Mother’s Day is approaching quickly and while many will wait until the last minute to even think about gifts or plans to celebrate the moms in their lives, there are some who wish they could stop thinking about the holiday.
On Mother’s Day churches, restaurants, florists, bakeries, and gift shops across the country find ways to honor moms with children in tow, celebrating their dedication to raising a child. Women accompanied by children, young or grown, will be awarded applause, corsages or flowers, stickers, balloons, prayer and other gifts. Certainly motherhood is an honorable role, and we celebrate alongside these women as they are recognized for their love, care, and hard work.
For many people, Mother’s Day can be a source of anxiety, grief, and loneliness. While they may smile and gladly share hugs and gifts with the mothers in their lives, this day can take an emotional toll on many who long for a child, remember a child they once held or expected, or miss a mother in their lives. Often a gentle “How are you doing today?” or “I’m thinking of you,” could comfort and validate those hurting on Mother’s Day. Hard feelings surface when longing hearts feel as though they are overlooked, forgotten, or totally disregarded. Compassion and understanding go a long way to let someone know they aren’t alone or expected to act as if their hurt doesn’t exist.
This Mother’s Day, as we lift up the wonderful moms and grandmothers in our lives, let’s be sensitive to those around us whose grief may be heightened because of this weekend holiday. Here are five reasons to be a little more compassionate and to look for ways to honor those who may have one or more of these scenarios as part of their personal story:
Infertility or longing to be a mom: Women and men who are trying to conceive a child, facing infertility, or waiting to adopt may feel even more aware of their longing to raise a child when Mother’s Day comes around. It can help to recognize that a journey to parenthood is not always an easy or quick path. Instead of adding pressure to these longing parents by asking them about their progress toward their parenthood-goal, offer comfort and reassurance. Use your words to offer hope and confidence that when they finally meet their child they’ll be great parents, and reassure them you’re there if they want to talk or need help reaching their dream.
Birth mothers: Women who have placed a child for adoption often feel forgotten when Mother’s Day rolls around. Every mother who has chosen adoption remembers her child and cares about her child’s life, regardless of the circumstances or reasons surrounding her child’s adoption plan. Remembering these first-moms on Mother’s Day, even if just in prayer or by donating to help organizations that support these special women, goes a long way to let her know her story matters and her role as a child’s birth mother is an important part of her child’s story too. If you know a birth mother, lift her up in a way you know she’d feel acknowledged. If you’re looking to help a birth mother to feel loved this Mother’s Day, consider sponsoring a blessing pack or scholarship fund through a donation to the Lifetime Adoption Foundation.
Miscarriage or death of a child: As with birth mothers, women who have lost a child during pregnancy or through death often feel overlooked around Mother’s Day. Often only the obvious moms, women with a child at her side, are remembered and recognized as ‘mother.’ It helps to recognize a grieving mom’s loss, even if just with a hug, a knowing smile, or special note or prayer. Let her know that just because her child isn’t with her today that she’s still a loving mother with a child in her heart.
In addition, sometimes split-custody arrangements or grown children’s schedules can separate a mom from her children on Mother’s Day. If you know a mother who is alone on Mother’s Day because her children can’t be with her, include her somehow.
Loss of a mom or absence of a mother: Those who have gone through the loss of their mother may have a difficult time with Mother’s Day. For some who lost a good mother in death, Mother’s Day may be bittersweet, as they cherish sweet memories and miss hugging their loved one. For others who may have had an absent or abusive mother, there may be grief or questions that come up, even if there has been forgiveness or reconciliation with the past. Even men and women who have strained relationships with a mother currently may find Mother’s Day difficult as they balance mixed emotions and the desire for a better connection. It can help to recognize those who may be missing a mother, offer to include them in your day or ask them beforehand if they’d like to talk or if they need comfort this Mother’s Day.
Single women: Many women feel ready to be a mother, but want to do so as a married woman, raising their child with a mom and a dad. When waiting to meet a compatible spouse, the added pressure of a ticking biological clock adds even more stress and frustration. Many singles may deny or minimize the effect of celebrating another childless Mother’s Day but they may feel, deep down, doubt or fear that their dream will never come true, or struggle with jealousy over friends who have the life they long for. If you know someone single who longs to be a mom but hasn’t met the right guy yet, don’t try to compare a mother’s life to hers by saying things like “You’re so lucky you aren’t tied down with kids yet,” but offer to listen if she wants to talk about her dreams or future plans.
Being sensitive to the stories of those around us, even as we celebrate our own blessings and victories, will help those who may struggle with Mother’s Day. If you’re not sure if Mother’s Day is a source of anxiety or grief for someone in your life, and you think they may have one or more of these circumstances as part of their story, ask them, appropriately, if there’s anything you can do to help them feel seen this year. Let them know you love them and want to respect how they want to participate in Mother’s Day. For many, the compassion of an understanding friend, spouse, or loved one will validate difficult feelings and be a reassurance that they are accepted and thought of.