Updated: May 1
Mother’s Day plagued me for years.
I avoided church on Mother’s Day weekend because I knew the mothers would be invited to stand and be recognized with flowers, while I would stay seated holding back tears.
Occasionally, I would get a left-over flower from a well meaning church member coupled with a statement along the lines of, “for when you really are a mother.”
The questions of, “when are you going to have children?” or “why don’t you want kids?” always crushed me so much more than I let on.
At first, Mother’s Day was heartbreaking because I desired a child with every fiber of my being, and yet I was barren.
Then, when I finally saw the double pink lines, it ended multiple times in the depths of despair wrapped in the words “miscarriage” and “loss”.
The fertility treatments gave me a glimmer of hope but still left my arms empty.
Then, after 11 years of marriage, I was blessed with my first full-term pregnancy and the gift of my beautiful son.
I now hold my second son almost four years later, following yet another traumatic loss.
I have carried seven babies over the course of six pregnancies and count it a blessing to have two sons I can hold. I know I’m not the only one who shares the overwhelming, extensive, intense, and sometimes debilitating pain of intense desire and loss.
My story may not match everyone’s, but I recognize Mother’s Day brings joy to many and a deep sadness to others.
Even though I no longer avoid church on Mother’s Day, I am deeply sensitive for those who are not recognized by the typical mother “standards” and stay seated without a flower.
So, on Mother’s Day, I want you to know you are seen and I offer this flower to you:
To those who cannot bear their own children and deeply desire to be a mother.
To those in the throws of fertility treatments and can’t see the end in sight.
To those who have lost their sweet babies through the intense loss and grief of miscarriage or stillbirth.
To those who would love to be a wife and mother and have not yet found their spouse.
To those who choose not to be a biological mother, yet choose to love others as a mother would.
To those who have their own children, but only after years of experiencing the exhausting monthly cycle of hope and despair.
To those who have children outside of the biological process through adoption, and experience the extra emotions and struggles that accompany that gift.
To those who give the love of motherhood through foster care and continually wonder when their love will be sent away yet again.
To those whose adult children no longer treat them as mothers over a rift that has caused such pain.
To those whose children cannot thank them for countless hours of love and care due to disabilities.
To those who are pregnant right now and desperately want to celebrate Mother’s Day but don’t want to retract their happy announcement if things don’t go well, so remain silent.
To those who held their little ones close and lost them far too early.
To those who have never held their own children, but have held those of others with the depth of a mother’s love.
To all of you, I give this flower.
You are precious, you are seen, and you are not alone.
We are all part of the human family, and you are a mother to someone.
I recognize this blog post is outside of the norm, and if we are to be “with” our team as an authentic leader we must be sensitive to the intensity of emotion our people are experiencing.
If you are leading a team with women who are not mothers, make sure to include them this time of year, too. The likelihood of deep emotion is high - don’t ignore it.