In our house, my husband and I really don’t get into celebrating the so-called “Hallmark” holidays. Mother’s Day is generally included in that list, along with Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
It’s not like we don’t value each other, or our parents, but we just don’t spend much energy (or money) to mark those set-aside dates.
So when I found a little white box with a navy ribbon at my place at the breakfast table, I was surprised. I knew I’d receive some token of appreciation, but I figured it would come in the form of a hand-drawn card or maybe muffins and eggs.
So a neatly wrapped gift made me a little jittery.
I remembered mentioning months ago how I would like to have some sort of mother-jewelry…and then, there it was. In the box was a mother’s bracelet with three birthstones to represent my babies.
But instead of my heart overflowing with joy, it hurt.
I wasn’t anticipating that sort of reaction, and neither was my family, so I put on a smile and the bracelet, and thanked all the eager faces.
And then I was mad at myself. Really, what was wrong with me? I received a beautiful gift, something I had been wanting, and I was upset. Something didn’t add up.
It took some processing to really understand. For my mother’s heart, the jewelry was missing two stones. There was a diamond for our April birthday, an emerald for our May birthday, and peridot for our August birthday. That’s the correct head count. But it didn’t include two little ones who never made it to my arms.
And that made me sad.
So I went to church a little down, even though I was accompanied by my beautiful kids.
But instead of the traditional Mother’s Day service I expected, there was word for my aching heart. Our pastor validated the feelings of hurt, frustration, disappointment and anger Mother’s Day can evoke in different situations.
Some women long to be mothers, but for various reasons, it hasn’t happened.
Some women, like my mom, have experienced the death of a child.
Some women no longer have a mom to celebrate.
Some women, myself included, have grieved the loss of pregnancies.
And while a specific date to celebrate mom surely has its place, it can also be overwhelming.
So it was with gratitude that I experienced a new approach to Mother’s Day in our sanctuary. Rather than handing out a rose to the newest mother, the oldest mother, the mother with the most children, and so on, our pastor embraced the nurturing qualities of motherhood by asking all women who have made an impact on a child to stand.
Suddenly, women who are childless stood at the same time as women with a brood of children. Single women stood at the same time as married women. Grandmothers stood at the same time as college students. The common tie was not birthing a baby, but giving of time.
And when it comes to children, that selfless serving is what can and does make a difference.