When Mother’s Day Brings Pain

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You’ve seen the commercial. A beautiful model opens her Mother’s Day gifts while surrounded by her three cherub children and her adoring and sensitive husband who looks like he walked off the cover of GQ magazine. Happy Mother’s Day, America. For some people, this may be Sunday’s scenario. For a lot of you, it won’t even come close.

Some of you are hurting. Mother’s Day brings with it a special sadness for a large segment of the population. The world promises it’s a day of celebration. For a lot of you, it will be a day of mourning. It’s time we acknowledge that pain.

I think of my friend in Texas who hates shopping for Mother’s Day cards. She said, “All the cards say things like, ‘You were always there for me, Mom. You were my inspiration.’ My mom wasn’t there for me. She never inspired me. She treated me poorly. Eventually she walked out on me.   Where is the card that says, ‘I wish things had been different’? I guess they don’t make that card. I always just buy a card that says, ‘I love you, Mom.’ And I cry when I mail it.” Her words still pierce my heart.

I think of the moms who’ve lost children. My sweet neighbor lost her son this year. A dear friend in Texas experienced the tragic death of her six-year-old a few years ago. Many of you have walked this path of pain. Mother’s Day becomes an annual reminder of the child you would so love to hug…just one more time. When standing with my friend at her little girl’s casket, she tearfully said, “Look, Lisa, there’s still some finger paint under her fingernails. We painted together on Saturday. I would give anything to finger paint with her…just one more time.” There are no words to share with those of you who have walked this path. To you I offer a prayer for God’s comfort and a terribly inadequate, “I’m sorry.”

I think of the birthmoms in the world who have placed babies for adoption. These are the courageous women who experienced the pain of personal loss believing it would be gain for others. I especially think of the two precious and wonderful birthmoms who gave birth to our boys. I think about what one of these women said years ago, “When I remember him, sometimes I get sad. Then I look at his picture and the life that he has and I say, “God is good.” To all birthmoms out there, I’m sending you a hug on behalf of every couple like us who are miraculously celebrating Mother’s Day this year. The words “thank you” are painfully inadequate.

Some of you have experienced the death of your mother. Perhaps your mom was the one person who understood you and your dreams.   When life was hard, she was the one who always whispered in your ear, “You can do it. Hang in there.” On Mother’s Day, you remember what it’s like to live without the one person who knew what you were thinking. Even surrounded by friends and family, there is a special loneliness. She left a void that you know will never be filled by another. So you relish in her influence and you smile at the fond memories. But you wish you could sit on the front porch with her…just one more time.

Some of you feel the crushing blow of regret this Mother’s Day. Your kids are grown but there’ll be no special honors on Sunday. No cards. No phone calls. No words of praise. You wonder if you failed as a mom. Maybe you were selfish, or chemically dependent, or mentally unstable when your children were little. And now you sometimes daydream that you can go back and start all over again. You wake up and realize it cannot happen. Life is as it is. Rather than going back, you’re left with asking adult children for forgiveness. You’re not sure how to do it. For you, I pray for courage. There is hope.

Some of you were great moms who did everything you could to love and cherish the sweet little ones God gave you…but those little ones grew up and rebelled. You had big dreams for your children. They settled for far less. And the world doesn’t seem to know your pain…or your shame. You wonder if anyone understands.

Many women across the world will be shedding the tears I shed for seven Mother’s Days in a row, until that wonderful year I finally became a mom. These are the tears of unplanned childlessness. Many of you have dreamed of being a mom since your childhood days of playing with dolls. Having babies seemed so easy for the vast majority of people. You had no idea it could be so complicated. You dream of swing sets and messy baby food and funny Christmas pictures. But when you wake up, you feel the pain of reality. No one calls you “Mommy.” I know. I remember.

Corsages will soon emerge and special dinners will be prepared. But many of you will take a few moments to find a box of tissue and a quiet place. You’ll shed tears of sorrow at what is or was or could have been. Happy Mother’s Day. You are not alone.