As the years pass by and awareness grows, there are a flurry of articles, blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets reminding folks that Mother’s Day can be painful for women who long for children. There is compassionate content shared about those that are infertile or single, with gentle reminders that this day set aside to celebrate those whose dreams have been realized may find it difficult. As a woman who spent many years desiring to celebrate this day as a mama before our daughter joined our family, I appreciate what is being shared. I, too, want to remind these women that you are seen and loved.
Yet, I can’t help but notice the absence of writings about – or for – motherless children. When I conducted an internet search, not much came up. I hope I’m wrong. I would love nothing more than to start receiving replies as soon as I hit “post” that contain links to current content addressing this important topic. But in case it’s really not there, I wanted to share some thoughts.
Because Mother’s Day is hard when you don’t have a mother.
It’s true that every human alive was born to a woman, but not everyone has a mother. As a result of death, difficult circumstances, or emotional distance, many won’t spend this Sunday making breakfast in bed, carefully crafting macaroni art, or picking out flowers (or the perfect card) for a mom. And this will be hard.
It will be hard for the child who doesn’t have anyone to go with to “Muffins for Mom.”
It will hard for the teenagers living in a group home knowing that, statistically speaking, it’s unlikely they’ll ever celebrate this day.
It will be hard for the college student. The woman in her 30s. The man in his 50s. Anyone whose mom isn’t there – because she abused, because she abandoned, because she is absent from the body.
It will even be hard for the 97 year old whose mother died 60 years before, but who is fondly thought of – and missed – every single day.
You see, Mother’s Day isn’t just about celebrating moms. It’s about a son or daughter doing the celebrating. And when there is no one to celebrate, a day set aside for love and laughter can bring a range of negative emotions – anger, bitterness, and sorrow are a a few of the possibilities. When the world rejoices and you can’t because you’re sad or mad, it’s like salt being poured on a wound. It hurts.
As we remember the ladies for whom Mother’s Day is a painful reminder that they don’t have children to celebrate them, may we also remember the children – regardless of age – for whom Mother’s Day is a painful reminder that they don’t have a mom to celebrate. But don’t just remember them; acknowledge them. Call them. Hug them. Take them to muffins for mom. Remind them that it’s okay to not be okay. Give them space when they need it, and make space for them when they’re ready. Just be there.
For me, the very thought of one day not having my mom to celebrate with brings on waves of grief that are far more painful than any grief I experienced as a childless woman. Because of that, my heart aches for those who want nothing more than their mom – or a mom – to celebrate on Mother’s Day. You are seen and loved too.