Thursday, May 9, 2013

Concerning Mother's Day and Church

I've been having lots of thoughts swirling around in my head regarding Mother's Day and want to share...

I want to remind everyone that though Mother's Day may be a joyful day for most, it can also be a very painful day for others. It is a difficult day for those who have lost children to stillbirth, miscarriage, abortion, or any other loss at any age. It is a difficult day for those who have lost a child and are unable to have another at this point to fill their empty arms. It is a difficult day for those dealing with infertility. It is a difficult day for birthmothers who chose to place their child for adoption. It is a difficult day for women who deeply longed to be mothers and for one reason or another, never got to be. It is a difficult day for those who have had a failed adoption. It is a difficult day for a mother whose child is estranged from her. It is a difficult day for children who have lost their mothers. It is a difficult day for children who have broken relationships with their mother. It is a difficult day for mothers who have children who have turned their back on truth. It is a difficult day for mothers who now have an empty nest...

Because this day can be painful and bittersweet for so many, I think it's very important that we approach it with sensitivity. I pray we remember these women who are grieving and hurting on this day and reach out to them in love.

I know that it's a popular thing to have special services at Church on Mother's Day to honor mothers. I also know that a lot of pastors ask mothers to stand to recognize them...okay, can I just say this is awkward? What about the mother who has lost a child before they were born (despite the circumstances)? Most likely, not everyone would know about such a loss - so what is a mother to do? She is a mother just as much as an other mother, even if her child is in her heart, rather than her arms. She feels like she is dishonoring her child and herself as a mother if she doesn't stand. Yet, she knows she will get questioning stares from others if she does stand. She's not a mother, why is she standing? 

A lady I know who is post-abortive mentioned to me this past week that several years ago, she decided she was going to avoid going to Church on Mother's Day altogether because it is just too painful. Another woman who longed to get married and have children, but never did for one reason or another, also mentioned recently that she avoids Church on Mother's Day. 

I have been considering not going myself because of a couple reasons...not only is it uncomfortable when mothers are asked to stand and I don't know what to do (I am a single young woman, with two children. Both of which live in Heaven with Jesus, but I am still just as much a mother as anyone.) Mother's Day is already a really hard day for me. I am a mother, with no child on earth to celebrate the special day with me. It makes my heart ache tremendously. I have been feeling so drained just thinking about Mother's Day, realizing not many people will say anything to me or even acknowledge me as a mother. 

As if the day isn't hard enough already, I have discovered that many Churches think it's a good idea to have baby dedication services on Mother's Day. This sort of service can be difficult for me on any Sunday, but especially on Mother's Day - the day that highlights my losses. I know I am not alone in my thoughts on this. A couple years ago, I was visiting a friend in Tennessee and attended Church with her for Mother's Day. I had no idea that her Church was going to be having baby dedications that day and was already feeling really emotional, with it being only my second Mother's Day since losing my daughter just over a year before. Tears weren't far from the surface that morning as I sat down for the service. But, as soon as the babies and their moms and dads went up front, I lost it. I started crying (really hard, I might add) and had to excuse myself from the service. Thankfully, my dear friend came with me and we sat in the basement of the Church and had our own precious time of fellowship and remembering my girl. I can imagine such services would be hard not only for people who have lost babies, but those dealing with infertility, among other things. My Church will be having a service like this on Mother's Day and I have been struggling all week with whether or not I should go. I want to be there, but will it be too much? These babies need to be honored and celebrated, but why not have a day all their own, rather than joining up with Mother's Day?

The thing is, Mother's Day is not a Church holiday. It is a Hallmark holiday...and if we want to get technical here, most people don't realize that Mother's Day was started by a woman named Anna Jarvis who wanted to honor her mother who experienced the death of seven of her children! Somehow through the years, Mother's Day has turned into a commercialized mess that card companies make millions of dollars from, but the worst thing is that bereaved mothers are completely forgotten! If we want to honor the true meaning of Mother's Day, why not use it as a day set-apart to honor those who have lost a child?

I want to mention that just because Mother's Day is difficult for someone doesn't mean they are not healed or coping well. No matter how many more children I may have in the future, Mother's Day will always be a bittersweet day for me.

I am just sharing my heart here and hope to have not come across as too know-it-all or offensive to anyone. This is how I've felt/feel and how I've found many others feel as well. Mother's Day can be a special day to honor mothers, without excluding non-mothers and those who are mourning.

Please, please take the time to read this post: An open letter to pastors {a non mom speaks about Mother's Day} and this one: 10 ideas for pastors on Mother's Day. The writer offers beautiful words on this sensitive subject.

On this Mother's Day, I want to acknowledge, love, and support mothers of all kinds...those who hold some, if not all, their children in their hearts, rather than their arms, birthmothers who placed their child for adoption, foster-care mothers, spiritual mothers, adoptive mothers, single mothers, step-mothers, and expectant mothers (I apologize if I've left anyone out). I also want to acknowledge the women who never got to be mothers, though they longed to be.

This flower is for all mothers - traditional and non-traditional. 
Much love on this day!

I want to encourage people to reach out to mothers who are in all sorts of difficult/different circumstances which make Mother's Day hard for them. Pray and ask God how to reach out to them, either by sending them a card to let them know you are thinking of them, or whatever else it may be. Doing something is better than doing nothing...



  1. Hi Hannah, Thank you for posting this. I am a childless/infertile momma and we cant have children, nor can we adopt. Each MD is hard for me, b/c I dont have a baby, and yes, there have been some years when I havent gone to church, because it is too hard. I have quickly read through your blog, and thank you for telling your story.

  2. I would break down and cry at church service on Mother's Day after James Collins, Jr died. After two years of this, I started keeping the nursery on Mother's Day. It has worked for me.


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