Mother’s Day is a bit of a sacred holiday for me. As in, after Christmas and Easter comes Mother’s Day in holidays with a strong emotional attachment. And it’s not because of some egotistical reason that I just love being showered with gifts and thanks by my family. Each year, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of everything God is and does. It becomes a time of deep spiritual reflection.
When I was a child I hated Mother’s Day. Once a year, as others celebrated, I was slapped with the reminder that I didn’t have a mom. Usually such a delightful child, when we practiced the Mother’s Day Program songs in Sunday School the few weeks prior, I’d scowl in the back row or stare at the wall. As all the other kids decorated Mother’s Day projects at school, I’d address mine to a grandma or aunt and pretend it didn’t bother me.
One year after church, my dad found all three of us kids either sullen or crying (y’all know I was a crier even back then) from having to attend the Mother’s Day service at church. So Dad instituted a family tradition: each year we’d skip church on Mother’s Day, go out for a big breakfast, and drive to visit Mom’s grave. Seems morbid, but that’s what we needed, and it was healing. For a good 10 years of my childhood, Mother’s Day meant visiting a grave; her grave. All these years later, Mother’s Day still makes me think of her grave…EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
I had lots of “moms”
The older I got, the more I began to realize that though I didn’t have a biological mom still living, I had lots of “moms”.
I had my Aunty: this fun-loving, God-fearing woman who followed God’s prompting. She invited a widower and his 3 small children into her home while their house was being rebuilt, not realizing they would forever become part of her family.
I had my grandma and aunts who continued to embody Mom’s servant’s heart, her sensitive soul, and her love for God. They always made it feel like coming home when we’d visit.
I had my friend’s mom who treated me as one of her own and coached me through all of those awkward adolescent changes.
I had multiple mentors over the years who selflessly carved out time to spend with a young girl desperate for the wisdom and friendship of an older woman.
And I have a mother-in-law that loves me and treats me like the daughter she always wanted.
To all of you beautiful, blessed souls, I say thank you. You helped me shop for new school clothes. You took me to get my ears pierced. You spoke words of encouragement over me. You prayed with me. You watched me get married. You held my babies when they were born. Mom couldn’t be here to do everything she wanted to, but collectively, God met my needs of a mother through each of you. Please don’t ever underestimate the role you played.
Then a funny thing happened 5 & 1/2 years ago: our oldest child, a sweet baby girl, was born and I became a mother. And a heart that had already began to heal in regard to the meaning of Mother’s Day was suddenly transformed. I didn’t get to have a mother growing up. True. But now I would get to enjoy being a mom!
This year, as I celebrate my 6th Mother’s Day since becoming a mom, I have 3 little people to celebrate with. When I think of Mother’s Day now, I see their squishy faces. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. I think of my journey from the grave, to all my “moms”, to my little babies.
From the grave to new life. That’s my story. That’s God’s story. That’s what God does for us.
And so every Mother’s Day I feel like the Israelites celebrating Passover as a reminder of God’s provision; of his redeeming them from slavery; of journeying with them through the desert and into the Promised Land. Each year as I visualize the little girl visiting her mom’s grave who has now grown into the mom kissing her babies goodnight, it’s a stark reminder of the way God has carried me, cared for me, and blessed me.
I don’t know where you find yourself this Mother’s Day. Perhaps you’re excited to celebrate your mom. Perhaps you’re in the place of enjoying motherhood. Perhaps you’re praying to just celebrate the day by hiding out from all the little people who call you Mom. Perhaps it reminds you of dreams never realized or of a child no longer with you. Perhaps it conjures memories of a failed mother or of one who is already passed away.
“To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61: 3
Wherever you’re at, I pray you can see God’s goodness, feel his peace and know his love. I hope you can think of my story as a symbol of God’s restoration, of his making beauty from ashes.
Happy Mother’s Day!