Mother's Day with an Empty Womb

Yesterday was THE day…beautiful Mother’s Day. A day that brings so much joy to so many and yet in the midst of it there is sorrow that invades others. Sorrow from having lost your mommy not long ago, or from having a mommy sick at the hospital who is not expected to make it, or from being reminded once again that you are NOT a mom, and not by choice, but by the tragedy of being infertile.

The latter is usually the one that most people feel uncomfortable or awkward with on Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s because of not knowing exactly what to say. I’ve encountered this type of awkwardness myself. Yesterday, I mentioned to someone, “Happy Mother’s Day” they quickly replied “You too…” followed by an “Oh, ummm, ummm” cue red face here and the long silence. Bless them! I think they felt more awkward than I did.

I know Mother’s Day can be the toughest day for those lovely ladies dealing with infertility. As this past week came and I was preparing to find a Mother’s Day craft for kids' church and trying to find a Mother’s Day video to show at church, it prompt me to think about past Mother’s Days and as I did I realized that this has never really been a hard day for me. I was talking to Alex on Saturday and I said: “You know, tomorrow is tough for many ladies, I know of friends that can’t even go to church or go out on that day because it’s a painful reminder of what they lack, who they are not…I wonder why it’s never been tough for me? I really don’t know why it’s never caused me such grief as I know it does to others.” I also wondered if THIS Mother’s Day would be different as it was the first one after the failed infertility treatments. 

So, Sunday came and with it the bombarding Facebook posts of emotional statuses about moms and pictures of moms with new babies because this is their first ever Mother’s Day as well as all the other signs of the big day around me like restaurants with special menus for moms and on and on and on.

As I looked back I discovered a common thread…every year that I’ve had to face a Mother’s Day without a child of my own I’ve been surrounded by kids (I lead kids at my church). I’ve been lucky to be able to love on them and experience their love in return. Hmmm…maybe this is the way in which God was sheltering my heart? As I taught my lesson at kids church yesterday and the kiddos were making their Mother’s Day cards, I noticed that several of them made not one but two cards, one for their momma and one for me with messages like “Love you Ms. Raquel”. And that’s when I thought, “I’m a mother too.” Actually, I guess I've been one for some time now. Though I’ve never given birth to a child of my own [yet] I’ve loved, cared, listened and guided many little ones. And oh the satisfaction of getting big hugs every Sunday and little notes with butterfly or heart stickers, coloring sheets done just for me and fresh cut flowers picked right outside the church given to me as these precious kiddos greet me and say “Hi Ms. Raquel”. Yes, I do believe this has been one of God’s ways of sheltering my heart from the sorrow this beautiful holiday can bring to an empty womb.

Yesterday, I was so blessed to receive many lovely reminders from friends and family in a form of encouragement or in sharing their own journey.  Among them was a text message from a precious friend from church saying: “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you [after church]. But, Happy Mother’s Day! You offer love, guidance, discipline, friendship and wisdom to so many children at the school where you work…to the children at Generation Church, and to everyone around you that needs those things! You make a difference in the lives of so many, and that’s really what being a Mother is about.”

Aahhh…this is what so many need to take to heart. Friend, not being a momma and dealing with infertility comes wrapped with many emotions, many of which want to disable us and paralyze us. Oh...if we would only opened our hearts to allow the love of others to invade our weary hearts so we can discover that in the process of giving of ourselves to others our souls and hearts are filled up with so much more in return.

Believe me, somewhere along the way you have been given the opportunity to love fully, to care, to nurture, to invest, to guide someone…it may be a baby, a toddler, a middle schooler (Lord help us!), a high schooler (may the force be with you!), a young adult or an elder. Being a mommy is not contained in the miracle of birthing...it can cross the borderline of child bearing into the sea of qualities that embody the title of “Mom”.

Anna Jarvis, the pioneer of this holiday now celebrated in over 105 countries, advocated for this day with the mission to honor her own mother by continuing the work she had started and to set aside a day to honor mothers. And that's the thing, any person with breath left in their lungs can celebrate Mother’s Day because well, we all have a mom. She may be a biological mom, a stepmom, a spiritual mom, a mentor mom. And yes, I know, that this is the easy part of celebrating this day. But just in the same way that we can join in honoring someone we can also be part of the club of honorees because our hearts bleed the same love residing in any biological momma for love flows not from the womb but from the heart.

 So perhaps next Mother’s Day can be different. Perhaps we should spend the following year fully loving on others and being loved by others and as Anna Jarvis did, continuing the work of love our own moms started with us. And when Mother’s Day arrives again, maybe, just maybe, it will become a day filled with more joy than sorrow as we partake in celebrating those who have being moms to us and receive the love of those we’ve been able to love in the way any mom does.