The Seventy-First Letter: The Day Before Mother’s Day

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Dear Daughters,

The preschooler has been hiding her Mother’s Day craft from me so it will be a surprise tomorrow morning. And you haven’t finished your homemade card yet so you solemnly requested that I not look at it tonight after you go to bed. (It’s hiding under a book on the desk serving as our coffee table.)

Your excitement about Mother’s Day is sweet. You really want to make it special. You told daddy that the perfect Mother’s Day gift is jewelry. So instead he let you pick out some hydrangea bushes for me at Lowe’s this afternoon.

The thing is, I’m not a huge fan of Mother’s Day. I am offering our community prayer tomorrow morning in church with the express purpose of cramming it full of the complexity of motherhood in this world—not just the happiness and kids’ crafts and beautiful brunches and bouquets of tulips, but also the loss and suffering so intertwined with giving birth and raising children, the pain of women who cannot care for their children, the millions of mothers in refugee camps around the globe. That’s the grittiness of raising children in this world.

It’s hard. And it hurts.

And too often we just talk about the warm fuzzies and macaroni glued on construction paper. (I can say that because I’m pretty sure the craft you’re hiding in your backpack does not have macaroni on it.)

This morning I took you both to the grocery store with me. It’s not ideal on a Saturday morning, but it’s what we had to do since Daddy had to be at graduation. As we waited in the checkout line, I heard the bagger ask the woman in front of me if she was a mom. He asked her that: “Are you a mom?” And what’s worse is that she didn’t understand him, so he asked it loudly three times. I wanted to cringe. I didn’t know this woman’s story, but I felt my stomach sink on behalf of my myriad friends who struggle with infertility. When it was my turn to checkout, the bagger boisterously wished me a “Happy Mother’s Day!” since it was obvious I had children, and I wanted to just pause and ask him to be a little more gentle with his well-wishing. But there is no way to do that kindly. And it is easier to just let these things slide. Maybe I should have. I don’t know.

Right now, I have friends who are trying to get pregnant, who have accidentally gotten pregnant, who are pregnant after suffering much previous loss during pregnancy, are single but wanting children, are recently divorced but wanting children, have prodigal children, are waiting for foster children to become adopted, have recently lost mothers or grandmothers, have mothers who are quite ill.

Mother’s Day is complicated, girls.

So, the thing is, I didn’t mean to write all of those above paragraphs. What I planned to write was this:

Today I went for a four-mile run. About one mile into it, I passed an older woman looking into a window of a jewelry store on Main Street. Her husband was coming over to look in the window, too, and as I watched, he leaned in and put his arm around her, his face next to hers, as they looked at the jewelry inside.

It was such a sweet gesture, it felt intimate.

And I wondered if she hoped for some new jewelry for Mother’s Day.

And I hoped she would get it.

About another mile into the run, I passed a woman and two children sitting out on their front lawn on a large quilt. She was a young mother, and it was a tiny front lawn along a relatively busy road, but the weather was beautiful, so I commented on it as I huffed by. It was such a sweet scene, this young mother and her children. Maybe I caught them in a good moment. Maybe she had just yelled at them or maybe the older child had just thrown a tantrum. Regardless, it was a scene that made me happy, a Mother’s Day moment.

And then about a mile after that, I passed a perfectly round, twiggy bird’s nest lying on the ground. In the grass, alongside the sidewalk. Beside it were two broken blue eggs, presumably robin eggs. The nest was so perfect, it didn’t look real. But the eggs, the broken eggs. They were real.

And that is Mother’s Day, too. It’s real. It is joyful and beautiful. It honors strong women. It reminds us of our blessings—generations before, generations behind.

But Mother’s Day is also hard and sad and rife with pain. Some of us have lost mothers and grandmothers. Some of us have lost children. Some of us desire children. Some of us don’t.

Beauty and sadness.

Joy and brokenness.

Holy and… holy.

It’s all holy, this chaos of feeling and emotion.

Because lived experience is.

I love you, girls. I’m spoiled to be your momma on Mother’s Day and every day.

Love,

Your Momma

 

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