In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, I noticed so many blog posts and articles about the holiday. Articles that attempted to communicate some aspect of mothering. Or lack of mothering. Articles on how messy motherhood is, how no one is a perfect mother, how someone’s mama actually was a perfect mother, how painful Mother’s Day is to some women for a variety of reasons, how we need to focus on this or that, how we need to have grace for ourselves as mothers, how we need to reach out to those without mothers, how we need to consider women who want to be mothers, how we should celebrate the mothers we have, what we do with stepmothers and mothers-in-law, how we should respond to a disappointing Mother’s Day. And this is just a taste of what I saw out there in the blogosphere.
By Mother’s Day I thought, What has happened? Have people always approached Mother’s Day like this? Can’t we just say, Happy Mother’s Day and get on with the celebrating?!!
But before I even finished processing these questions in my mind, I knew the answer to my last question was simple: no. We can’t just say Happy Mother’s Day and celebrate and go about our business, because that would be overlooking the brokenness of the world, the messiness of motherhood, and the hurting hearts of those around us.
I haven’t researched the origins of Mother’s Day—I’ve heard it was invented by Hallmark to sell greeting cards. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m sure that whomever thought this day up had good intentions. Who wouldn’t think a day to celebrate your mama is a good idea?
And yet, what I have learned not just through scrolling through social media but through my own experiences is that the expectation that women of a certain age will be mothers, that husbands and children will celebrate thoughtfully, and that we all have mamas is dreadfully painful for those of us who don’t have a perfect life.
My mama died when I was 20. I was young, but my 14-year-old sister and 12-year-old brother were much younger. Kara’s children are tiny. I watched them choose joy on Sunday, following their daddy’s example. But despite their choosing joy, their mama is still in Heaven instead of with them. It hurts. Plain and simple.
My friend who is struggling to get pregnant also chose joy and helped in the nursery Sunday, loving other people’s babies. Despite her servant’s heart, she still hurt.
My friend whose mother has damaged their relationship deeply and built huge walls between them chose joy. She allowed her daughters and husband to celebrate her well. But she still hurt.
I could go on and on, and I know you could, too.
Von has been interested in magic tricks lately. At four, he doesn’t yet comprehend a slight of hand or an illusion. He is constantly trying to figure out how to pull a coin out of my ear or make something disappear. On Sunday, I sat him on my lap and told him how he actually has already done the greatest magic trick ever. Before you were born, I told him, I wasn’t a mama. It was just me and your papa and we didn’t have any babies. I was a wife and an aunt and a sister, but not a mama. You were in my tummy for a long time, and I waited and waited and waited until one day, you decided you were ready to come out and be my baby! You screamed, WAAABRACADABRA and all of a sudden, I was a mommy!! You turned me into a mommy!!
At this story, Von got a silly look on his face. He knew I was teasing about the magic part, but he loved hearing about his entrance into this world. Then he wanted to hear about his rough start and his time in the NICU. Even the birth of my perfect-to-me boy was fraught with terrifying events and God’s asking Aaron and me to trust Him with our baby. Nothing is perfect. And I am not a perfect mom and I have no mom to help me navigate these waters.
Friends, our world is so broken. The truth is, it’s amazing that we are walking around in semi-good health getting along with each other semi-well. Imagine what Heaven will be like with no sin, no brokenness, no illness, no hurt feelings, no abusive mamas, no ungrateful children, no empty wombs, no motherless children.
We have so much to look forward to. And acknowledging the pain of this world is the first step in remembering where our hope lies. So, yes—let’s talk about broken hearts, broken relationships, broken mamas, broken children. And then let’s talk about the redemption to come, the redemption God promises, the redemption God has been working out since the world began. We will have our own WAAABRACADABRA moment when, like magic to our broken and confused eyes, God will wipe away all our tears. Forever.
Think about this past Sunday. What were the broken pieces of your Mother’s Day? What are you most looking forward to being redeemed by God? Who were the hurting people around you? How can you pray, with the hope of redemption, for their situations? How can you encourage these hurting people in tangible ways?