Such an expression of grief that came from nowhere; one moment all the ladies were raving about how blessed the church was with so many pregnancies, the next all the attention was on my wife.
And all she said was, ‘I’m avoiding those women, must be about 20 of them, simply because it’s too much when we’re trying and getting nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for them, but [tears beginning to well up in her eyes, a quiver arriving on her voice] the pain of seeing them have babies is too much for me.’
It was a moment in a church small group meeting where the mood changed. Joy shifted to sadness as compassion arrived to meet my wife where she was. There were no clichés, there was nobody fobbing her off, and nobody tried to offer a solution… just a moment’s silence, as if all the women there knew exactly how my wife felt. It was a very sweet moment, even if it took a mighty amount of courage for my introverted wife to pipe up.
It was a risk of transformational guts that shook the meeting to a deeper, better, more truth-filled place.
Mother’s Day that year was tough. It was horrible. We couldn’t get away from all the joy of the event at church, but at least the church offered a remembrance for those who struggle on Mother’s Day.
It hasn’t been the only tough Mother’s Day. Truth be told, probably more than half of our Mother’s Days together have been tough.
It’s because such a day is somehow supposed to be so perfect, and it never is.
It’s because the day is resplendent with reminders of the various kinds of loss we’ve been exposed to.
It’s because we know of so many within our reach of ministry who lament and cannot connect with this supposed sacred of maternal days.
Anyone reading this will quickly identify in themselves or in someone close to them the slivering shards of pain that quicken an unforgettable grief to the heart on an entirely forgettable day.
Mother’s Day is unfortunately one of those days. It draws what pain might be there to the surface. Such days, therefore, are ideal opportunities to connect with people in their brokenness; particularly, in this case, women in many life circumstances, and men as well.
But will we go there with them? Will we look deeper than the apparent joy? Will we invite and welcome through the door of our heart a vitalising authenticity?
Of course, there are many retail winners on days many deem as forgettable. Sure, it’s good for the economy. And my mother always did say that Mother’s Day should be every day of the year, not just the second Sunday in May. Our mothers deserve more honour than being heralded as saints one day per year.
But it is to the women who bear an unforgettable grief on a forgettable day that this piece is written. Those who wish to be mothers who can’t. Those who live in the middle ground of a hope yet to be realised. Those who lost babies, or sons or daughters far too early; a grief never forgotten. Those who have lost their mothers; the living connection to the person who sheltered their vulnerable self through the formative years and who connects them to their matchless humanity. Those, too, whose mothers let them down and never met them when they needed them most. Those who cannot be physically close to their mothers or their sons or daughters.
I am constantly inspired by the strength that I see in my wife to step forward, particularly in those many seasons of life where grief was stark. The same goes for many other women I’ve taken note of who have attempted to do the same thing.
To each person stung by an inescapable reality, my prayer is you’ll be met by the God of your own creation.
Want More? Here is a Mother’s Day Prayer.