By Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
You’ve been there… That moment in church on Mother’s day when the Pastor asks all the mothers to stand. Maybe they include grandmothers and pregnant mothers. And you stay seated, knowing that that isn’t yet your title.
Perhaps you’ve had to decline a special gesture designed just for Mother’s Day, like a rose or corsage, because you aren’t yet a mother.
And with Mother’s Day approaching, you may even be wondering if the spiritual blessing of church is worth it when you have to again publically make it known that you, despite all efforts and desires to the contrary, are not yet a mother and cannot celebrate with other mothers.
You are not alone.
A few years ago, I was in a church service where the pastor lovingly (and tearfully!) paid tribute to his own mother who had recently passed. He spoke of mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who have given so much to families and children. He spoke to those of us who may have had abusive or absent mothers and perhaps were feeling less like honoring mother on that day. He spoke of mothers who have lost children and children who have lost mothers at a young age. It was a glowing tribute to all mothers.
In his artful attempt to cover everyone, he unfortunately overlooked the women who perhaps hurt the most during the service…
The women who can’t conceive, are enduring fertility treatments, or are waiting to adopt. All these women long for the opportunity to be called ‘Mommy’. They are doing everything in their power to reach this and Mother’s Day can be another reminder of failure.
Women who have placed a child for adoption or lost their children to foster care are indeed mothers, but without their children surrounding them, giving them cards and flowers to celebrate the special relationship.
Women who have lost babies, to miscarriage or stillbirth, and have yet to conceive again. They are truly mothers, but may hesitate to claim a corsage for fear of someone pointing out that they haven’t yet successfully been pregnant.
Women who have chosen abortion and live with the regret. This choice, once made, cannot ever be undone. And thousands of women live and suffer with the results of this. They too are in church, being reminded of the choice they made not to be a mother.
Women who are single, never having found a partner to share their lives with and start a family, are reminded again of unfilled dreams.
Right or wrong, at that moment it doesn’t matter, it just hurts.
So therein lies the question: “Do I go to church on Mother’s Day, knowing this likely will happen?”
My answer is simply do what feels best for you.
If you go, prepare for these moments by doing something for someone else – offer to help pass out the flowers, ask for prayer for women who may be hurting today, sit with an elderly woman who may not have family there, or host a special prayer time for not-yet-moms on that day.
If you don’t go, do something special for yourself. This isn’t a day to hide, but rather a day to celebrate the promise of motherhood. Take a hike, work on a hobby, celebrate the mothers in your life who may be friends or family members. Take heart in knowing, believe it or not, Mother’s Day can be a bittersweet day for women who are mothers too. And remember, your path to motherhood can change in an instant and every day you spend doing what you can toward the child you long to parent is a day you're that much closer to becoming a mom.