Repost: Happy Wish We Were Mother’s Day

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Today I went to the gym (aka going on the elliptical and watching netflix on my phone for 45 minutes, then going in the hot tub and amazing massaging waterfalls and water slide for an hour and a half.)

The lady at the front desk said “are you a mother?” “No,” I said. “Why do you ask?” Mother’s get in free today! “Oh,” I said. I felt a pang of sadness.

She looked at me again. “Do you have pets?” I was didn’t understand why she was asking me this. “No.”

“Hmmm, ” she said. “Oh, wait a second!” I replied. ” I forgot that I live on a farm! I literally have hundreds of pets!” “Well, it looks like you’re a mother, then.” She stamped my hand and let me into the ghetto spa for free.

This little gesture meant a lot. Because in a small way she was honoring me on a day in which non-mothers do not often get honored.

First and foremost, every mother’s day, I try to not feel sorry for myself and remember my own mom. My amazing, kind, quirky mom.

Who used to feed us liver powder and v8 juice and yeast in kool aid when we were growing up because her love language is to keep us healthy.

Who has had 200 books from the library out at a time, for a six months at a time, until they made a rule up that you can’t do that, probably solely because of her.

Who looks 55 even though she is almost 70.

Who has worn spandex every day since 1982.(Because spandex are not a right. They are a privilege. My mother has had that privilege and has looked really good using it.)

That is my epic mother. And she more than deserves to be honored today. As does every mother in the world.

Every getting -three-hours-of-sleep-to-take-care-of-a newborn,changing-620 -diapers-per year, listening-to-a-million-questions, figure-out-three-freaking-meals-a-day-to-make, trying-not-to-yell-at-your-teenager, figuring-out-how-to-teach-a-human-soul-how-to-live-on-the-place-we-call-earth, incredible, selfless mother deserves to be honored today.

But once the honoring of my own mother and all the other beautiful mothers is over, my eyes inevitably look back on myself and I start getting sad.

I have always loved kids. I worked at day cares all through high school, college and after college. I work at an after school program now and live with 3 young children, all of whom I adore.

I worked at a camp for something like 5 summers, and have spoken at that camp for another 12 or so. At that camp they called me the legend. Because I was really, honestly, an awesome counselor. Every Friday we would have princess night where we would put on trash bags and talk in English accents during dinner, then we would let loose during dessert and give each other chocolate pudding facials followed by the best food fight ever. I would come up with really fun hands on devotions. I would spend one on one time with the girls, talking about their lives and praying with them. I would sing to them every night before they fell asleep. I had some of the girls for all five years, watching them grow up. We would write to each other all year, and I would sometimes visit them outside of camp.

I don’t know if I ever felt more in my element at any job. Ever. Not singing. Not writing. Not speaking. It felt like loving those campers was what I was made to do. Even now, I have dreams about camp on a regular basis. My counselor says it was because my psyche considers it home.

I would make a good mom. A really, really good mom.

But for some reason, motherhood has not been in the cards for me.

The older I get, the more I have to accept the fact that I might never become a mother. I might have to look for other ways to love children, like working with inner city kids or at an orphanage. That might be the path I have to take, one that I have seriously considered taking lately.

I have so much in my life. I have a wonderful career. I have good friends. I live with people that are very dear to me. I have lots of time to do things like get a $4.00 spa. If there were no such thing as a husband and children, I would probably be really content. But there are such things, and I have always wanted both of them. Not having them is perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever been through.

Sometimes I think about how much I would give to have someone call me “mom.” To call someone “my baby.” I would give up almost anything for this.

And so I grieve today, and maybe that is all right. Maybe it is not selfish. Maybe it is human. Maybe it is my right.

Years ago on mothers day at my church, a friend of mine stood up who has struggled with infertility her whole life. She said “mothers, you are amazing and wonderful and needed. Today, I want to honor you, but I also want to honor other women. I want to honor all the women that have had miscarriages. All the women who have been infertile. All the single women who haven’t even had a chance to get pregnant. All the women who have had stillborns.”

She had everyone in the room who fit that description stand up. I was amazed how many women stood up.

(She didn’t say this and I know this will be a controversial thing to say, but I want to include women who have had abortions. I am not saying what they did is right, by any means. But there are probably more women than you think there are in your circles and in your workplace and in your church who have had abortions and hide it because there is so much shame. They are possibly grieving today more than anyone else. We must remember them too.)

So all of you that fit into that category- this is what I say to you today. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are not forgotten. You may never bear children, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a woman. And you are mothers in your own way-to the children in your life, to your friends, to the people you mentor.

I honor you. And so does God.

I’d love to hear from you….is mother’s day hard for you? Why are why not? What has infertility/ the death of a child/ unmarried with no children / abortion been like for you? How can the church love you better in this?

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32 thoughts on “Repost: Happy Wish We Were Mother’s Day

  1. Ah, yes, Mother’s Day. Just like Valentine’s Day, this is a holiday when I think it might be best for me to avoid looking at Facebook. My newsfeed is filled with pictures of moms and daughters, young women with their beautiful babies, and words of endearment. All of which are wonderful, but can increase my longing for a family of my own and my struggle with contentment.

    I do know that I am blessed, and this year in particular I feel more loved than ever. Now that I am living in an orphanage I have the opportunity to love on kids every single day. Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s Day in Mexico, and for the first time I got to hear those words spoken to me. My heart melted when little Jose – with his big, dark eyes, irresistible grin, and ears that stick out – ran up to me first thing in the morning and threw his arms around me. “Melodia! Feliz Dia de la Madre!”
    Throughout the day I got hugs from children and was told, “Feliz Dia de la Madre” more than once.
    My desire for my own children is still there, but now God has given me these precious children whose own mothers are not in their lives. And so I look into their eyes and hold them and say, “Yo te amo…I love you.”

    • This made me cry. I think it might be something I end up doing, and that is why I’m crying.. Where are you in Mexico? How long have you been working at that orphanage?

      • I am in Baja in a little town called La Mision, which is an hour from Tijuana. We’re only about an hour from San Diego which is nice. The orphanage is called Door of Faith http://dofo.org/ and I have been here since March 4th of this year. I have no children of my own, but a lot of love to give, so I asked God to open the doors for me to work with children who need that love.
        Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, I can simply walk out my door and be surrounded by children. I am blessed to be the one to pull them close and say, “You are not worthless – you are beautiful and created for a purpose. You are loved.”
        My blog is http://melodyh83.wordpress.com/

      • I would absolutely love to meet you, Kate! I am currently in IL visiting my family for another week, but we should try to set something up. I don’t know San Diego well at all – I can get to the airport and that’s about it! But we could meet somewhere there or you could come visit us at Door of Faith. We host visitors all the time. It would be neat to meet someone whose blog I have been reading for so long!
        You can email me at melodyh83@gmail.com

  2. I’m really glad you wrote about this. I really struggle with Mother’s Day. I love my mom dearly and was thrilled to able to spend extra time with her today. The past few days though have been rough, seeing all the Facebook post with quotes about motherhood being the ultimate vocation, the articles about how incredible it is to be a mom, the sweetly scribbled I love you on construction paper cards. It all made my heart ache even a little bit more than usual. I spent time with a dear friend yesterday and tried to explain through tears, thankfully she offered no cliche advice and just told me she loved me. Let me spend time with her and her sweet baby boy and we just spent time singing praises to the Lord. I’m leaving in a few weeks for my first long term camp counseling experience, I’ve counseled for a week at a time with our church’s camp for the last 14 year and after quitting a job in corporate america going to camp just made sense. I love youth, I love pouring into them and I can do that even if I can’t be a mom right now. I think grieving today just a bit made sense, wanting children is a good desire and I know God has used that desire to drive me to minister to any children I can. To love the children in my life, even though they don’t call me mommy. I desperately want a family, a husband, children, and sometimes I ache for them, missing something I’ve never had. I was blessed today in two special ways, the Lord laid it on my heart to consider I wasn’t the only one who might struggle on a day like today (reading your article I can see that) and I thought of a wonderful woman at my church who has had a tremendous impact as a spiritual mother to me and I was able to give her a gift and a card and spend some time talking to her and we were both encouraged. Thinking on that, when you asked how the church can help, I would say the best thing would be to think about the women who have mothered you and honor them. Encourage children to think about their Sunday school teachers, their counselors, their youth leaders, women who pour themselves out as an offering in service to the Lord. We all have people in our life who are family in Christ, women who love us well, who act as mothers. We should celebrate these women too. We shouldn’t just offer them leftover flowers after all the “real” mothers have taken theirs. We should purpose in our hearts to love these women, to let them know that even though they do not have biological or adopted children, that they are not barren. Like you said God honors these women, and so should we.

  3. Oh Kate! Your post made me laugh and cry… Thank you. My heart aches not having a baby, and I have become the crazy aunt who shows off pictures of my nieces and nephews, haha. We have had at least 3 miscarriages that I know of, probably more, and I have dreamed often of the children we don’t have but both want. Mother’s day has always been hard for me though for church, and for years I skipped going to church on this day (and Father’s day). Our church this year did a great job on starting a series called “Remarkable”, and the first sermon was for mother’s day, so they talked on remarkable mothers. I think either my heart has healed a bit (we are considering adoption, as I get older), or it was a really good sermon or both… But it might have been the first year where I didn’t leave church crying on this day. At the end of the sermon the pastor said “we would like to give a gift to all the mothers” and I nearly puked with a “not again” feeling in the pit of my stomach…. Not again did I want to be reminded publicly by NOT getting a flower that I am not a mother, or that awkward smile that I get, “Oh you get one anyway because you could be one day” (implying that I am something other than complete because I am not one currently), not again will some well meaning maternal somebody in my church either pat me on the belly with a knowing smile or on the back with a conspirator ‘ whisper asking me “so when will it be your turn?”… And thankfully, it was not again. Instead he gave the mothers the gift of time and let everyone off early. Sooo… Thank you for voicing for us what many are unable to, ashamed to, afraid to, or unwilling to – that there are many aspects to this day. And, it literally has been years since we saw each other, but it would be nice to see you! 🙂

  4. Happy Mother’s Day, Kate. Thank you for “mom”-ing all the kids who weren’t yours, and for “mom”-ing all the kids that aren’t yours who are currently part of or who will come your way throughout your life.

    From one want-to-be-mom to another – with all my love,
    Happy

  5. Uh, no, Mother’s Day is not hard for me. It’s a day to honor mothers and what they do. I’m not one. I don’t get honored. That’s okay. And I actually think it’s dishonoring to make it about pets. Having a pet is nothing like raising a child.

    Every holiday does not have to include me, and I can make the choice to celebrate and honor others rather than think about what I don’t have.

    • I’m sorry if you felt like I was comparing raising children to having pets. I would never do that. It was just the woman at the gym’s way of being kind to me, and that’s what got me thinking about this topic.

  6. Thank you for writing this. I recently found your blog and this is exactly what I needed to read today as this is the first Mother’s Day that I’ve truly felt sad for not having a husband and children yet.

  7. Yesterday my housemate’s daughters woke me at 7.50am because they couldn’t wait any longer to give me my ‘You Are Awesome’ Day present. Then they gave their mum a Mother’s Day present. They cooked a great dinner to celebrate us both for different things. It was the first time anyone has included me like that on Mother’s Day and it was wonderful. It was also INCREDIBLY heartbreaking to receive a card that thanked me for being “like a mother to us sometimes”. So yeah, a very bittersweet day with lots of mixed emotions.

  8. I am a Mom and I have awesome daughters and a awesome daughter -in- law, but when I also get Mother’s Day wishes from children who aren’t my biological children, I treasure that. You can and I bet you do bring Love to many children, you set an example and most of all you let them see what it is like to be loved. God bless you.

  9. This is the first year I have struggled with it. Every store I went to the cashier told me, ” Happy Mother’s Day!” I thought it was really cool that they were making sure Mother’s were honored, but after hearing it so many times I began to internalize it. You aren’t a mom. You may NEVER be a mom. You may be too old to have healthy children….or children at all. Those are all the things I started thinking about on Saturday as I went on my own Mother’s Day errands. And after telling my friend, I just realized, I am doing this to myself. So, I dusted off my heart and decided to be thankful.

  10. This really touched my heart. I do consider myself a mom (i have a step daughter) but i have not had the privilege of giving birth. I have had 1 miscarriage And not been able to get pregnant since. I have been told that I am not a “real” mother since I have not given birth, and that had stuck with me. It has made me second guess myself. But reading this, all women should be honored, because as some point all women have loved and cared for someone, and that is the heart of a mother, whether or not they have a baby in their arms

    • I don’t get those who don’t understand step-parents as being parents for real; I honor my stepfather on Father’s Day every bit as much as my real dad because he was there for me as much as (if not more than) my biological father. I love them both, and they’re both fathers, and just because one didn’t have a genetic hand in creating me doesn’t mean he’s not my dad. If I’d had a decent stepmom, I think I would think the same of her–it’s an incredible thing, to love a child, no matter whether or not you birthed him/her.

    • Lulu, you ARE a mother- you absolutely are a mother and 100 percent mother even though you have not given a birth. All it takes for someone to get pregnant is to have unprotected sex. However, to raise a child properly–that is real parenting. I am a therapist to kids whose parents are close to having their kids taken away for neglect and abuse. I see this daily! These people have 3, 4, 5 biological children and have not learned how to parent this whole time and most probably will not learn it. Those people who said that you are not a real mother are ignorant and might have a need to feel superior. It is their issue, not yours.

  11. Hey Kate, thanks for sharing your thoughts about Mother’s Day.

    Although I am not a biological mother, I am a mother to my husbands two boys (age 17 and 14). They tragically lost their mom to cancer about 4 1/2 years ago. I became their mom the day that John and I married in 2011.

    Mothers Day is a hard day for them and me in some ways as my husband and boys continue to mourn the loss of their Momma. I have had to find a delicate balance for certain holidays, Mothers Day being one of them. It’s nice to get the recognition, because, yes, I am doing everything a mom should do. Yet, they don’t call me mom, just Melissa, and that’s okay. They have to be reminded to sign a card and give it to me, and dad has to remind them to “give mom a peaceful day” (i.e. no fighting). And all of that’s okay too. In fact, even though our situation is really unique, we’re pretty normal too. I think most dads have to assist their kids in honoring mom. One day soon we’ll have a baby together that will call me mom, and he or she will be treated the same as the two boys.

    Partly because of our unique situation, and partly because my husband and I know there are many women out there who are mothers that have never given birth, we make a special effort to honor all the ladies in our church. Yesterday during service we had all women stand up to be recognized, prayed over, and afterward ALL women were given flowers. It was a really special time.

    I honor you Kate, for your mothering spirit that reaches out to kids of all ages. It was evident in you the first time we met in Ireland. Thank you for all you do. You are a wonderful mother. Love you!

    • Oh man how I love those Ireland students…who are now grown up with families. I loved those times so incredibly much. It is good to hear how you are doing. Thank you for your kind words.

  12. I would say I “survive” Mother’s Day more than anything else. I’ve always had this “perhaps someday” thought about it so the day hasn’t affected me too much. Until last year when a good friend from church asked me how I handle the day and I just about lost it. She was ushering for our service and I had to excuse myself to go find my seat before I ran away in tears. It had never really significantly affected me until then. This year I went to my church’s other campus and another dear friend invited me out to lunch with her and her 4 kids since her husband was out of town. A sandwich at Culver’s never tasted so good and I knew what she meant when she wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and gave me a big hug.

  13. I’m glad you wrote about this…I guess I try to not think about the ache that’s there and tell myself it’s wrong…it’s really nice that there’s space to let that ache hang out and talk to me. Thank you.

  14. Hello Kate and everyone, I am from Europe but I now work as a mental health therapist in the USA. I am a 35 year-old female, never married and have no children. I am so thankful for the book on singleness you wrote, Kate. I read it and your words were so validating. Thank you for that. Mother’s day is extremely hard, like most any holidays because holidays are so centered around family. It reminds me of what I don’t have. I have read through many posts here and many responses. I am amazed by how mature people are here and how much they strive to count their blessings. I am truly inspired by some of the posts. I am having a hard time finding many blessings in my life, actually, and I am sure I am blessed–my issue is that my bitterness is preventing me from seeing my blessings.

    I am very bitter and angry about my singleness daily. My job actually makes it worse, I would say. As a therapist I work with parents who have, in one way or another, neglected their children or put them in harm. I teach parenting skills to parents who (and I am going to say it boldly as I believe) should have never had their children because they cannot take care of themselves in the first place. I have counseled parents who think it is perfectly fine to beat their children over the head with various objects. I teach parenting skills to (as my supervisor calls it) low-functioning parents who have 5-6 children per family simply because unprotected sex resulted in pregnancy. I do in-home care and I see that many of these children live in non-sanitary conditions. As a results of the children’s circumstances, I do interventions with children who have severe behavioral issues at the ages of 3-6 years old, such as they pull my hair, choke me, beat me with their fists or try to break my car window. This behavior is extremely difficult to undo. My supervisor even said about some of my cases in the midst of our discouragement over the lack of their progress that these children might kill someone when they are teenagers. This is a result of many factors, of course, which are not for this post, such as parents not having the very basic parenting skills.

    Daily, I find myself in utter disbelief that these people (these parents) have children and I don’t. I don’t know where God is, really. This is extremely hard for me and I cry about it daily. It is hard to condense it into this post but I am not saying my job is horrible. In fact, I absolutely love my job. I am just describing what is most difficult for me about my job.

    I am also from one of the most atheist countries in Europe. I became Christian at the age of 15 and was the only Christian in my high school. Majority of my atheist classmates are all married with kids. I don’t get it how this is possible. I simply don’t. Before I got my Master’s in Counseling, I went to seminary and got my Master’s in Theology. Yes, I need to rethink my, theology, I get that part, but it is not going very well for me because, I guess. I am pouting in the corner and I don’t want to talk to God because I did not get what I wanted and yet these people did. I wish we could just start a support group for singles here. It is just that hard.

    In your book, Kate, you said that what gives you hope you might be a mother one day is reading about celebrities who have healthy babies in their forties. That used to give me hope until I learned that many celebrities freeze their eggs when they are younger because they have the money for these expensive procedures. I hate it when I have hope but then I rain on my own parade. Sigh.

    I love your blog, Kate, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  15. A friend sent me your blog recently (because you’re going to Africa) and it’s funny, and about singleness. Anyway, I just found this post today. While I am so thankful for amazing mothers out there, I too think of those that have lost or have none at all and how hard Mother’s Day must be. It is a hard day-and-good-day-all-at-the-same-time for me also. I may not be the most kid or “babysitter” person, but I’ve had a few kids close to me, and when they call me “Auntie” (the Aussie term, even when not blood related) my heart melts. I’ve had “literal” dreams of being pregnant (felt real) and of my kids-with names, and I wake up crying when I realize it’s not real. But I still-somehow-hope. I was wondering if you still hope to have a family someday even after waiting/time? How does one balance the tension of hope that it may happen with maybe it’s won’t – and with God? Thanks for writing and listening.

    • What a good question!I too have names for my children…I feel like God gave them to me. I really still think I will get married. But the thing I have had to come to terms with is telling God that if it doesn’t happen I won’t stop trusting in his goodness. My view of his goodness can’t be dependent on whether I ever have a family or not.

      Are you in South Africa? That is where I am going! Maybe I can come visit.

      • I agree – His goodness is not dependent on what my life looks like or what I feel like. 🙂 I’ve definitely been reflecting more on the God of Goodness the past few months.

        I am in Cape Town, South Africa (from the States) with YWAM Muizenberg. Probably don’t have a music hook up for you, but you’re probably already playing around Cape Town somewhere – You definitely should visit. It’s gorgeous here! Look forward to meeting you. 🙂 Blessings.

  16. I’m extremely late replying to this, but this really blessed me. I spent the whole day crying this Mother’s Day. I woke up a little weepy and the tears started flowing on the way to church, during church, and all afternoon. I want to be a mom so bad and at 41, it’s looking like that might not be the path my life takes. It’s heart breaking and utterly disappointing . . . and nothing makes it better. I love my friends’ kids. I like working in the nursery at church. These things will never take the place of children of my own. And I’m okay with that. A broken heart isn’t the end of the world. Being disappointed isn’t a sin. We in Western culture don’t like to deal with things that are hard and try to spin everything so it “isn’t that bad.” Some things are just difficult and no matter how you spin them, they remain difficult.The Bible says He comforts those who mourn and binds up the broken hearted. Why would God promise us this healing if we would never know sorrow?

    I just want to tell people, “Let it be hard. Let me mourn.” If I can mourn, then I can heal. All the pretending in the world that this really isn’t that bad or someone has it so much worse (and I’m sure someone does), does’t take the pain and disappointment away. If I’m never really honest about my broken heart, Jesus can never really bind it.

  17. Thanks for this article. I am just shy of 45 and very single (as in not even a date in about 13 years). I also work as a midwife. This is the first year that I really struggled with Mother’s Day, knowing I will never be a Mum. I have struggled somewhat in my career too, and questioned why God would give me such an interest in pregnancy and birth but no opportunity to experience either. My married friends just say how lucky I am to have this time for me, but it gets lonely, and it is not always easy making every decision in life without a spouse to discuss things with. Whilst I am very thankful to have my own Mum still around, I still struggled this year.

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