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Mother's Day...for the rest of us

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I've received some impassioned responses from people over the years that bring me pause before Mother's Day.

Some women have asked me to not do the Mothers and Fathers Day series because of their pain (reflected below). However, the primary purpose of this list is to resource church leaders. Many of them will use what is sent this week in their sermons, newsletters, classes, etc.

But, hopefully, these words will help our leaders – and others - better understand the couples who are unable to have children (one in five!), who have lost children, or some other pain.

In the midst of a weekend enjoyed by so many women with kids (including my own), there are so many who are not enjoying it - but wish they were. I'll let them speak for themselves:

From Julie: "My 16-year-old son was killed in a car accident. It's been over 5 years, but is still very painful. Needless to say Mother's Day is awful for us grieving parents. Please remember us along with the women who long to be moms but can't. We are moms, but some of us don't have living children. I do have 3 living children, but they don't make up for the one I lost. I try counting my blessings, but I keep coming up one short."

From Ann: "For Mothers' Day, would you include mom-wanna-be's? The infertile, those with genetic problems, the ones too sick to bring a child into the world. They suffer terribly on this day that excludes them, makes them feel like less than a woman and stirs up pain sometimes too great for us to imagine. Many of these women have led full lives giving to other kids, being productive in work, and hiding their pain. But they never stop feeling the hurt and inadequacy that Mothers' Day stirs up in them. Also there are women who make lousy moms, and they may not feel like paying tribute to a person who beat them, hurt them with words or let others hurt them. Let us support those women by helping them to mother themselves."

Wow, thanks to Julie and Ann for so eloquently stating what so many of us miss.

And I've received many e-mails reminding me of the pain many other women feel this week:

- Children who have lost a mom: "I hope there are some teachers or Sunday-school teachers who receive your list, who may think about the kids in their classes who may not have someone to make a gift for this year...as they see your note about moms who have lost kids."

- Moms whose children have chosen the wrong path in life (or, as one person put it, mothers of prodigal children): "My daughter is bipolar and is currently on home incarceration due to legal problems. My husband and I have had custody of her 4 y/o daughter since she was 3 months old. I feel very bittersweet about Mother's Day. I reluctantly admit that Mother's Day finds myself wondering 'what if' and 'why.'"

- "I had such a painful relationship with my mother that I decided to avoid motherhood for myself. However, I long ago realized that it wouldn't be right to expect the world to re-arrange itself around me. So I stayed home from church on those days, threw out the ads that came in the mail, and generally avoided as much of the days' acknowledgement as I could without being rude."

- "Post-abortive women can also feel pain on Mother's Day, especially if they have not been healed.  On the other hand , some of us who have been thru the painful process of working out our our salvation in this area, Mother's Day is a revelation!  Imagine myself, who aborted her only child, now able to to identify myself as that child's mother and celebrate Mother's Day in anticipation of being reunited with him!"

- "Let's also not forget the single women who wish for children, but haven't found a good match for a husband."

- "There's a group of Moms that Mother's Day excludes and society forgets: Birthmothers. This will be my first Mother's Day without my daughter (who will be 7 months old on Thursday) and it is getting harder and harder as Mother's Day approaches. To not have that 'proof' of giving birth and loving a child the same that any mother does (if not more) is a burden that MANY women in this country face every day. So, along with your prayers for the other mothers (some who have adopted our children), please pray for the birthmothers--that they would find some peace that can only come from God about their decisions and that they would remain steadfast in their position as their child's first Mother."

- "Please remember women who were raped only to find a few months later they were with child, and chose not to have a abortion, but to place their children in good Christian homes. When men break into a home just for the purpose of rape, because someone knew
that you live alone, it takes a long time to feel safe again."

Over the years I've received responses from those who have been impacted by reading these stories of pain - like this response:

"Thank you for that gentle reminder for those of us who take God's blessing of motherhood for granted. Even though I have been blessed with two very wonderful (and energetic) children, I am stopping to take a moment to ask my Jesus to comfort those who desire to have children and cannot as well as those who have lost a child they have dearly loved. My heart aches for those women. One thing I do know is that it is only Jesus who can fill a void such as that one. He is the only person who can comfort those who ache in this way."

And some church leaders, like Rev. Mark:

"Thanks for reminding me to remember those who can't have children or who have other painful memories on this Mother's Day. I try every year to make mention of this. There never is a year that goes by where a lady tells me that she will not be in church on Mother's Day because it's too painful. So I make sure we understand their pain."

And this idea: "In our church we make no distinction between mothers and others. Each woman receives a rose on Mothers' Day."

And from a pastor's wife: "Since the discovery of our infertility, my husband has become a lot more sensitive to those in his congregation who bring negative and sad feelings into church on Mother's and Father's Days. He no longer makes parents the focus of his worship service. Instead, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the focus, as so they should be no matter what special holiday it is. He also makes a point of recognizing those people in the congregation who had bad parents and who cannot be parents themselves for whatever reason. Since changing his approach and focus, he's had several women thank him for including them in the family of God, the family of the church."

Here's a wonderful group committed to help those who have lost a baby.

And this beautiful prayer from Rev. Jodi:

"I pray that the God of all comfort will touch the hearts of these women and hold them close on this day dedicated to mothers. I believe that motherhood is something in the heart, and not only the physical aspect of bearing children. Father, minister to Julie and Ann as well as other women like them and help them feel your presence this Mother's Day. Praise you Father, that you have the answer when we do not."

Unfortunately I can relate to some of this since my wife and I lost our moms and my son lost Jacob Michael Atkinson in childbirth

So, while I can be thankful for my wonderful wife who is an amazing mother to our children, mixed in is the pain of loss so many others feel every year as well.


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