Today is Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day is a good day for many people. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to express thanks for the mothers in our lives, for their strength, love, perseverance, and endurance. I made sure to call my mom today and wish her a happy Mother’s Day.
That said, I remember that Mother’s Day is also complicated. I sometimes fall into the trap of associating Mother’s Day with a saccharine, romantic view of motherhood, all soft linens and loving hugs and chocolate chip cookies. But motherhood is not a real-life commercial for Pampers or Tide detergent. Mother’s Day is complicated because motherhood is complicated.
For some, their biological mothers weren’t available, either by tragedy or by choice. For some children, they celebrate their adopted mothers or grandmothers or maternal figures, yet feel a longing for their biological mother.
For others, their mothers were complex or even painful people. For some children, their relationship with their mothers was toxic, or embittered, or codependent. Even as they celebrate the ideals of motherhood, they wrestle with the realities of their own mothers.
For some women, Mother’s Day reminds them of a relationship that they cannot have. Some women are unable to have children, because of biology or circumstance. When they see mothers around them receiving recognition, their applause is mixed with their own heartbreak. In fact, I’ve heard that for some, Mother’s Day is the most painful day of the year to go to church, and that some women avoid churches today altogether.
And for far too many women, their time of motherhood ended far too quickly. What do you say on Mother’s Day to a mother who has lost her child? What do you say when “Happy Mother’s Day” serves only to remind her of the one she has lost?
I know that on days of celebration like today, I feel tempted to avoid talking about these painful or difficult realities, to shut them out. Yet those who are living these realities don’t have that option. I want to celebrate in a way that honors everyone.
So I celebrate those mothers that stayed at home and raised their family. May your investment into your children’s lives produce rich rewards for yourself and your community.
And I celebrate those mothers that have worked hard, sometimes two or three jobs, to put food on the table. May your children and society honor you for your excellence and faithfulness.
And I celebrate those women who were not mothers to physical children, but mothered so many around them. May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of generations.
And I celebrate those mothers whose hearts still break for the children that they have lost. May your souls be comforted, and though life cannot return to what it once was, may you find grace and hope, even in the sorrow.
And I celebrate with all those whose relationships with their mothers were rocky or nonexistent. May you have mothers this day to celebrate—if not the mothers that you were given, then mothers that you chose—and find your heart brimming with thankfulness.