I have always had a strange relationship with Mother’s Day – it has held the biggest both/and for me of the Hallmark holidays, and this year that both/and has only increased.
Growing up, our family wrestled with the dance of how to celebrate my mom and stepmother and also honor the powerful life and legacy of my siblings’ mother who passed away far too soon (technically, my step-siblings’ mother, but we just say siblings in our family, because that is what we are). There is no perfect way to do that, and I think we probably failed on all sides in different years, but I do think the effort of honoring each motherhood journey is important because each story matters.
And this year, I feel the unique dance of the both/and in my very bones as I am carrying life in my womb with a baby due in October but also find myself still grieving our two babies we lost last year, with the due date of our second miscarriage being this very weekend. And I want to honor that my journey of motherhood carries deep loss and deep joy, and I bear the battle scars of both.
This photo is actually a very specific picture of the both/and for me, as it was taken just about a week after our second miscarriage. The joy seen on my face is real watching my wild son explore the world with wide-eyed wonder (a wonder that is contagious and is teaching me to see with newness as well), but I am strangely grateful this photo captures a belly that is not perfectly toned because I can see the physical reminder of a slight belly bump that was just forming – and instead of that causing shame in me, it actually feels validating and reminds me joy and suffering can sometimes coexist, and both make me who I am.
Year after year, as I am privileged to walk with other women in the midst of their stories, I have become more aware of the uniqueness of our feminine lens and feminine stories we bring especially to this day.
And today (along with everyday), I honor our feminine stories and am reminded how often Jesus would dignify and honor and elevate the personhood and stories of women – and I hope we, especially in our churches, can continue to do the same.
So in that vein, we honor, celebrate, and acknowledge these women who have made us who we are with their blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice:
- the sleep-deprived moms of littles who can’t remember the last time you washed your hair
- the fierce and powerful single moms who work and mother and father and fill a million roles at once
- the moms of teens navigating hormones and new independence and driving tests
- the adopted moms and foster moms modeling so fully the love of Christ that grafts all in
- the stepmoms in the trial by fire and often unseen role of motherhood
- the empty nesters finding a new normal
- the spiritual moms stepping in for all of us who need their unique example of the mothering heart of God
- the working moms keeping all the plates spinning
- the stay-at-home moms trying to stay sane
- the moms with great relationships with their children or their own mothers
- and so many more models of motherhood
And we also honor, see, and dignify the stories of those marked by loss with:
- the silent and lonely grief of miscarriage
- the pokes and prods and grueling emotional and physical testing of infertility
- the unimaginable agony from the loss of a child
- the unending questions from failed adoptions
- the strained or absent relationships with your mother or your children
- the selfless decision of putting your own child up for adoption
- the deep desire for children though life has not turned out how you expected
- the battle of postpartum depression wondering if you could still be a good mom while dealing with that illness
- the ache of laying your own mother to rest this year or in years past
- the misunderstanding and sometimes shame from culture if you do not feel called to have children
- and all of the unique stories of grief and loss that the word motherhood brings to the surface
We desperately need your voice in the conversation just as much as we need the voices of those for whom this day is filled with celebration.
I believe we as women are created in the image of God, and if that is true, then we have something to bring to the table through our feminine lens that is different than the male lens but just as an important representation of the heart of God that our brothers and sisters need to see embodied.
So today, may we have the courage to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep as we honor and dignify the wide spectrum of stories we hold this Mother’s Day.