Sitting in the pew, I was struck by how many women around me could easily be hurt by my glib “Happy Mothers’ Day” wishes. Within our church family, and among just my smallest circle of friends, I recognize several whose experience with this day is part sorrow.
Donna and her mother Gerry are still deeply grieving over the loss of Donna’s brother about two years ago. I winced inwardly as I wished Gerry a happy day. My elderly neighbor and mother of my next-door childhood pal has lost two of her three children.
Joan lost her young adult daughter unexpectedly, whose life looked full of promise. Our church family was stunned by the loss and her memorial service was easily the largest in many decades.
Then there’s Kay, who lives a life of service to everyone around her to an incredible degree. She must be the encourager in her daughter’s life while carrying her own double sorrow. Daughter Samantha was blessed to celebrate just one happy, careless Mother’s Day but all remaining Mother’s Days, for the rest of her life, will be days of mourning. What does one say to her on this day?
I was thinking of the friends whose adult children have walked away from relationship with them. Some have simply allowed distance to become the default while others have been explicitly cruel.
I was thinking of the countless who feel the loss of their own mothers keenly. My friend Beth, who stepped up to help us take care of my mother because she cared for her own mother until she lost her three or four years ago, still cannot speak about her Mom without tears.
I was thinking of the women who’ve experienced the pain of infertility and the surrendering of hopes and expectations, assaulted by smug broadcast well-wishes.
Compare the numbers of women who can celebrate this day thoughtlessly, with no shadow of sorrow, to those for whom this is a remembrance of loss, either of children or mothers.
We careless surely must be in the minority. I wonder if we ought to observe Mother’s Day differently, more soberly, with more respect for those who’ve lost so much. Or should we get rid of it altogether?