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?