Mother’s day has always been an emotional day for me. Each year I feel conflicted emotions and most of the day seems to involve tears.
As many of you know there were years where Cory and I longed for children and weren’t able to have any. Each of those Mother’s Days were crushing. I remember sitting in church looking around at the moms my age with their new babies, the older mothers with their teenagers and just feeling like, “What about ME? I want to be a mom more than anything in the whole world and now there is an actual holiday devoted to pointing out to the world that I can’t have this one righteous desire.” I hated it.
One particularly hard year we had gone to church (something we didn’t always do on Mother’s Day Sunday because I would get too emotional). The young men in the ward were passing out the ceremonial mother’s day flowers. Some years they had asked all of the mothers (and women) to stand up to receive their flower. Well this year they asked us to remain seated and one of the youth would bring us our flower. I waited. And waited. A couple of young men walked pass and one looked like, “Do I give her one….she doesn’t have any kids!” His friend nudged him and he handed me one. I didn’t want it, but I wanted to feel like I had earned it. That year we slipped out the back and headed home before the rest of the meetings. I remember crying and my poor husband feeling so helpless that the trial of infertility was crushing me.
(Since my incident I have heard of several other dear friends or family members with similar situations happening to them! Maybe they should discontinue these ceremonious flowers that bring so much hurt…)
Then there was my first mother’s day when I was pregnant with Gabe. Cory had poured out gifts and I felt like I deserved them. I was finally going to be a mom and I assumed that every Mother’s Day from there on out would be flowers, breakfasts in bed and I’d be able to hold my head high during those church meetings and accept my flowers without a shred of wondering if I had earned the silly little plant. Cory gave me a beautiful figurine that I had longed for with a mother, father and baby. I felt like I had overcome the particular emotion I had long associated with the holiday.
But the next year my mind filled with friends and loved ones who were still struggling with infertility, miscarriage, possible death of a child, etc. I sat through those meetings remembering my own feelings from past years and I struggled to enjoy the day myself. I ached for those sweet friends because I had been there. I knew that sometimes people’s well-meaning comments were hurtful without meaning to be. I knew that some days I wanted someone to reach out and hug me and tell me that they knew how I felt, and other days I just wanted to be treated as anyone else. I didn’t want to be someone that others felt sorry for or treated differently, even though my heart was broken and might have felt different.
I think that having empathy for people struggling with Mother’s Day made it almost harder for me. Knowing what they were going through made it harder for me to feel like I could offer comfort….because I knew that peoples words never really fixed the problem….I still didn’t have a baby. My arms were still empty.
I still feel this way on Mother’s Day. I know that the day is designed to honor our own mothers. And heaven knows they deserve it. I know my own mom has been a true life-saver to me in turbulent times. I have found that her friendship, listening ear, faith and prayers are more important to me as an adult with my own family than the physical care she gave me growing up. The emotional and spiritual support I receive daily from her is worth so much more than one little day of celebration.
But my heart is also turned to those with “Mother’s Hearts” all around me. The act of mothering to me is synonymous with care, compassion, love, kindness. Mothering to me is a gift; one that touches lives and truly heals broken hearts and ultimately changes the world.
For instance - the teacher at school that I watch as she hugs each and every kid in her class as they walk out the door and says, “I love you_________”, calling each by name, and letting them know whatever else is going on in their life – they are loved.
The aunt with no children of her own that gives words of advice and lives with love in such a way that I want to be a better person. As she loves her nieces and nephews and their children and is authentic she leads by example of how to change and love many who come into our lives. Her love and concern echo loudly.
Or the friend who lovingly takes care of others children as if they are her own when another friend needs a helping hand. Taking over support and care for others when life circumstances make it impossible for her to do so herself. Not stopping for a moment to complain, but serving with all of her heart.
The church youth leader who spends countless hours working on lessons to teach the youth that she has responsibility over – changing their lives and helping them understand the gospel, and even more – their own personal self-worth. Maybe another past leader reaching out to one of the “grown up” youth that she once had responsibility and lending a few words of comfort and love – letting them know that her love extended further than just her church assignment.
How about a teacher I recently watched as she spent time first thing in the morning with a few of the sweet girls in her class who didn’t have mother’s and she did their hair for them in the mornings before school. Her “Mother Heart” was working in full force as she stepped in and loved those children in a simple, yet life-changing way.
Or an acquaintance who reaches out and brings over a care-package when she’s heard that someone from church’s heart is breaking. A simple meal, and a note which makes one more moment possible to move forward. Not because she had to, not because she even knew the person well, but because her “Mother Heart” was in action and her gift of compassion could make a difference.
So this Mother’s Day I salute each of the women in my life who touch my life, the lives of my children and husband. I wish my words could tell you that you are enough, that you are amazing, and that you are loved. This is not dependent on you having your own children, but is because you are a woman! Women have a gift; whether they are mothers, grandmothers, single women, aunts, sisters or friends – that gift is noticed, appreciated and felt.