Mother's Day is a difficult day for lots of people. While most people celebrate their mothers or being a mother, for someone walking through infertility it can be a nightmare as we consider how to manage emotions. Church can be the hardest part of it all, unfortunately. Services are oriented to honor the oldest mother, the youngest mother, or the mother with the most children.; all mothers are asked to stand....while the infertile woman ducks her head, being one of the only women (if not THE only woman, as is my case) in church still seated in her pew. I am not a man, but I can imagine how difficult it must be for men when the same event is repeated on Father's Day.
To avoid pitying myself (something I do way too much!) I have tried to spend the past few years focusing on my OWN mother and grandmothers....remembering to be thankful for the gifts that they are. Last year, I handled myself rather well during church, although I fought tears when my husband (the pastor) asked the mothers at church to stand so we could pray for them. (Thankfully, being a man who longs to be a father, my husband is very sensitive and does not make a big deal out of either parent-oriented holiday.) I survived the day last year, mostly impart to a phone call from my grandmother. My grandmother called to thank me for her Mother's Day card, but also to tell me that she was praying for me all day long.
She, too, knows infertility very well. After seven years of trying to get pregnant, my grandmother accepted the probability that she would never conceive. She and my grandfather adopted my dad as a three month old baby. He was the joy of their lives; they could not have been happier. It was four years later (so that would be eleven years of infertility), my grandmother went to the doctor with an upset stomach. She was, however, pregnant! A miracle! My aunt is a testimony to the fact that God can do the impossible. But....my grandmother likely spent many Mother's Days grieving in her heart. In the 1950's, infertility was little-understood and probably rarely talked about. My grandmother truly knows how I have felt. And her phone call was to encourage me that God can do amazing things, that we should trust in His goodness, that He is good regardless of whether He gives us children.....and a wealth of other things about the character of God. "But," my grandmother said in a compassionate and understanding voice, "days like today are hard, aren't they, honey?" I can hear her saying it even now in my head, and it brings tears to my eyes. The compassion was just what I needed
I was blessed last year on Mother's Day.
This year, my blessing came a bit earlier.
At school today (I'm a teacher's assistant), Tyana--one of my third graders--handed me this, saying "I know you're not my mom, but I wanted to give you a Mother's Day card anyway."
My first Mother's Day card.
I will treasure it always.
There are several students in my 3rd and 4th grade class whose mothers are nowhere to be found. Several are being raised by grandparents or aunts. In the students' art class, they were to make Mother's Day cards, and I had the heartbreaking chance to read some of them. One particularly caught my eye: "Dear Mommy, I love you. Happy Mother's Day! I miss you, will you PLEASE come home soon?" That was from one of the students who has quite possibly never really known her mother since her mom abandoned the family years ago. I have noticed that the behavior of a few of my students (the ones with such hard family problems) has gone from bad to worse. After talking with the principle about it, I realized that it is because Mother's Day is drawing near.....and they have no mother.
My heart hurts for my own yearning to be a mother, of course, but my heart simply breaks over and over when I see the little faces of my students....who I know have no mommy (or daddy for that matter) at home to help with homework, to make lunches, to tuck them into bed, to pray with them, and to do all the world of things mothers do for their children.
As I think of Mother's Day this year, I will not solely focus on my infertility. I will be thankful for my mom and grandmothers, and tell them so. I will hope for a call from my grandmother. I will think of and pray for my students at school. I will treat the difficult children with a little extra grace because I know their little hearts yearn for a mother to hold. And I will carry my Mother's Day card with me all day long.