As Mother’s Day approached, our family was closing in on the one-year anniversary of our daughter’s birth and death day. My emotions were all over the place. Even though I still had a living child, my heart ached for Kylie. My grieving process was still very real and highly unpredictable. Before church, my husband reminded me of the annual Baby Dedication at our church that morning. As instant nausea set in I froze.
“I’m not ready God!”
I was filled with uneasy anticipation, not knowing what I may or may not feel. When the dedication began, it took everything in me to remain seated, while tears streamed down my face. While I was genuinely happy for my friends celebrating their children, my heart was raw and broken.
I was a Mother living two extremes. Celebrating one child on Earth, while grieving one child in Heaven. Did that make me ungrateful for what I could still hold in my arms? No way! This was simply where I was in my stage of grief.
This Sunday, churches will be filled with sweet mementos of motherhood. Pastors will call upon mom’s to stand, receive a flower, a gift, or a picture drawn from their children. Unfortunately, on this same day women all over this country will suffer, often times in silence. They will force their smile and hold back tears.
These are women who:
Chose an abortion.
Chose an adoption plan.
Are single and desire more than anything to be a mom.
Experienced pre-term delivery leading to infant death.
Gave birth to a child still-born.
Are in a custody battle.
Have had their children removed from their custody.
Are in the process of adopting.
Experienced a failed adoption.
Are a step-parent.
Struggle with infertility.
Experienced the sudden and tragic loss of their child.
Have a missing child.
Woke up one morning to find their child lifeless.
Have a wayward child.
Are currently watching their son or daughter die due to cancer, disease, abnormality, or infection.
Are grieving the death of their own mother.
As a church community, should we stop celebrating Mother’s Day in churches to avoid upsetting women who fall into the above (non-exhaustive) categories? No. But, with a little compromise, we can still make the non-traditional mom feel special on Mother’s Day by following these two suggestions:
1) Pastors: As you lead services this Sunday, PLEASE be mindful of the women who might be hurting. If you recognize moms on Mother’s Day, please consider recognizing the non-traditional mom as well. Perhaps you could say: “As we honor and recognize all mom’s day, we know there are many women here today who are hurting. Some of you may have children in Heaven, are unable to be with your children today, or are grieving the loss of your own mother. Know that we love you, and are so glad you joined us this morning!”
2) Family and Friends: Call, text, Facebook, email, write a card, or find a tangible action to reach out to the women in your life who are hurting. Let her know you love her, are thinking about her, and are praying for her. Acknowledge her pain, even if it is uncomfortable for you. Allow her to talk about her thoughts and feelings if she wants to. You may be one of few, or perhaps the only person who recognizes her today.
Q. Are you a Non-Traditional Mom? If so, what can someone do this Mother’s Day to make YOU feel special?