Most holidays have their darker side. There are the happy celebrators and then the rest of the population with all of their varied and complex feelings. For anyone who has lost, anyone who grieves, each holiday has its own fresh pain.
And here we are at Mother’s Day.
I can’t remember the first Mother’s Day after I lost my daughter, but on the second, I was working at Starbucks. Displayed for the customers,we had taped pictures of our kids for people to look at while they waited for their coffee. I should have called in sick, but I deluded myself into thinking it wouldn’t be weird…
It was tricky the first few years. The first year, especially, when asked “Do you have kids?” I couldn’t manage to say, “no.” It felt, not just like lying, but like I was betraying my daughter and myself. It was also painfully awkward because it meant throwing that cog into the conversation that would force the other person to respond “correctly.” I didn’t feel like they had to respond in any particular way, but I could tell that they felt uncomfortable. “My baby died, here’s your latte.”
So, yes, I put Sarah’s picture up with the others and I breathed relief when questions went no further than, “Which one is yours?”
Here’s the truth of Mother’s Day for me- I’m doing pretty good. Although I have no living children, I was a mother for 9months and a day. Even before I had a child, I had the heart of a mother. When I was really young I used to actually weep when I thought about orphans. While I am not the kind of person to babysit, I would come to any aid for the orphan of any age. Wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day is appropriate, but not required.
I don’t want to post some dramatic quote over an inspirational photo about women who have lost children to miscarriage, abortion or infant death. Friends of mine just lost a daughter after the biological parents decided against adoption. My friends had already waited and actually spent time with the baby when she was first born. Other friends have been unable to get pregnant, others had cruel or absent mothers. To me, though everyone’s pain looks different and requires different kinds of comfort, drama is helpful to no one.
I do want to post something because it always feels like this elephant in the room, “should I wish her a Happy Mother’s Day?”
Like my last post about divorce, I only have a little bit of advice and it is this.
1. If you want to show you care about your friends/family who have lost? Show it!
2. When you show it, express how you feel and don’t assume you know how they feel. They can decide that for themselves. They may feel fine or they may be a wreck. Prepare for anything.
I think it’s that easy. But, you know… it’s also going to be awkward and that’s okay.
Finally… Happy Mother’s Day to my own shorty mama! Thank you for your ever constant and unconditional love. Thank you for showing me what it looks like to lean on Jesus and for always giving generously in all the ways you are able. I love you MOST.