Last year I wrote about why Mother’s Day gives me heart palpitations and this year I want to send a gentle reminder of some things not to say on Mother’s Day. This list is based on my own experiences and things people have actually said. It’s not meant to be mean spirited, but to be a helpful reminder that, for some, Mother’s Day is not a happy, clappy holiday. For some of us it’s the one Sunday of the year we’d rather be anywhere other than church. We want to avoid the shame that comes when the mothers are asked to stand and be applauded while we sit in our chairs feeling broken, like our womanhood is not quite complete because we’re not moms. As a foster mom, this will be my 4th Mother’s Day, but there were so many years prior when Mother’s Day was one of the most painful days of the year because of well meant, but tragically ignorant comments like these:
“When are you going to start a family?”
Josh and I were married for six years before we became foster parents and every Mother’s Day someone would ask, “When are you going to start a family?” Which is the most painful question to ask someone who’s been trying to start a family for years.
Let me fill you in on a little secret: If someone has been married for a while and doesn’t have kids, then one of two things is happening, 1) They don’t want kids yet, if ever, or 2) They’re struggling with infertility. So, when you ask a question like, “When are you going to start a family?” you have a %50 chance of saying something hurtful and a %100 chance of saying something inappropriate, because guess what? It’s none of your beeswax.
“I’m so blessed to be a mom, God must really love me!”
This comment insinuates that moms are favored by God. By this line of reasoning we have to conclude that someone who’s not a mom or unable to have children, is not as loved by God.
I understand the sentiment here, but the word “blessed” gets thrown around so easily in Christian circles it’s easy to forget the definition; sacred, holy, worthy of worship, divinely or supremely favored, or contented.
Those are powerful words and to someone who either desperately wants to be a mom or has decided motherhood is not for them, those words can be as sharp as knives.
Maybe a simple, “I’m thankful for my kids” or “I love being a mom” would suffice.
“You’re a mom too, happy Mother’s Day!”
People sometimes feel they need to remind me that I’m a “real” mom too, or differentiate between me and “real” moms, I’m not really sure which. But, here’s the thing, I’m a mom, just like the woman who adopted her children is a mom.
We might not have physically labored and pushed our children out of our own bodies, but we labored.
We labored not in a delivery room, but on our knees begging God to give us a baby.
In the dark as we lay awake with a hand on the hollowness of our belly.
As we received yet another negative pregnancy test.
In a courtroom advocating that we can be good parents to a child who needs a home.
We’re real moms because we get up in the night with our children when they cry, we’ve been vomited on, we’ve endured temper tantrums, and our hearts melt when our kids say, “I love you”.
“Being a mom is the best and hardest thing a woman can do.”
Can I just say that being a mother does not validate you as a woman? There are so many things a woman can do with her life and being a mom is just one of them. Yes, being a mom is great, but it feels like, especially in the church, that motherhood is put on a pedestal and held as the ultimate goal every woman should be striving for.
Sometimes the best and hardest thing is to chose not to be a mother. Not every woman should be a mom. Being a mom doesn’t make you a saint.
Not every woman has found the right man to start a family with. That doesn’t make her less of a woman.
Some women have decided they can serve others better without the burden of little mouths to feed. That makes them a necessary part of our world.
So, tomorrow as we celebrate, lets do it with sensitivity and tact. Lets remember all the important women in our lives who have extended love and support to us and our children.