I realize that Mother’s Day is a difficult day, and it is for me too. I have 3 children who lost a mother. That’s hard. I wrote about the complexity of the day in my book Blended with Grit and Grace. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
Mother’s Day arrives every year without fail and this memorable day is laced with loads of emotion for many. Some grieve the loss of a mother, whether literally or figuratively; others rejoice in the wonderful relationship they have with their mother or a motherlike figure; and still others, like myself, agonize over the numerous complexities this day presents.
Ryan will inquire, every year, “How do you want your day to look?” I usually reply, “My deepest desire is to enjoy a bubble bath without one single person asking or telling me anything through the door—a good thirty minutes is all I ask.” (But then that would make me not a mother, right?)
Usually, this day is okay—peaceful, solid, void of any huge amounts of drama, as everyone is a bit on edge trying to make me feel special or scrambling to create a unique gift so that it doesn’t look like they completely forgot. But this day is also a constant reminder of a gigantic ache for three of my children, and that makes it difficult and bittersweet. We try not to dwell on the agony of our past tragedies. We share memories with our children about Mom and Dad in heaven, we recognize their grief, and we respect their conflicted feelings on this day. Ryan and I do our best to model joy and not use the past as a crutch. Horrific events did occur, but we move forward in praise for what we have been given. We recognize that this life is fleeting and acknowledge God’s faithfulness.
When my biological children were younger, they would embrace Mother’s Day with joy and giddiness, and shower me with 500 billion homemade cards and pictures. As they’ve aged, this has changed, and now Mother’s Day involves last-minute runs to Dollar General to purchase a card and Milk Duds—Caleb’s go-to gift for me. Yes, I love Milk Duds. Generally, my adopted children are also excited about what the day represents and fully participate; however, I know that the day is also a painful reminder of what they’ve lost.
One Mother’s Day, this loss was extremely evident in the behavior of one of my children, who was not at all excited to celebrate the holiday. This child was angry and had been for a week, and I noticed the angst every time a commercial aired about the upcoming day. The other kids would run to make me some thrown-together picture declaring their love, or they would hurry outside to pick another beautiful bunch of weeds, but this child would sit quietly, not meeting my eyes, not saying a word, just silently aching because of the loss. And I didn’t know how to make it better.
I couldn’t make it better, and that is incredibly difficult as a mother. My momma heart wanted to fix the hurt somehow, to be enough—so much so that the loss wouldn’t sting, and in numerous ways, I knew I was a good mom, but it didn’t erase the ache and how this day was a blatant reminder of that pain. As a mom, I wanted to take away the agony, take away the void, maybe even erase the memories because then it wouldn’t be so painful, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t because at times I questioned God’s decision in the matter. As a biological mother, I have a difficult time understanding why he would choose another woman over the mother who gave birth to Tate, Mya, and Jada and loved them. Who wanted them.
It doesn’t seem like the best decision, but then God’s ways are not my ways, and he doesn’t owe me an explanation. It only makes sense that his ways are higher than I can comprehend, and I don’t believe that our comfort is always a top priority here on earth. No, I believe that our comfort often takes a back seat to his ultimate plan or purpose. And I believe that his plan probably resembles an adoption proceeding more than a biological conception—a choice to love others as ourselves rather than an instinctual connection, a choice to love God and choose his ways over our sinful nature that yearns to have everything our own way, a choice to lay down our lives and become more Christlike to those we live with.
This child and I got into a spat the night before Mother’s Day, as we do occasionally, since we both view the world in a similar way, with a black-and-white tendency that needs to be right and each of us storing up arguments to match that desire. There was outright disobedience—something that had never occurred before. We aired our frustrations and mourned our losses and reaffirmed our love for one another, and I held my child and offered reassurance of my love, saying that I would continue to strive to be the best mom I could possibly be.
And isn’t that all we can do for our children—those of our wombs and those of our hearts? Simply be the best we can be for each individually and collectively, relying on God’s grace and mercy as we stumble and then pick ourselves back up. We pray that somehow the pain and loss and ache will be gone one day, and it will make perfect sense when we end our race here on earth and come face-to-face with the One who orchestrated it all, our Abba Father who has graciously adopted each of us into his eternal family.
Just keep livin.
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