Mother’s Day is Hard When You Don’t Have a Mother

Mother’s Day is Hard When You Don’t Have a Mother May 7, 2019

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 mom – to celebrate on Mother’s Day. You are seen and loved too. 

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  • Thank you, Dr. Laurel. I am childless, and I just lost my mother on March 16th, so this Mother’s Day is especially bittersweet. Thank you for your empathy and compassion! Praying for you, as well, on this difficult day!

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    My mother died in 1982 but she’s in my thoughts every day. I am mom to a special needs child. Parenting him has not been easy, and sometime I feel like a failure, but I know he has been loved by many people throughout his young life and I think, “What’s one of the most important things that I could wish for my son: that he is loved!”

  • Dennis G Perry

    My wife’s birthday often fell on Mother’s Day. This May 11 we will bury her cremains in San Antonio, Texas.She was
    not only a mother to our two girls but a mother to many girls in their
    healing from abortion and to other leaders in the pro-life movement.
    She amply illustrated that motherhood is not restricted to just those
    who have natural children, but all those you interacted with. God
    created us male and female; gender was His creation. The Scripture
    presents both male and female attributes as attributes of God. God
    Himself is genderless and consists of three persons in one Godhead.
    During Mother’s Day, many single women feel left out with the subtle
    (and sometime not so subtle) implication that they are not real women.
    The Scripture tells us that we are to become part of the body of Christ,
    built together to become the bride for the Groom. This implies to me
    that we are all virtual mothers. As virtual mothers we must protect
    those who are week among us, feed those who are hungry, and train and
    nurture children in the Faith, just as mothers do for their children
    (Deuteronomy 32:18, Isaiah 49:13-15). We are to imitate God’s character
    and be virtual mothers to those among us. Happy Mother’s Day to all of
    you, my friends.