Mother’s Day isn’t a sunny flower-filled day for a lot of women. You may be an empathetic soul and understand that certain women (those struggling with infertility and those who have lost a child) will have a hard time on Sunday. But did you know that there are others for whom Mother’s Day hurts?
It’s not hard to notice who finds it difficult, especially in church. Some women will be absent that day. Some women will go with pasted-on smiles. Some will sit in the back, with swollen eyes.
By contrast, notice the beaming moms with corsages. They have what most other women wish they had: a husband who encourages them and children who appreciate them, at least that one day out of the year.
Mother’s Day is difficult for women with regrets. They see their own failures as a mother. They wish their mother had been a better mom. They never knew a mother’s love. They grieve for their mother who died. Not only women, but men too, can share these regrets.
It’s difficult for women who never had a chance at motherhood. They are the single women, often longing to get married and become a mom, but refusing to settle. They agree that motherhood is a holy calling and appreciate the sacrifices moms make. They continue to wait for God’s choice, not sure why He’s withholding. What about them? Until they’re blessed with the wife and mother status, they’re often treated second-class in our churches.
Are women any less valuable because they haven’t given birth? Or because they haven’t been the sainted example held up in Mother’s Day sermons? Has anyone ever lived up to that perfect vision? (Have you?)
When I’ve posted about this subject in the past, I’ve received emails from women who pour out their raw pain to me. And I’ve heard from happy moms who don’t get it, and often don’t want to get it. I feel like I’ve stepped onto sacred ground. I’ve heard people say, “Well, they just need to get over it.” “They’re just bitter.” “Why should we change things to cater to a few?” Really? At the risk of ruffling feathers – something I’ve never backed down from doing — I’m going to continue to beat this drum.
And offer practical ideas to turn this day into something good. Or at least bearable.
If you want to minister to all women on Mother’s Day (bless you!), some tips are:
- Don’t say “Happy Mother’s Day” to a woman unless you know she’s a mother and you know it’s happy. (I never know how to respond when I get those greetings.)
- Be inclusive. If you give out flowers, give them to all women. And just say “Thanks.” Nothing more needs to be said.
- Don’t ask mothers to stand. Older single women feel like outcasts. Young teenage moms feel judged.
- Appreciate the myriad ways any woman can mother, love, and nurture a child or disciple a young woman.
- Do something to serve single moms. Have people in church sign up to offer their skills: babysitting, handyman help, cooking, or car repair. Better yet, ask her what she needs.
- Invite single women over for lunch. See if you can go the whole meal without using the word “mother.”
- Buck the commercialization and celebrate International Women’s Day instead – a day for all women regardless of reproductive status–on March 8 each year.
If you personally struggle on Mother’s Day, you can be pro-active:
- Be kind to yourself that day. Don’t go to church if it’s hard. I’m taking my Mom to the Biltmore House (think Downton Abbey costumes and tulips). We have to be there early to take advantage of a free ticket, so I have to skip church (oh, rats!).
- Get away to a beautiful spot in nature, or at least a cozy corner, for some extended time alone with the Lord.
- Pour out your heart to Him — the pain, the anger, the questions. He knows it all anyway.
- Invite God to enter into your heart ache. Allow Him to comfort you as only He can. People may not get it, but He gets it. And He cares.
- When I feel lonely, the best antidote is to reach out to others. Write a note, or call, the women who have modeled to you how to be a woman of God. Thank them for their loving, vital role.
- If you do go to church, look for other women who are struggling. Hug them. Words are not necessary.