Mothers around the world are soon to be celebrated. Sticky-fingered coffee mugs will arrive at their bedside, some with toast and some without. Misspelled cards of the home-made variety may well accompany a whispered kiss. Perhaps even a day off from chores or a gift or two will be added to the mix. It will be a day of delight that may end with a few extra crumbs and a contented sigh.
For some, the cards may not feature. Family forgetfulness or crisis or hurts will crowd out remembrance. For many women, it will be a hard day: a reminder of lost dreams or failed hopes. A mom far away. A mom passed away. A mom never to be. A mom never known. Every celebration in pink and platitude will be a stab at a wound already pulsing in pain.
Knowing that the great joy experienced by one is the very deepest pain of another, should we celebrate? Yes, but only quietly? How are we to know? How are we to celebrate?
It’s a question that plagues me from time to time. I get to enjoy the deepest joy of being both mom and mothered. Yet, I am aware that my joy is another’s pain. I wonder, often, how it will be when the tangible pain of loss will invade my own senses. When I am motherless or if I am mother to less, will the joy around me hurt deeper than I can bear?
I do not know.
But I do know that when a loss causes great hurt, it’s because its presence is worth great joy. And joy is to be celebrated. So I hope that, in my pain, I will still celebrate mothers. I hope that I will:
- honor the gift of life that came through the pain of birth;
- bask in the memories of joy when the tears are heavy;
- celebrate the friends I have for the life their mothers gave them;
- rejoice in mothers of the heart as they love another’s birth child;
- delight in those who mother in small and big ways;
- give: give smiles and hugs or gifts and words or acts of service and kindness, whether to mothers or daughters, motherless or daughterless…
And if it’s all too hard, too painful or too soon, that I will be honest and say, “It’s too hard, too painful, and too soon, but even so, it’s good and worthy and wonderful and deserving of celebration. Please … celebrate for me.”
A note from HHM:
Celebrating Mother’s Day when it’s hard is hard, but it’s also an opportunity to turn the day into one of joy for someone else. Bringing joy to others often brings joy to our own hearts. Celebrating mothers at the local Women in Crisis shelter with cakes and time, giving a gift of remembrance to a mom who has suffered loss, spending time with aged mothers with faraway families, writing notes of thanks to those who serve – these are just some ways we can bring joy to others. And, if there is someone who has mothered you in your life, let her know just how meaningful her small acts of care have been by writing it down. Tell her in a card, a letter, a list, or even try your hand at this simple but meaningful Mother’s Day gift that can be adapted to suit the mother you choose to honor: The Thank You, Mom JAR.