Mother’s Day is a struggle for many people. Whether they’re struggling with infertility or have a broken relationship with their own mother, all the attention placed on this holiday can exacerbate their pain. Would cancelling Mother’s Day help?
Mother’s Day is my least favorite holiday. There, I said it.
In fact, I’d be content to skip it entirely this year, drawing a black line through the little label on my calendar and pretending it’s just another Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, and I didn’t mind celebrating Mother’s Day as a kid. It was becoming a mom that really ruined the day for me.
I remember the first time Mother’s Day hurt.
I was in my mid-twenties and a little over a year into my struggle with infertility. After church, we went to lunch with family.
I watched as the other women at the table, who were all mothers, exchanged cards. When the waiter brought little gift bags as a small token from the restaurant for the holiday, instead of handing them to each woman at the table, he asked which of us were mothers.
I felt the shame like a weight on my chest as it was made clear—every woman but me.
I sat through only two more Mother’s Days like this before I held my child in my arms. I was so excited to celebrate my first official Mother’s Day, but everything about it just felt wrong.
When the pastor praised mothers from the pulpit, I felt heartbroken for the hurting women scattered in the pews. When family members and random waiters offered me gifts for my newfound motherhood, I could only think of the other women who wouldn’t receive anything that day.
When I opened up about my struggle with the holiday, I found many others who also felt their pain magnified by the tradition:
The mother who lost her son mourned him most on his birthday, the anniversary of his death, and Mother’s Day.
The woman who lost her mother just a few months before, struggled to find any joy as her own children celebrated her.
There were more, too—the woman still recovering from a miscarriage, the mother of a wayward child, the mom waiting to bring her adoptive child home, the older woman who could never have a child, the single woman longing to be married, the lonely grandmother.
For so many, Mother’s Day can be one of the most painful days of the year.
So, what’s the solution? Should we cancel Mother’s Day? While sometimes I wish the answer was “YES!” I think there’s a better way—one that offers hope for the hurting on this holiday.
When we study mothers in Scripture, we find that God acknowledges the struggles so many women experience.
There is no perfect 1950s version of a mom portrayed in the pages of God’s Word. There’s barrenness (Sarah and Elizabeth), jealousy (Rachel and Leah, Hannah and Peninnah), and child loss (Naomi and Mary)—just to name a few.
In His great kindness, God shows His love and understanding, not just for women, but also for the heartache and longing of motherhood. When the psalmist offers a song of praise to God in Psalm 113:9, he says, “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”
In an effort to prove God is worthy of all praise, this is the character trait Psalm 113 highlights. God is kind to the heartbroken woman. He gives her the provision of a home, the blessing of children, and the gift of joy. What a kind God!
Jesus highlights God’s tender compassion toward mothers in John 19. Even as He suffered on the cross, close to death, He thought of the heart of a mother.
His provision for Mary is one of the most thoughtful gifts Jesus could give His earthly mother: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).
If God values mothers and motherhood, then it is worth celebrating, even with a man-made holiday. But, what if this year we looked at Mother’s Day a little differently?
What if we extended Christ-like thoughtfulness toward all mothers, whether their arms are filled with children or obviously empty?
What if we broadened our definition of motherhood to include the spiritual moms who’ve mentored us, the bonus moms who’ve loved us, and the lonely moms who need us?
Is there a woman like that in your life? Simply acknowledging her this Mother’s Day for all the ways she loves with a mother’s heart might give her the hope she needs on a difficult day.
Jesus doesn’t define mothers by the offspring of their wombs, but by the offering of their hearts. So, whether you’re a motherless mother, a childless mother, a mourning mother, a tired mother, an overwhelmed mother, or a mother at heart, let’s join together in celebration this Mother’s Day of the Good Father who loves mothers so well.
I think that is a holiday worth celebrating.
SHARING HIS LOVE
This Mother’s Day, we have the opportunity to show love to the many different types of mother figures in our lives. Here are some tangible actions we can take:
● Send a hand-written card to a woman you know who has lost her mother or suffered child-loss this year.
● Include the woman longing for a child in your celebrations, whether she’s suffering through infertility and miscarriages or in the process of adoption.
● Intentionally look for an older woman in your church or community who is childless or whose children don’t live locally and offer her a flower or other small token of acknowledgement.
● Send a note to a woman who has been a spiritual mother in your life, even if it has been years since you’ve spoken.
● Have your children think of other women who are meaningful in their lives (teachers, church leaders, aunts, family friends). Help them make cards to thank these women for the love and care they give.
These simple acts have the power to ease the pain this holiday can bring, and, perhaps for the first time in a long time, help a hurting mom truly celebrate Mother’s Day.
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