your favorite breakfast joint, as you gather with family and friends. I want you to look, look for the women who may be hurting this day.
The women who are waiting for their children, the women who have lost children (even if they have children alive right now), the single moms, the women who aren’t married and wish they were married and are longing for their children, the women who are experiencing secondary infertility. The women whose children aren’t with them that day. There are sons and daughters who have lost their mothers or grandmothers and the grief is palpable that day. It doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Moms because some women are hurting, but it does mean that we stop and ask Jesus is there someone you want me to encourage and love on this Mother’s Day.
Last Mother’s day, before church we went to brunch at a local breakfast place we love. That day we had a server who I had never seen before. We chatted a little bit and I found out she was a single Momma, who glowed when she talked about her sweet child. I asked her if she was going to get to celebrate Mother’s Day, and she kind of shrugged her shoulders and said “oh who knows, I have to work today, but its no big deal.” And I saw it, I saw the pain on a day that was full of celebration for so many. I don’t know all the reasons why it was painful for her, I assumed it could have been being a single Mom and not having anyone who would take time to celebrate her, even though I know she is a hero – raising her child, working hard, doing her best to give her child everything it needed. I left that morning wanting to celebrate her, and felt like God told me to bring her flowers after we went to church. So after church I dropped off flowers for her and told the person to give them to her and to tell her “Happy Mother’s Day from Jesus.” Because really it was Jesus who saw her that day, not me. He just asked me to bring her the bouquet of celebration he had grown for her already.
The next time we saw her, she thanked me for the flowers…because uhhhh apparently my whole secret anonomyous “Jesus drop off” didn’t really stop her from finding out who they were really from. But anyways, after thanking me she said “me and Jesus, we’re good now.” In a moment He had healed her, not because of who I am, but because of who He is. He saw her, He celebrated her, He was just waiting to meet her heart with comfort and love. I never saw her again.
Mother’s day will always be bittersweet for me. I love the day because I look at Caden and Finn and my exploding belly and all I can say is “thank you Jesus for these blessings that are above and beyond what I deserve.” But I will always think of my 2 children waiting in heaven. And on Mother’s Day the ache to hold them is always a little deeper.
I’m not a formula kind of person (hello hated math and science and loved creative writing and theater). So I always hope I am not one to try to over simplify something as complex and personal as a journey through grief. But… these are a few things I have found to be true as I have walked a road with grief, suffering and loss and also experienced tremendous joy. A dear friend recently explained to a roomful of Mommas that when her kids are having a hard time she asks them to pause and to Be Thankful and Think of Others.
Be Thankful and Think of Others.
Its just a good idea.
And it seems to apply to these few days surrounding Mother’s Day. If Mother’s Day is a great holiday for you and yours, AWESOME! Go for it… Celebrate… Party like its 1999 (uhhhh does this reference make me old????…probably…but not as old as I felt buying a pair of Addidas slides this morning and telling the checkout girl that I remembered these from my junior high days…she stared at me blankly…apparently she was probably a toddler when I was first wearing this style…although to be clear mine were ESPRIT brand and had rainbow letters…oh yeah…)
But all 1990’s fashion commentary aside….really party, celebrate everything you have to be thankful for! This is Holy and right. But take time to stop and think of others. Specifically asking Jesus “is there anyone I can encourage around this holiday?”
And if you are a person that is hurting today, I would humbly and gently ask you to do the same 2 things, to be thankful and to think of others. Sweet one, these 2 actions do not take away from the validity of your pain. I am not asking you to sweep it away and act like it doesn’t exist. With your pain, I would encourage you to go to Jesus, to say in the most tender place, “Jesus come” – and He will come, if you ask Him to come, He will and He will comfort you in a way that no one or anything else can. More about my personal journey with healing after miscarriage here.
Take time to meet with Him in your place of pain. He loves to heal us. He has truth and healing for every place of pain.
And then after you have sat with Him. Be thankful. This may feel like such an act of faith. Your pain may be so raw and deep that you feel no thankfulness and I understand, I have been there. But I encourage you to try. To say one thing out loud to write down 5 things you are thankful for. And then as I mentioned before “think of others.” Ask Jesus, “who needs to be encouraged today?” Besides sitting with Jesus, nothing has healed me more than in the midst of my pain, than looking for ways to bless and encourage others.
Maybe the bravest thing we can do this Mother’s Day, is to make space in our heart for thankfulness and to be the vessel that brings healing and hope to others.
Praying for each one of you today,
P.S. – What feels like a lifetime ago, I started this blog…I loved writing for it and had so much vision for it. God also used it in a huge way to heal my heart after my miscarriages. As I shared about my journey with healing, I met so many incredible and precious ladies along the way who were also going through the same struggles. After Caden was born I stopped blogging, although the love for writing has never gone away. I am so excited to be blogging again! If we have “met” before either in person or online, Welcome Back! If you subscribed for my email updates before you will need to re-subscribe if you would like them again!
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