It was Mother’s Day Sunday in 2010, and I was about 4 weeks from Elijah’s due date (although he would be born in just 3 weeks). My little guy was doing ninja kicks and flips in my belly throughout the service at church, making it hard to concentrate on much besides him.
Then came the moment they acknowledged mothers throughout the congregation, and the usher passed out a small gift to each mommy present.
When I was bypassed, one of the older moms reminded him, “You forgot Kishona.”
His reply, “Well, she’s not really a mother yet.”
I was a little surprised, a little embarrassed, and yes, a little hurt. My child was right there, with me, pressing on my ribs as I glanced at my husband, unsure of what to say. I didn’t really care about the little trinket, but to be told that I didn’t qualify as a mother when I very much so felt like one already…
I didn’t have to say anything, though, because the other mothers around me immediately came to my defense. They understood that being a mother doesn’t just start when the baby is placed in your arms.
For me, in my heart, I was a mother the moment I saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. That was the moment everything I did became about that little one I was carrying – how I ate, what I did, even forcing myself to rest.
For eight months, I had put up with nausea, horrible dysgeusia (constant disgusting taste in my mouth), heartburn, restless nights, and more recently, random people wanting to touch my belly. I had prayed over this baby, sung to him, and talked to him all the time. He responded to my voice and touch. I already knew a bit of his personality and could tell he was going to be a stubborn one just by how he reacted with kicks whenever I would roll over to my left side at night.
So, to be told that I wasn’t “really” a mom yet was kind of upsetting.
I totally understood that I had not had all of the “mom” experiences yet, but you’re not a mom based on your experiences or how old your children are or how many you have. All that might make you a more prepared or wiser mom, but being a mother is based on the love you have for your child.
Sadly, I was not the only mama overlooked that day. And while I was defended by the older moms, this mama was not.
Because she didn’t have a pregnant belly or a toddler in the nursery or a child by her side. Few knew that she had miscarried a little boy the year before. She and her husband were newer in the church, and even so, some women never share that deeply personal and heartbreaking struggle and grief.
I didn’t realize it until after service when I overheard her husband comforting her.
And my heart broke.
Suddenly, I saw Mother’s Day as I hadn’t ever before. Not just as a joyful celebration of my wonderful mother and grandmothers and all my hopes of being a good mom, too, but as potentially the most difficult day of the year for those unacknowledged mothers and those longing to be mommies, quietly hurting in the background.
It made the day more precious to me because it was suddenly tinged with bittersweetness. When you have something so beautiful and cherished, you want that for everyone.
Now every Mother’s Day, as I celebrate with my husband, our families, and our little boys, I can’t help but think about and pray for those women who are grieving through infertility, miscarriages, and loss, acknowledging them and defending their place in the ranks of motherhood.
As moms and even those praying to be a mom, the hopes and love we have for our children bond us in a unique way and give us a unique opportunity to support and encourage each other in our mothering journey. We may not have the same experiences and struggles, and it might seem unfairly easy or difficult for some compared to others. However, who better to come alongside us than another woman who shares our central desire of being the mothers God wants us to be.
This Sunday, pray for mothers – all of them: the exhausted moms, the new moms who feel overwhelmed, the moms grieving the children they’ve never held or will never hold again, the moms missing their own mothers, the expectant moms, the single moms, the moms-still-waiting-to-be, and even the moms enjoying the day with their families. They all need your prayers, encouragement, and acknowledgement.
Happy Mother’s Day.
“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.” – Ricki Lake
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