It's Mother's Day weekend. Like many of you, I have mailed my cards to my mother, mother-in-law, and sisters-in-law who are also mothers. I will call and text my mom friends wishing them a cheery, "Happy Mother's Day!" on the phone. My kids will give me cards that they made at school and I will almost certainly get weepy and seeing their hard work and reading what they think of me. In a preview of my daughter's "All about My Mom" poster from preschool, she filled in the blank of , "I love my mom more than [blank]" with "God." Done. Niagara Falls over here.
But I want to take a minute to remember that this is hard day for a lot of people.
For starters, I am lucky enough to be able to call my mother and hear her voice. I regularly call her to ask about a recipe or to tell her about something hilarious that my kids did. But that's a joy that many of my friends are missing. Many of my friends have lost their mothers and I know that this holiday is painful for them. You never get over losing your mom. She sang you lullabies and kissed you goodnight (even when you were asleep and didn't know it). She bandaged scraped knees and cheered through every recital. She was the first one to love you. That's a bond that never disappears, even in death. To my friends who are missing their mothers, I'm holding a place in my heart for you.
To my friends who are mourning a child, my heart is breaking for you. Parents should not have to bury their children. It's not the way it's supposed to work. It's not fair. And it doesn't make any sense. And on this holiday, when we're bombarded with images of happy families all giving their smiling mothers flowers and breakfasts in bed, you're not included. I include you. No one should have to walk the path you're walking: to have arms once-filled, now empty; to replay videos of your child laughing over and over again because you can't bear to not hear their voice again; to be excited to welcome a new baby and stare at an empty crib instead. My heart breaks for you and I say an extra prayer for your lost baby and peace for you both.
To my friends who are longing for a child of your own, I am walking with you. I know that this holiday is almost certainly more than you can bear and you likely won't ever see this post. I know that you will probably stay home from church on Sunday morning because hearing the preacher recognize mothers around you feels like a spotlight is shining on your deepest unfulfilled desire of your heart. I know that every day goes by without a child in your arms feels like a nightmare from which you cannot awaken. Please know that I want it for you. I am praying for it and, even if we never speak of it, I am loving you.
To my friends who are single mothers, I see you. I see you working twice as hard to keep everything going. To keep your children fed, to keep a positive attitude, to keep exhaustion at bay. I see you working with your children to make your own Mother's Day cards. I see you with your laptop open long after the kids go to sleep because it's the only time you have to get your work done. I see you stretched beyond what mothers are supposed to do. I know that when you were a little girl, this isn't what you thought you'd be doing. But you're doing it because you love your children to the moon and back. You're my hero.
To my friends who have given their babies to other families, I thank you. On behalf of the woman who is getting to hold your child as her own and celebrate Mother's Day for the first time, I thank you. Thank you for enduring the nausea and back pain. Thank you for accepting the stretch marks and the labor and the C-section scar. I know that a Mother's Day won't go by when you won't wonder about this sweet child. You knew that you couldn't give your baby what she needed, but that another woman was waiting to give her the world. You are braver than I will ever be.
To my friends who are expecting their first babies, my heart leaps for you. When people ask, "Is it your first?", it's because we are so excited for you to be a part of this. Few things in life are as transformative as becoming parents. You are probably a little anxious and a little excited and a little bit feeling like it's an out-of-body experience that may not really be happening to you, but we fellow mothers revel in your wonder. Whether you're holding an ultrasound or paperwork and a polaroid, I am cheering for you.
To my friends who are new moms, I know you. I know the tired-to-the-bone exhaustion of having a newborn and the tightrope you're walking to figure out how to do this whole mothering thing. I know the feeling of hoping that you're passing for being socially acceptable when you can't remember the last time you showered. Or ate a warm meal. I also know that you're learning how deeply you can love. You're figuring it out and I know all about that because I'm still figuring it out too.
To my friends who do the work of mothers without the title, I celebrate you. There are many paths to a family. You may be on a path you didn't expect. You may be everyone's "she's like my second mother" without ever having a child of your own. You may be a father doing everything on your own. You may be a community leader who mentors kids after school. Just because you don't have a child doesn't mean that you're not a mother. I mean, look at history. Mother's Day in America originally comes from a group that formed to help local women learn how to care for their children (and actively work for world peace, by the way). Its founder was a woman named Anna Jarvis, who never had children of her own and fought against the commercialization of the holiday she championed. So, maybe you're the teacher or the nurse or the babysitter who works tirelessly to care for our children. Maybe you're the therapist or mediator or friend who's always looking out for others. You're a mother too. In that spirit, the mother in me celebrates the mother in you.
To all of my friends, I raise a glass to you. This mothering business isn't easy and I'm happy to have a day to celebrate that. (Really, I think we should celebrate that every day.) But today, I'm asking you to take a minute and think of the people in your life who might fit into these groups and send them your light. Happy Mother's Day to you all.