An open letter to pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

  1. Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

2.  Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

I’ve created a PDF of The Wide Spectrum of Mothering 

3. Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

Update 2014: I’m having a newsletter subscription drive (more info here). It ends on May 23, 2014. To enter, just sign up for the quarterly newsletter and you too may be chosen for a prize.

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p.s. Dear Pastors, It’s me again {what a few days, eh?!} and Another open letter to pastors {lessons from the comments section}. There is also a resource called 10 ideas for pastors on Mother’s Day

Next letter to pastors: Another open letter to pastors for Mother’s Day {Beyond the surface of mothering}

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Comments

  1. I am so with you friend. I didn’t really struggle with this holiday until the past couple of years, but I have been thinking about not going this year…for all of the above. And I think how silly of me, but well, most people just don’t get it.

    • JoDee, go :) … but it’s OK to have a back up plan too!

      • I have been in a church on Mother’s Day when a pastor has asked mothers to stand. I felt so left out. I have no children of my own, but I like to say I “mother other mothers’ children.” The one pastor will ask caregivers to stand. It is still a hurt though.

        Instead of saying “To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you” and “To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day” I would combine these two points to read To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, abortion, failed adoptions, or running away-we mourn with you.

        • Thanks for the suggestion :)

          • The loss of a child through any of these means does not just feel better after a year. I would omit the reference to “this year” as this is something that can be a major trigger for hurting women even years after the event.

          • Good point!

          • Emily H. says:

            I love this post, it is so poignant. All I want is to be a mom, but I have a dull ache where I know my kids should be…

            I would even go further editing that statement with taking out the time frame reference of “this year”. Losses and grief affect people much more than one year.

          • This is a well-done post, but I think you missed an opportunity to approach adoption more thoughtfully. First, you failed to acknowledge the loss experienced by mothers who have relinquished their children to adoption, yet instead decided to focus only on those desiring to adopt. Second, a “failed” adoption, while painful for the prospective adoptive parents, needs to be put in perspective. It means that a mother who felt vulnerable and alone has found the strength to keep her baby and be a mother. That’s not a failure for her or her child. Because infertility has touched so many families in America, we tend to see adoption through the lens of the infertile couple hoping to adopt and forget to see all sides of the equation. Let’s grieve for the infertile couple, but let’s also not forget the natural parents who often lacked resources and alternatives and may be grieving the loss of their child to adoption.

          • Delia, you’re right! I did. I’m sorry.

          • I would NOT combine those lines in that way- people experience abortion differently, and it implies you need to experience it as an event to be grieved. I think the other way is more compassionate and hits the broadest spectrum.

        • I would like to vehemently disagree with this ludicrous suggestion. I have had 3 losses, & none of them were my “choice.” Abortion is a decision, a willful choosing to end a pregnancy, & while I’m aware that painful circumstances may surround that decision, it is wrong to put that in the same category as having your very wanted baby lost from your womb against your will. Amy, your post was very thoughtful, thank you for sharing. I know & love many women in many of those categories. Your original statement should remain as is.

          • Sadly, in many cultures and situations, women are forced to abort their child against their will by family members including husbands and mothers and/or government officials- it’s extremely tragic in those situations too.

          • Col,
            I assume you are referring to “Aunt Betty’s” suggestion to combine the two. While I understand the reality of what Chloe has eluded to above, with abortion not being a choice for all, I fully agree with you! Two completely different things. I have not experienced a miscarriage, but that is because up to this point in my life, I don’t even ovulate. These are all very different pains and wounds. I pray that you have peace and healing in your situation this Mother’s Day.

        • terri poss says:

          I’d also add still birth to that list of losses. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. In our church I know of 3 families who have suffered this loss.

          • Good point!

          • I think mothers who have experienced still birth will feel recognized in the lines about mothers who have lost a child…but if you are considering a rewrite, Amy, maybe some lines about mothers who only had the chance to hold their children briefly while they were already asleep might be nice.

            But I loved this (I am seeing it re-posted a lot) it’s very sweet and understanding and exclusionary of all types of motherhood we experience.

            But I did agree with the person who mentioned birth mothers who placed children to be adopted. I know two young women who made that choice and that is a kind of mother’s bravery and love (and pain) that is unsurpassed.

          • That Zaissa, I have added a line for adoption! And sorry I had forgotten it :) Thanks for your additional thoughts, too!

        • SharAnn1 says:

          I’m sorry, I do not agree. As I am sensitive to those whom wanted children, but were unable or the opportunity just did not arrive. This is a celebration of those who gave up 18+ years to care for, those they gave birth, adopted or fostered. I am tired of the politically correct or hurting peoples feelings. . . Taking away from those that gave much is NOT the answer. This politically correctness or offending other peoples feelings have now opted to take Christ out of too many things. . . STOP IT!

          • I’m sorry you don’t understand. I have had multiple miscarriages – am I not a mother? Did those babies not have life inside me? Just because they died does not make me any less a mother than you or anyone else. Until you have suffered infertility and loss, perhaps it is too difficult to understand. I am a mother who holds my babies only in my heart and my memory…but I am still a mother.

          • Mother’s Day is not a Church holiday. This has nothing to do with taking Christ out of anything. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christ. It is a Hallmark holiday. If it were a Church holiday, you would have a point. This is not about political correctness. I LOATHE political correctness and will never defend it. This is about treating people decently. Making a thing of Mother’s Day in church always always leaves people in tatters. Church should never do that. Honestly, Mother’s Day shouldn’t be part of the service at all, but if it’s going to be, then for the love of God, be sensitive and sensible about it.

            FWIW, I haven’t had to deal with ill-conceived Mother’s Day shenanigans in church since I became Orthodox Christian, because we keep the civil holidays out of the services.

          • ravengirl says:

            sharann1, maybe you should read the piece again. she is specifically saying that the mother’s day reference should be more inclusive. she is not suggesting cutting out actual mothers.(how you made the leap from that to “taking Christ out of too many things” is unclear to me). also, if you have never experienced the pain of infertility, please do not minimize it so callously.

          • Jennifer says:

            I agree…. We are seriously a selfish society who take away the rights of people just because it hurts our feelings. Do you not have a mother or grandmother who you would like to honor on Mothers day? Its not about you getting recognized on this day its about you recognizing the mothers in your life. Do we start taking away Fathers Day? I had a real hard time with Fathers day for a long time. Mine was absent for most of my life but I had a grandfather that stepped up, I now have a husband who is an amazing dad and a father-in-law that I make sure every year know that they are special and loved. I never once begrudged anyone who actually had their father. Are we going to start taking away Veterans day because the people that chose not to serve feel left out? What about Valentines day because of the singles, divorced and windowed? Its one day a year that we make a point to make others feel special. Its not about us.

            If you are having a hard time with this day then look for somewhere to channel that hurt. I realize some have gone to great lengths to have children to no avail (my sister-in-law included) but God has a plan and He will use you to do something with the pain you are feeling. Its time to quit focusing on what you dont have and really look at your life and see what you do have and celebrate that. We all know mothers, let them know they are special for what they do instead of being hurt that no one is looking at you.

          • SharAnn, I think you’ve completely missed the point here. Does that mean a mother that lost a child well before that 18 years is up is less a mother? Does that mean that women who sacrifice and love children who also have a mother is undeserving of recognition because she doesn’t have paperwork stating “I’m a mom”? I was beyond blessed to have an aunt in my life who was a 2nd mom to me in pretty much every sense of the word. And having a miscarriage is one of the most devastating things I’ve been through in my life. It’s not about NOT celebrating moms, it’s about expanding the definition to include all the wonderful women who care devotedly for children, no matter how long they were in their lives.

            And to Jennifer, I will celebrate what I do have. I have a child in heaven whom I love very much. Just because they didn’t walk with me on earth doesn’t mean I don’t hold them in my heart.

          • SharAnn and Jennifer, if you are mothers, I can only hope you don’t pass your callous attitudes on to your children. By the way, just because a person is a mother doesn’t mean they are an honorable one. and you two prove my point.

          • Christine says:

            It is very hard to comment when you haven’t had losses. I am a mother of living children and have also had losses. Those unfortunate people who lost a child prior to him/her living or after they had held and nurtured that child are no less of a mother and I can tell you they would welcome that 18+ years of hard work.

          • I am the mother of a terrific 17 year old son and appreciate acknowledgement of the hard job of parenting, but for years my husband and I dealt with infertility. I cannot tell you the pain I felt when well meaning people wished me a happy mother’s day, not knowing my issues. My new church has always given flowers to moms and I will approach this as a celebration of our mothers during the children’s sermon. During the pastoral prayer we will pray for all of those mentioned because our church welcomes all who seek God.

          • I am a mother, and I would NEVER have my childless friends sit in a pew while I stand over them. Having a baby did not turn me into an insensitive, self-aggrandizing person. It did not turn me into a person who is better or more deserving of attention than any other person.

            Mother’s Day is not a church holiday. If certain moms are so desperate for gold stars, they can make their families celebrate at home.

          • Jennifer says:

            Mary… You call it callous? I call it reality and yes I am raising my daughter to know that not every one will have what she has and she wont have what everyone else will have and to not rub it in or be envious of other people. If thats not honorable then its reality. I would rather my daughter have realistic expectations in her life and not live in a fairy tale and be surprised when it doesn’t work out. She does everything to the best of her ability and she is supportive of her friends that do better than her.

          • I have very mixed feelings about this letter, Amy. I love your compassionate nod to the spectrum of motherhood, as you laud each woman for her different experiences. However, the whole bit about not recognizing mothers in church, because it might make some women feel bad is too PC for my taste. I grew up in a church where the pastor would ask mothers to stand and would say, “without mothers there would be no others.” I applauded the women standing, including my own mother, because they deserved the recognition. Even after my mom kicked me out of the house at 17, and I looked to female mentors for guidance, no woman could ever replace my mother. No other woman WAS my mother. No other woman put up with my poopy diapers, tantrums (toddler & teenage), concussions, comforted me over heartbreaks, kissed my scraped knees, dressed me ridiculously in the 80’s, threw me birthday parties, made me do my homework and chores for thirteen years, accompanied me on field trips, spanked my disobedient butt, or told me “I love you” every single night I lived in her house. I’m not saying that these things are necessary to make a woman a mother; my heart breaks for friends who have lost children ever–in utero or postpartum. These women will always be mothers, along with the beautiful souls who foster and adopt and give their children up for adoption. Many women devote their entire lives to motherhood, and many women are moms in addition to working outside the home to provide for their families. Recognizing a person’s role does not take away from those who have other, equally important, yet different roles in God’s kingdom. The body of Christ is made up of many parts, none more righteous than the other. I didn’t feel “left out” when a local workplace celebrated Office Assistant Day, because while I do file our bills and answer the phone, I’m not actually an Office Assistant. I can understand the pain of infertility. Everyone has pain to deal with. Let’s celebrate mentors in the church! And let’s celebrate women in the church! But a woman who is not a mother . . . is not a mother. It’s not about making some women feel left it, it’s about rejoicing and celebrating women who are surviving motherhood. Women are more than their roles. Squishing every woman into the celebration of Mother’s Day promotes the misconception that a woman can’t be fulfilled without being a mother.

          • Hi M, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read through some of the comments on standing … I think the consensus is that the vast majority is pro-honoring, we’d just like to find an alternative to the standing :)

          • KarisMill says:

            A church is a private organization. You can’t tell them to stop celebrating Mother’s Day, even if its just, as you call it, a “Hallmark holiday” and not a religious holiday. In fact, you can’t really tell them to do anything; if you object to their practices, you are free to worship elsewhere.

            My church already has prpblems with running a private pre-school: some of the parents object to Christmas and Easter being observed at a private Christian pre-school!!! Believe it or not. What part of PRIVATE do they not understand? This political correctness is a disease in our society.

            I find it particularly sad when a grown woman is jealous of another woman getting a simple, cheap flower on Mother’s Day.

          • I know someone who gave everything she had to her daughter, she gave her time, she gave her money (for hospital bills), she gave birth to her to begin with… And her daughter died anyways. Five months of sitting in a NICU unit, her daughter never left the hospital.

            And since her daughter died, many would no longer consider her a mother. And yes, I have seen people who treat her and others like her this way. “If you don’t have a child, there’s no way you could understand.” No, she did have a child, and her child is no longer with her.

            Being a mother isn’t just about the woman who can raise her child to 18.

            For the ones who have lost their babies, it isn’t about jealousy. It’s about “what if?” It’s about “what would my child have looked like if she had survived?” It’s about “what would my life be like if my child were here today?”

            The original meaning of mother’s day was to honor those women whose sons had died in battle, not to “just” honor someone for having a child in their care. It was to honor those who no longer had children.

            So why is it that someone whose child didn’t survive to see the light of day is not considered a mother, and why can she not be honored as well? What Amy appears to be proposing is the inclusion of any woman who has wanted to be a mother or who has tried to be a mother or who was a mother, so as to not hurt those who no longer have their children or who could never have them.

            I was a mother to my children long before I was pregnant, I thought about my future children in the choices I made for medications (I have some chronic illnesses), I thought about my future children in the choices I made for taking vitamins and where I bought my house, because I knew I would some day want to be a mother.

            One of my four children survived. The other three died in utero, after I had seen a heartbeat.

            Was I not a mother until the day my one living child was born? If you believe that life begins at conception, then each and every one of the women who has undergone fertility treatments or has had a miscarriage has been a mother, whether or not her child made it out to the world.

            Is it really political correctness to acknowledge that?

            I know in my case it’s not jealousy, it’s pain. It’s pain in knowing that I will never see my daughter’s face, or hear her laugh, or see her graduate. It’s pain in knowing that her all too brief life was snuffed out too soon.

            It’s knowing that her life meant something.

            I know a number of people for whom they consider my children to never have existed, even once they have been told those children had names, that I knew the sex of the babies, that I had seen their hearts beat.

            If life begins at conception, doesn’t motherhood begin then as well? When you are pregnant, do you not feel your belly for the baby, do you not talk to him, do you not think fondly of the life inside you? Does it make you more of a mother the instant that baby takes breath? Does it make you less of a mother if that child dies?

            If it is just a simple, cheap flower, then why not give it to all women who have been in the role of mother, either by birth or by caretaking? Why not acknowledge all of the mothers who not only are, but were, whether that is through the loss of their child, or the loss of the mother?

            To acknowledge the loss is to help with the healing process.

            I, for one, cannot acknowledge mother’s day without acknowledging those mothers who no longer have a child, or those children who no longer have a mother, or those who have always wanted to be mothers, but never could.

            It’s called compassion.

            Even those who have lost children but have living children still find themselves being torn on mother’s day. Have some empathy, after all, it’s just a cheap flower, right?
            Cyd recently posted…An open letter for mother’s day – From someone for whom it hasn’t always been a happy one.My Profile

          • SharAnn, Jennifer, and KarisMill- You all 3 mention political correctness. While certain aspects of the letter could be debated and open to “political correctness” discussions- such as “Spiritual moms, mentor moms”, etc- other elements absolutely cannot be dismissed as “political correctness”.

            Please step back from your unique situations and put yourself in others. My wife and I had a stillbirth 4 years ago in October- the next May, my wife (who is INCREDIBLY strong) was pregnant, and just sat when everyone stood and cried quietly. Again- take yourself out of it. Is this what you want others to feel? Because there are dozens of posts just on this tiny little thread where people feel that way. You want your fellow christians to feel this way? How about the non-believer that came with a friend for the first time in years? My wife was a mom- she gave birth to a 7 pound baby who had passed in her womb. Was she to stand? Was she not supposed to? Is she supposed to just “suck it up”?
            I’ll give you another example in our life. My one year old died on Christmas last year- our 3rd daughter. The medical conditions we faced were incredible and I’ve never seen a mom do anything I saw my wife do. Again- take yourself out of your own situation and let’s pretend that you’re daughter died (horrible thought- but please, bear with me). Now mother’s day rolls along and everyone is standing around you. Do you stand? Is it awkward? This happens all over the country- thousands of people every mothers day. We ignore them? Our church has a saying- If people are important to God, then they should be important to us. I implore you to remove yourself, and put yourself in other’s shoes. The world would be a better place.

            Standing needs to go away entirely. Period. If you want to honor mothers- I think thats awesome. Lets just sit and do it.

          • jennifer says:

            Andy, If she feels like a mother, she should stand with the other mothers, she has endured every thing a mother should not have to…. I am not trying to say for her to “suck it up” but dont take it away from others. How ever long she is a mothers it counts. Your daughter died on Christmas, I am sure every Christmas is going to be hard on your family, but are you going to stop celebrating Christmas? I have been in those shoes only on Fathers day and if you read my post I never once felt like others should not be celebrated because of what I didnt have. If my daughter were to die I would not feel like I shouldnt stand. I would be sad, I would cry, but I would still feel blessed to have been a mother to her.

            This debate could go on and on and no one will be happy. I am sorry people hurt, I am sorry there are bad things that happen but you cant please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Some one is always going to feel left out or their feelings hurt or whatever. That is my point about society…. we are a selfish people. If we cant please everyone then get rid of it. Thats how the Ten Commandments got removed from the capital, that is why the Bible and the Pledge is getting pushed out of schools, that is why the military is starting to court-martial service members for sharing their faith. When will it stop?

          • I AGREE….WE ALL HAD MOTHERS….they may not have ALL BEEN PERFECT….but we all had a mother who at the very least GAVE US LIFE….give thanks for that life giver…..it’s not always about US….it’s most often about the OTHER….who was our MOTHER….BROKEN AND IMPERFECT…BUT A LIFE GIVER NONETHELESS….

          • I don’t think people here assume it’s not about others :) … we know that :)

          • polkadots says:

            @ SharAnn1. Mother’s Day in America started out as a secular holiday, an excuse for greeting card companies to make even more money. I don’t recall the Bible stating that Mothers should be honored on a special holidday each year in a ceremony.

            There is no biblical mandate to marry and have kids, particularly not under the New Covenant. Christ said anyone who puts son, daughter, father, mother, or brother above Him is not worthy to be His follower. Christ said he came to come between mothers and daughter and fathers and sons, not to deify the family unit.

            The contemporary American Christian culture has turned marriage and having children (the nuclear family) into idols to be worshipped, churches place the nuclear family above the family of God (fellow believers in Christ), and that was never God’s intent, for one reason of several is that it needlessly and heartlessly excludes people who do not fit that particular demographic, such as the divorced, the child free, the childless, the never married, and widows.

            Christians only enjoy “rejoicing with those who rejoice.” The church “rejoices” over motherhood (and marriage) the entire year, year after year. It is time the church starts “weeping with those who weep.”

            When is the last time your church, or any church, had a church service honoring the infertile ladies in your church? The never married? The widows? The divorced? It is wrong to focus only on motherhood and fatherhood.

            Until Christian churches and Christian culture gives equal time and recognition to everyone – the unmarried, the divorced, the childless, etc – they need to lay off the “mother’s day” and “father’s day” hype. Every other sermon by most preachers is about marriage, while currently, around 45% of the adult American population is SINGLE.

            Also, as my mother has been dead a few years now, I find Mother’s Day a painful holiday and despite it. I’d rather not be reminded by having to hear sermons about the topic or seeing the numerous Mother’s Day advertisements for cards and flowers.

            Jesus Christ said anyone who follows the will of God is His mother, so technically, each and every female in a church service can stand when the preacher says “will all mothers stand now?” during the annual Mothers Day service. But in my view, churches need to stop having Mother’s Day and Father’s Day services anyway.

          • polkadots says:

            @ jennifer said, “I am not trying to say for her to “suck it up” but dont take it away from others”

            Never- married childless women are NEVER acknowledged by churches or culture. We don’t get holidays.

            That’s why it sounds so funny and incredibly selfish to me every time people who have children complain they don’t get recognized ‘enough’ by churches or whomever, or you’re afraid of giving so much as an inch on the issue of Mother’s Day being toned down in church so as not to unnecessarily hurt infertile people or single ladies.

            Why should someone who got pregnant, and the child is still living, get a holiday and ceremony in a church?

            Never married men and women don’t get recognized by churches at all. Nobody ever asks during a church service, “will all the never married people please stand? We’d like to give each single person a flower in honor of you and your commitment to Christ.”

            Conversely, churches worship motherhood year round – and marriage, too, not just once or twice per year.

            Preachers are always doing sermons on how great marriage and parenting are, and how it’s such a shame secular culture is supposedly trying to destroy motherhood, marriage, etc. Where are the sermons acknowledging the importance of un-married people, and how culture is trying to tear down Christian singles?

          • @SharAnn1: Right, because the Christian church hasn’t alienated enough people already. Please do keep on telling us how much you don’t care about other people’s feelings in the context of a supposedly spiritual and supportive religious community. Of course the world is hard. So it’s your job specifically to make it even harder on others–who’ve miscarried, struggled with infertility, lost children, lost their own mothers–just so you can feel tough? Way to share Christ’s love, lady.

          • I can’t believe the attitude of some in this thread! No one is suggesting that mother’s not be recognized and honored. Rather the point of this post is to try and do so in a way that honors the hurt and pain of the thousands of women for whom this is day reminds them of the deepest source of hurt imaginable. It’s not about PC, it’s about compassion.

            For thousands, if not millions, of people Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day too) is a bittersweet holiday: anyone who has endured infertility, miscarriage, the death of a child, the death of their mother, child abuse, parental neglect, and the list goes on.

            The Christian thing to do is NOT to sweep all of these issues under the rug in the name of celebrating along with those who have no heartache this time of year. Rather the Christian thing is to recognize that motherhood invokes a deep and wide spectrum of emotions; some of which are happily celebrated, others of which are painful, even traumatic. Isn’t it more honoring to ALL mothers to offer to walk alongside them through the trials rather than shove the trials in their face while saying, “Can’t you just be happy for those who aren’t hurting today?”

          • I think I like the post, and I think we should be mindful. As to the standing, I don’t know that people notice the ones who sit, nor do they critize them for sitting, I think to turn that attention onto yourself in that moment is a bit self centered in a way… I think when mothers stand in church or schools or anywhere they are celebrated, it is a moment for the rest of us to turn our attention towards them, and to be grateful that we have them in our midst. It does not devalue the rest of us women, nor does it mean we are forgotten, one thing doesn’t equal the other, and therefore taking it away wouldn’t set everyone on the same level. There is a time for honoring people, I think mothers can stand (anyone who has ever been a mother), I think it is nice to see them, smile at them, thank them, and allow them to relish in that moment of gratitude from their community and the people who love them. Keeping in mind the ones who have had and lost and all the other complex situations mentioned in this article that revolve around mother’s day.
            To Andy, I believe anyone who has held life in their womb is a mother, it is a personal choice if one wishes to stand or not. No one takes away from one’s own experience. To celebrate the life does not mean we’ve forgotten the loss.
            To Mary, Jennifer is not saying they are all honorable mothers, but I would agree with her that it is a day to celebrate in your life the ones who are, to take that moment from them does not take away everyone’s hurt or mixed emotions, but to love them and cherish them may in fact add to your life in a positive way.
            Amy, I think it would be lovely and thoughtful for a pastor or any one guiding a celebration on mother’s day to add that last piece your wrote on the article, it’s beautiful.

          • God blesses us all differently. I promise you that there are very few barren women who would not love to have given up 18+ years of our lives to rearing children. Mother’s Day is NOT a religious holiday. It has only been in existence for 100 years. All we are asking for is a little sensitivity. I went through years of fertility treatment and disappointment each and every month when that pregnancy test came back negative. Motherhood was not a gift God chose to bestow on me. In the long run it was a blessing as I did not have entanglements when I finally left my verbally abusive bullying pastor husband.

            I have seen several very insensitive posts by those of you who will NEVER know the pain of not being a mother. I have longed for the trips to the doctor to hear the heartbeat…to see the ultrasound pictures…to go through the pain of giving birth. I am not bitter for not having children. God had other plans that He considers better for me.

            I want to commend one mega-mega church I attended. I was with my niece that particular Mother’s Day. We had discussed it and sat towards the back in case I needed to excuse myself. The pastor had all females stand and every female received a rose. It was a celebration of all women, not just those of YOU who have had the glorious blessing of being mothers. They honored the oldest mother, the youngest mother, the mother with the most children, etc. It was a sensitive way to celebrate mothers and womanhood.

            Again, may I point out that this is NOT a religious celebration. Jesus did not tell us to celebrate motherhood on a Sunday in May. He did not tell us to set aside yet another Sunday a month later to celebrate fatherhood. What he does tell us to do is to love Him with everything we have. Then he tells us to love humanity as we love ourselves. We are not trying to put a wet blanket on your secular celebration. If we should be inclusive anywhere, it should be in the pews of our churches. Just be sensitive. There are many women in your children’s lives who have very important and formative roles in the adults your children become. Without the rest of us, your children would be less than they are now. I would be less than I am now without Mrs. Nellie who taught Sunday school and Sunbeams, Mrs Sue the kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wanda who taught GA’s. Mrs Mable (also barren) who gave up her Tuesday afternoons to teach children’s choir and again on Sunday nights to teach Training Union, Aunt Beverly who was a most awesome neighbor who was there the few occasions my mom wasn’t., Mrs. Martin who taught Jr and Sr high choir and band and taught us excellence, Mrs. Culp for trying to teach me to write and speak appropriately, Mrs. June who also taught me piano and played in our church, and the list goes on and on and on and on. My Mom did an awesome job, but she had lots of help, too. Each and every one of these ladies considered us all their children, just not children of their womb. I thank God for all the awesome women he has placed in my life to show me how to live and love.

            We are not trying to make it about us vs. you. You may not look down on us for not being able to stand, but we look down on ourselves for that one task our bodies refused to perform. We put on our big girl panties every Mother’s Day Sunday and come to church anyway. We come even though it is the most painful day of the year, every year. Just realize that Mother’s Day is a sticky wicket.

      • margaret says:

        Dear Amy,
        We don’t know each other, but I wanted to thank you for this post. A friend shared it on her FB page. I too am a single gal in her late 30`s, so when I read this blog, I just appreciated you so much, because it’s so nice to read something so honest and profound that you can identify with. So, thank you. And God bless you!

      • just wanted to add to the thanks, I am a single girl in my early 40s and not married and no children..this year I started praying for “just one egg” to be left for me, just in case I am ever so lucky. Thank you so much for writing such a tender essay that captured the gamut of Motherhood/loving others,etc..as I work w/the elderly, my “mothering” comes in working with other people’s children who are decades young! But thank you so much for articulating so well. It is important to realize the pain others might have on this day, while recognizing and honoring our own individual heartaches, for whatever reason, for so many don’t get it.

        the only thing I might even add to your list is their must be a special heartache for those women w/Alzheimer’s who perhaps remember Mothering.you can tell what a good mom they were by how they hold their baby doll. Iwould see them in the nursing home when I worked there. Some definitely do remember their children but sadly some currently might not recognize or remember that they’ve raised wonderful children. I remember once a lady who was frantically looking for her schoolage children to feed them dinner, unaware her children were fine adults now in their 50s or so…I was unable to calm that Mom! I feel the Spirit is perfect and someday in heaven they will remember their children.

        Anyways, I will go to my church, I love it and learn, but like many here, it is a painful day depending on how it goes and how women in general are spoken about And about the flower thing..add me to the list of those who’d sneak out to avoid it. Recently the trend is giving chocolates..we don’t have to stand, it is just passed around in another meeting a little after the main meeting (a meeting just for women)..and so yes, as a chocolate lover, I am happy to claim my “mothers day chocolate!”

        Good luck and hugs to everyone!

        • polkadots says:

          @ nita
          Just because you have never given birth or been pregnant does not mean you are not a mother, so go ahead and stand and take the flowers or candy at your church, next time they are offered.

          Jesus Christ said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.””
          (Matthew 12:50)

          See what Jesus said there? Churches get it wrong. All women are “mothers,” not just ones who become pregnant.

          • Polkadots:

            There wasn’t a reply link to the post of yours that I wanted to respond to, so I’ll use this one.

            You, and others who see Mothers Day as basically being a plot invented by the greeting card companies to make more money obviously don’t know about Anna Jarvis, how she claimed to have created Mothers Day, and how she hated what it had turned into a few scant years later (funny, she couldn’t control her own child).

            And as for whether or not it’s a “church holiday,” it depends on your definition of a church holiday. As it came out of the “Sunday School Movement” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one could definitely consider it to be a church holiday, along with such other forgotten goodies as Roll Call Sunday and Temperance Sunday.

            But enough from me here. For more, check out the following blog post of mine:

            http://wordfromg.blogspot.com/2013/05/anna-jarvis-isnt-happy.html

    • This is one of the best pieces I have ever read about Mother’s Day! Thank you for putting these thoughts in such eloquent words. I taught school for 33 years and felt like I had lots of “children” even though I did not give birth to them. They all tested my patience, received my love and support, saw my smile and my tears, had help with clothing, food, and counseling, and filled me with pride and joy. I also have a large family full of nieces and nephews that I babysat, changed diapers, fed, rocked to sleep, and loved as if they were my own. The word “mother” has so many meanings especially in these times. So, giving birth alone does not a mother make. Thank you again for your words and reminding us that a church should make everyone feel welcome and safe.

    • Kathie Neubauer says:

      My pastor,James MacDonald, read your poem at church this weekend. I’m sure it touched everyone. Thank you for writing it!

    • I feel blessed to have 4 awesome children, but I get it too. This is a beautiful, well thought out, letter.

  2. Thank you for sharing your eloquent “letter.” I’ve never attended a church which had the mothers stand and although I am one, I would be thinking about those around me sitting. My heart feels deeply for others. On a lighter note, I’m Presbyterian and my church is very “traditional” during our worship :)
    Thank you for your wonderful words/thoughts. Blessings!

    • Cindy, I think there are a lot who “get this” — whether you are a mother or not! Thanks for support through your comment.Amy

      • Amy –

        A friend posted a link on Facebook to your blog last week. Because I lead worship at our church, I clicked through to see what it was about. I immediately forwarded it to our pastor, asked if I could read your poem on Mother’s Day, and offered some alternative suggestions towards recognizing mothers.

        Traditionally, the women’s ministry at our church has asked mothers to stand, be recognized and presented with the gift of a carnation. This year, we did not not stand and carnations were instead offered at the exits as people left.

        Maybe not yet perfect. But I think it’s a big step in the right direction.

        BTW, the poem was very well received.

        Tim

  3. Marsha Young says:

    Right on! As a mother, in fact YOUR mother, I totally agree with everything you said. I hope this will turn the tide of “over-mothering” Mothers’ Day.

    • Thanks Mom. I love you.

      • I really love what you have to say about mothering and especially the poem! I don’t know if you wrote the poem or not, but I would add one thing…something about women who are currently taking care of their mothers. My own mother is doing this and I feel it’s another part of the continuum. I constantly admire my mom’s compassion, love, and strength in caring for my grandma. :) Thanks for sharing this Amy!

        • Katie, you’re right! I watched my mom “mother” her parents and now one sister is “mothering” her MIL. Most definitely a part of the continuum! Amy

        • Yes, for all of us mothering our parents….a holy awesome and exhausting job. You can’t just sling them up on your hip and keep going…thank you all.

          • Perhaps if anyone is asked to stand, it could be ALL women since it truly does take the Village to raise all of us; mothering happens whether or not there is a biology involved…and it continues to happen for the rest of our lives.

          • I had one pastor that recognized all women on Mother’s Day, for the very reason you stated. Incidentally, he an his wife had no biological children. Maybe that was why he had such a good understanding of how childless women felt on this day, and of how much of themselves they often give to the upbringing of other people’s children.

      • Thank you! I was thinking of “boycotting” the weekend next year, instead I’ll start sharing this blog. ;)

        I’d also add moms who are abused by their children.

        • Oh, I did forget them, thanks for speaking for them! Amy

          • As a single parent female clergy whose own mother has passed…I applaud you. I have been asked to speak this year on Mother’s Day and see the spectrum of women who’s children are incarcerated, murdered, distant…for the Mother who is on crack and sold her son for drugs, to the Mother who…and the children who love and despise them and so on…

            It’s easy to celebrate when butterflies and rainbows are present but I ask God, how do we celebrate with those who are broken, hurt and confused? How do we celebrate with those who do not want to celebrate? God answered my prayer (at least a portion) through you. Thank you…with credit of course, your poem will be shared on Mother’s Day from a pulpit.

          • Shelia — all I can say is yes, yes, yes! This is what I hope to see, the love of God poured out on everyone with the message of “I see and know you and will be with you.” And then the body working together to be salt and light. Blessings sister!

  4. Kristi Magi says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Amy, for this post. Well said and from the heart of so many of us!

    • You’re welcome — there are so many wonderful forms of mothering, let’s focus on that and not only on what has come out of a person’s body!

  5. While living in China, I was faced with my identity. I came to discover that my identity isn’t in being a mom, or a wife, or a teacher. My identity is in Christ. Everything else is icing-on-the-cake and can be taken away from me in an instant.

    Celebrate the individual and who she (or he) is in Him.

    Mother’s Day is not my favorite day. I simply wish we could do away with it. I realize some folks need a push to acknowledge their own mothers, but I am frustrated with how it can make other women look and feel.

    I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    • Molly, I miss you and Jeff! And I so appreciate people like you and comments / thoughts that resonate with truth!

      • Amy, It’s going on 7 yrs. since we last stood in China. Miss it so much. Miss YOU too. It’s sometimes hard to understand why we are here…at other times it’s clear.

        You speak from a perspective that is perhaps not the “norm” and that’s what I’m constantly battling.

        I linked your blog post on my FB page. It speaks so much of how I feel. I have lots of Molly-isms and I’m so appreciative when another person can put into words my thoughts.

    • Lori Vogel says:

      Thank you for expressing this idea as I share it. Should worship service be about celebrating a different “interest group” every week or about expressing praise of our wonderful Savior. My daughter sent this post to me as she knows I skip church on American Mother’s Day.

    • KarisMill says:

      I think its sad when women are jealous of each other. Are some of you women really so juvenile that you are jealous of seeing another woman get a simple, cheap flower at church on Sunday? Come on, ladies. Grow up and learn to support each other.

      I’ve never heard of men getting upset about Father’s Day and fathers being acknowledged. That’s because men tend support each other. There are fewer jealousies and rivalries.

      • Why can’t supporting each other mean being inclusive, KarisMill? I’m not jealous of a single, cheap flower — what hurts is the lack of acknowledgement, the denial of my child.

        Men DO get upset about Father’s day, but they are encouraged not to share how they feel, and tend to keep it inside — something which, I might add, is not actually healthy.

        This is not about rivalry, this is about women in non-traditional mothering roles & experiences asking for acknowledgement alongside traditionally honoured mothers. Why is that so offensive/frightening if, to you, it’s just a simple, cheap flower?

      • polkadots says:

        @ KarisMill .
        Your attitude is simply stunning in its lack of compassion.

        As a never married woman who never had children, and the church never once honors women like me, yes I do mind it very much that churches make a big deal out of motherhood. It’s not jealousy that causes me to feel this way, but that they make me (and others like me) feel like I am excluded.

        Also, my mother has been dead a few years, and the holiday is just another disgusting reminder to me that she is gone.

        Are you so cruel and heartless that receiving a cheap carnation flower one day out of the year in church, for a holiday that is not even biblical, means more to you than the fact that there are infertile women around you, or ones who had miscarriages, or ones who wanted to have kids but could not because they never married, that could be hurt?

        Are you aware of this verse KarisMill:

        Jesus Christ said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew chapter 10)

        Do you love being a mother more than Christ? Do you love your sons and daughters more than Jesus Christ?

        Do you love receiving adulation from your church for being a mother more than you love Jesus? Do you love getting a fake flower in a mother’s day ceremony at church more than you love Jesus? It rather sounds like you do, and that is in violation of Christ’s own teachings on the topic.

      • @KarisMill. Your lack of compassion and utter cruelty is incomprehensible to me. It’s not about jealousy or rivalry–not even remotely. It’s about a deep, horrible pain that NEVER goes away. I got pregnant 4 times and was unable to carry any of the pregnancies to term. I considered myself a mother as soon as I heart their precious little heartbeats. You cannot imagine the pain of such a loss unless you’ve experienced it. To make matters worse, my husband left me shortly after the last miscarriage. That was over 25 years ago and it still hurts. I too, stopped attending church on Mother’s Day because it just wasn’t worth reliving the pain. So, Karis, don’t you dare tell me to “grow up.” I do sincerely hope, however, that at some point before you die, you actually grow a heart.

        • You really think that men aren’t bothered? My husband used to dread Father’s Day for the same reason and it is not from jealousy.

  6. P.S. I was just recently thinking about your last Halloween post and still so much want to comment on it. One of these days I will!

  7. Melinda Oberhelman says:

    Amy, I shared a link to your post on my facebook page–hope that was okay. I am “friends” with several pastors and was hoping they might see it and read it and learn from it. I have gotten some very positive comments on it from various women friends. Nothing from pastor’s yet. [smile]

    While I was in the role of pastor, I used Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate all the women in our lives and the multiple roles they play. (I used Father’s Day to celebrate the role of godly men in our lives.)

    II always appreciate your posts–even when I don’t comment.

    Love you and miss you friend!

    • Melinda, yes, PLEASE share! I’m kind of surprised how many comments I’m getting here and on FB. It’s struck a chord with many. If it can be used, I’m grateful. With love to you too! Amy

    • But that means that everyone has to identify as either a man or a woman, and not everyone is. When anyone is left out, we have failed the whole.
      Linda McMillan

      • Indeed. Galatians 3:28 anyone? :)

        • Please be careful using Scripture to “authenticate” your point. We must look at what the Bible says and then examine those words in the light of God’s character (which is also found in the Bible). The Bible says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” (Genesis 1:27). Galatians 3:28 is referring to the oneness we have in Christ, not that someone loses their femininity or masculinity when they become a Christian.

  8. Thanks Amy. I shared this on fb. It was spot on !

  9. Deborah says:

    Hi Amy – I’ve heard you talk and write on this subject before and you just get more eloquent and sensible (is that the word I’m looking for? you make a lot of sense). The first time I encountered the standing thing, I was pregnant with Mimi, and I found the whole thing confusing… do I stand? I feel like a mother, but not everyone will see it that way… Dan and I even had a small argument in the pew. What ridiculousness. It wasn’t painful, though, and I can see that it could be painful to many women for many reasons. Thanks for speaking up for them (us). I’ll be posting on FB.

    • Deborah, thanks for stopping by and for sharing your story! Would love to get to sit down and chat with you — ah, maybe some day :). Amy

  10. Amy – I find myself saying “amen” throughout your post. Thanks for this. They are words of life and quickens the spirit. I am sharing this wisdom on my fb page too. What a gift to have you among us….

  11. Let me echo the “amens” already written. You wrote this perfectly & expressed the core issue with grace and aplomb. *hearty applause*

    IMHO, the church needs to join the 21st century with this kind of stuff.

  12. Thanks for sharing this, Amy! Well said! I also shared it on fb. I have been in some churches that have the Moms stand or give out flowers to moms. I never thought much about it until I saw one of the ladies giving out flowers refusing to give it to a pregnant woman because she wasn’t a mother yet. It was sad on so many levels!

    • Lynn, thanks for the repost! and for your story — sadly I think there are more of them floating around out there. Amy

      • Lynn M says:

        In our church, they would pin flowers on all the women. A red one if your mother was alive, and a white one if she had died. It was horrible. The first Mother’s Day after my own mom had died I refused to take a flower at all (and it was my first year as the minister with that congregation!). I didn’t need my loss and grief pinned to me, as if I would forget that she was gone.

        I don’t know if it made much difference, but I did have them change to just offering pink ones to all the women who came to church on Christian Family Sunday.

  13. Sharee' says:

    It always made me sad when the church I grew up in would honor various mother categories- most children present, oldest mother, youngest (married) mother, etc. What about the women who would love to have a house full but can only have one, or the single mother doing her best to follow Jesus, or the women who are infertile and long to be a mother? Or even the single women patiently waiting for a husband and family? Thank you for writing this.

  14. Amy, I am a mom and a pastor and have always felt this way about Mother’s Day. Thanks for sharing because when I protest to such things, people always look at me strangely, and sometimes even question my judgement. It is a very real affirmation. I have my own theologial thoughts on Mother’s Day and my own personal experinces. Check them out if you like on my blog.

    • Kim, I tried to leave a note on your blog, but couldn’t. Thank you for pointing us to your words. Yesterday it hit me that I hadn’t said anything about single mom’s and now you have gently reminded me of those who have been adopted. I, obviously, don’t know what your biological mom is thinking/feeling/remembering about you. But I lived at a group home for pregnant teens for several years and I do know that she most likely does think of you. She knows your birthday and for the last 40 or so years has marked it in her heart. I also know of others, here in China and around the world, who have given their baby “up” as the most loving act they could — I’m sorry to hear of the painful parts in your story. Truly. Be reminded that your heavenly father also references himself a mother hen who will gather her children to you. You are wanted by her! Thanks for stopping by, we are better for hearing your voice! Amy

  15. northpointcc says:

    Thank you for writing this – I thought I responded earlier but my comment has not appeared so if there are two please forgive the duplication. I am a pastor and we do not have mothers stand on Mother’s Day. We usually give all the ladies a small gift. However, in a previous ministry, we had the newest, oldest, youngest and one with the most children present stand. I remember the awkward feeling of watching those who could not stand for any of the categories we had used. Unless you object, I would like to use your statements to honor the ladies in our fellowship. We are not a large church but we have ladies who fit each of your statements. Wish I would have asked a lady about Mother’s Day years ago. Thanks!!

    • Northpointcc, Please do share! If we can reach out to more women and remind them that where they are IS important (and will be different than where others are), God will smile and think, “Now that’s MY people!” Also sorry for the slow response … it was night time in China and I was sleeping :) Amy

      • northpointcc says:

        I understand – I have a son and daughter-in-law in New Zealand – we have difficulty keeping track of their schedules. God bless!

  16. northpointcc says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am a pastor and a friend pointed me to your Blog. We do not have mothers stand in our fellowship but give each of the ladies a small gift. In previous ministries we have had the youngest mother, oldest mother, newest mother, mother with most children and mother with most children present stand and gave them special recognition. I remember times feeling awkward knowing of a mother who had just lost a baby or another whose children had run away from home. Your tributes are incredibly appropriate. I wish I had asked a lady years ago about Mother’s Day. Unless you object, I would like to use this to honor the ladies in our fellowship. Thanks!!!

  17. Cousin Nancy Begg says:

    I have never given much thought to this until today (you open my eyes quite often, I find) and agree wholeheartedly. I have a friend and on the day I met her, I asked her how many children she had. There was a very long and painful pause and she finally shared with me that she had had a child that was stillborn and she didn’t know how to answer that question. That gave me pause and I was definitely more careful with that question from then on.

    I also feel that a pregnant woman is a Mom. A woman gives more to that baby then than she ever will after the child is born.

    Keep up the good work, Amy. You are a bright spot to me every day that I check and find a new blog from you.

    • Cousin Nan, you bless me with your words! I usually feel bad for someone when they ask about my children and I tell them I’m not married and don’t have any. Crickets! I’m fine with my status, but it’s not something people would know if they don’t know me (and if they know me they wouldn’t be asking!) — it’s such a catch 22. Love you! Amy

  18. Valerie says:

    Thank you, Amy!! If you don’t mind, I would love to share this with some friends (I really love the italicized portion). You are very courageous! Especially as one single woman who feels a bit uncomfortable at times, too.
    You are the best!

    • Valerie, Please do share! Courage to us all, life is not for the faint of heart — whether you’ve had children, wanted children, or not! Thankfully, we do not walk alone or without the help of the Holy Spirit.

    • Sarah O says:

      Valerie,
      I too am single (in my 30’s) and want very much to have a husband and children. Mother’s Day is uncomfortable. For me it’s the longing to be in the club, but mostly I hurt for my sweet friends that are unable to have children or have lost children.
      Amy, thanks for putting in words what Ive thought about for a long time.

  19. Oh, Amy… This was so powerful and helpful for me. As a single woman who has never been pregnant, I was kind of blind to this issue. But reading your words here speaks straight to my heart.
    I feel like I have more to say about honoring the spectrum of womanhood, but I can’t even find the words. This was a great post– Thank you!

    • Bristolm, thanks for adding to the conversation! Keep searching for the words, we need your voice and perspective in the convesation! :) Amy

  20. Oh my! Beautiful, Amy. This needs to spread. Mother’s Day at church can be so uncomfortable for so many reasons.

  21. This post makes my heart beat faster. I’m the worship leader who’s married to the preacher and we are among the childless families in our congregation even though we’ve wanted (and waited) for things to be different. The day is difficult, to say the least. Thank you for bringing these words and suggestions to the world. Gives me a bit of hope for this Sunday.

    • Oh Mandy, sadly there are far more in your situation than we realize. I will be thinking of you on Sunday. He is the God who sees, and he sees you. Praying for you as I type this. Amy

  22. Amy, although I have three happy boys of my own … Mother’s Day is often a day that I too, would like to stay home from church. My first child a daughter died after five days and my heart breaks for the pictures on the bulletin of a mom with her daughter smiling and carefree. Plus I think of the mom whose child died and she has nothing to fill her arms. I think you letter rings true with many women. Thank you.

    • Robin, thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Your daughter will always be a part of your family, I’m sorry she didn’t get to physically be a part of it for a much longer time! Amy

  23. Lovely. Just lovely. I’m a recent mom and, like you, was never bothered by mother’s day before I became a mom. Now, with kids, I’m hearing all sorts of those on the “other side” – those with miscarriages, those waiting for adoption papers to go through, those saving for fertility treatments… I had no idea the notion of motherhood was so messy, and I’m learning to be sensitive to it. Thanks for finding a beautiful path that both celebrates and is sensitive for mother’s day.

  24. Katie Brown says:

    Beautiful!! Amy well said. I am a new Mommy with twins they are 5 weeks old and my heart rejoices, but I have been on the other side many Mothers day. Praise be to God for the women who have give to us in so many ways! I have felt the “pain” of Mothers day, lets celebrate all the wonderful women in our lives! Cheers Amy!

    • Oh Katie, you bless me! You are so busy with your dear wee ones, yet you find time to comment. That, my friend, is love. Thank you for loving me :). Kiss the sweet babies for me! And the BIG baby, scratch behind his ears! xoxox Amy

  25. Hi friend,
    Your words resonate with me. Being someone who married in her late 30’s and would like to have children, it has been important for me to recognize and truly know that even if Abba doesn’t bless Marco and I with our own children, the nurturing side of me is not lost. Abba has given me so many opportunities to make real contributions in people’s lives. I am filled with joy by this.

    Saying that, being a step-mom has opened a whole new door of my life: Loving three young men (23,22,20) in a way that I didn’t expect. I find myself thinking about how to help them when they ask, trying to encourage them in ways that are meaningful to them and feeling a strong sense of wanting to protect them.

    • Oh Cynth, I love you. This mothering instinct is strong, isn’t it?! I’d love to see you in action with your growing clan. With love, Amy

  26. Ron Swanson says:

    Great Amy!

    • Ron, you are the first man to comment here. (I get it and knew that there would be more comments from women, but still, we need you men!). Thanks for making a public gesture of love. Amy

  27. So beautiful, thank you so much for writing this. As someone who has traveled the heart wrenching journey of infertility then infant loss and now motherhood itself I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote.

    • Rebecca, as one who has experienced so many forms of heartache and loss, thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Amy

  28. As one of the “infertile”…in body at least…it is EXTREMELY HARD and PAINFUL to look at this day of celebration!!! Yes! It SHOULD be the happiest day of our lives…as women, but not having had what I could’ve, (as growing up), it’s been hard to also be infertile. My heart pains for each of you…but yet rejoices in so many of you…who have shared your hearts with me…and have “loaned” me your children to “love on”….I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!!! :) :) Yours is the reward for letting them sit with me in church, invite me to their parties, etc. YOU have done what you can not imagine!!! :) And I love you for it!!! :) Carol

    • Carol, true, true, true! I don’t always understand how pain and joy can be so closely related, but they can. I am grateful that in the midst of pain you still show up. Amy

    • Carol, as a mother in the pulpit whose husband could not always attend church when our son was small, I can promise you that people like you are at least as much a gift to the mothers of the children you take under your wings as they are to you. It takes a village to raise a child, and most of us are extremely happy and grateful to share.

  29. Sharon O says:

    I posted this on my facebook page. Awesome truths… I dislike mothers day for many reasons, the same for why I dislike fathers day. Not all parents are ‘wonderful’. Not all adults are parents.

  30. I used to dread Mother’s Day and didn’t go to church that day. I was the one with 6 miscarriages. I was the one who sat there fighting back tears. I wanted to go to support and honor my own mom but finally just had to stop and support myself. I did also write a letter to our minister pointing out the similar about the standing up. I told him that I thought it best to just wish every mother a happy Mother’s Day. Whether you were a mother so a child here on earth, one in heaven, one in your heart, one in your dreams or one to a child that you just love and care for in the littlest way. Sadly, it was never mentioned.

    • Peggy, thanks for speaking up and talking to your pastor. I’m sorry he didn’t hear you, but as you can see from the comments, your sense of what would be helpful was right on target. Six miscarriages took my breath away. You are a mother. Too keep trying and trying and trying. Love never quits. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Amy

      • I had had 6 at the point I wrote to him. Determination brought pregnancy 7 and we got a beautiful daughter. 2 more miscarriages then finally, pregnancy number 10 worked and finished our family with another baby girl. She was born on December 22nd and came home on Christmas day… 9 years to the day that we were in the ER for our first miscarriage.

        • I love the redemptive elements in so many stories (I actually believe that all have some elements of redemption, but in the pain sometimes we miss them). Thanks for shring more of your story! Amy

  31. Reblogged this on A Robin Hood's Musing and commented:
    Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are the hardest services to do to honour, thank you Messy Middle for these ways.

  32. Well said! I am forwarding to my pastor…hopefully he still has time to change the service on Sunday!

  33. I am left with no other words than thank you at the moment, although I’m sure they will come to me, and possibly inspire a blog post of my own, since this year will hurt even more than the past years. Sincerely thank you for recognizing the rest of us!

    • StrawBerry, I’m praying for the pain you have experienced this year. May God send other ministers of his grace to you. Amy

      • Thank you for your kind words and bless you for everything. I did end up making that post and thank you for the inspiration, I credited you and shared a link back to this, and I think it helped give me a little more courage to share my story of why I appreciate your blog post so much. I hope it can help other’s in my situation.

  34. Mandy Barrett says:

    My son Braden was stillborn at 38 weeks in 2010 and this year we suffered through a miscarriage at 11 weeks. The Mother’s Day following my son’s death our church decided to have it’s baby dedication on Mother’s Day. I was heartbroken. A day I really needed to be at church, and I just couldn’t go. They are doing it again this year and after my recent loss, I just can’t bring myself to see that. I love what you have written here. I saw your post on Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope on facebook. I truly appreciate your understanding of how hard it is for women who don’t have, can’t have, or have lost children. This is just what I needed to hear today.
    Thanks,
    Mandy

    • Mandy, I am left without words. There are so many other times to dedicate a baby. So many. Why then? I know that people are well meaning, but seriously? I hope that someone from your church will come on Sunday and sit with you at home and hold your hand. I’ll be praying for you, Branden, your little on in heaven and your husband this weekend. Amy

    • I have been where you are. I am where you are. Know that I am thinking of you and praying for you today – and tomorrow. I wish I could be there to hold your hand, and you mine.

      God bless you.

      • Mandy Barrett says:

        Thank you Kristy! It warmed my heart to read this. I am thinking of you and praying for you as well. This month we are starting the journey of trying to conceive again with all the hope and fears that brings (with the help of a specialist this time). Thank you for your kindness and reaching out. I once saw a picture that said “Sisters through babyloss.” Doesn’t that feel true? It connects women.

  35. Amy, I saw this on FB through Faces of Loss Faces of Hope and had to share the link! I so agree with your well-written words. I have been the woman who endured Mother’s Day at church and had to sit when other women stood or never received the complimentary flower. I never agreed with the practice because even though my babies are in Heaven, I was still very much their mother in my heart! I’m blessed this year as in March my miracle baby, Journee, arrived, but I will never forget my four lost little ones and I will always have compassion for the baby loss Mamas! This makes you think twice before participating in any rituals that honor just certain women! Amen and amen!

    • Janielle, four (!), each one with a story, a hope, a dashing of dreams. They do count (maybe not always outloud!). Welcome to little Journee and for sharing a bit of your journey! Amy

  36. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Seriously THANK YOU! I have lost I have 2 babies in heaven we lost our son at 2 months old in April 2010 to SIDS then a our daughter at 18 weeks in December 2010…I also have 2 babies here on earth that I love to pieces…but I struggle with Mother’s Day a lot…I have since 2010 and this is so right on! I actually pasted it onto my pastor in hopes he reads it on Mother’s Day…cause there are women in our church who struggle with each of these things…and no one acknowledges us…

    • Melissa, your comment reminds me that behind the curtains of each of our lives there is so much more going on than we might ever guess. Thanks for lifting yours and allowing us a peek. Amy

      • So true to most I look like I have the perfect family 1 boy and 1 girl a wonderful marriage…but deep down they have no idea that everyday I cry, everyday I hurt…because a piece of me is missing…

  37. Thank you for putting this so eloquently. I concur wholeheartedly!

  38. You pretty much nailed this. My church does the same thing, and I think it’s obnoxious, and exactly what you said: alienating.

  39. Reblogged this on Ambrosia and commented:
    It’s like this woman took these thoughts out of my head:

  40. I came across this article on my Facebook feed through a Faces of Loss Faces of Hope status. This Sunday will be my first Mother’s Day since losing my first baby to miscarriage this past December. Thank you so much for writing this. These are all the things I’ve been wanting to say but didn’t know the right words to say them. Thank you!

    • Kayla, I am deeply sorry for your loss. I hope it will be acknowledged this Sunday, but even if it isn’t there — it is here. Amy

  41. This is wonderful! I am a mother to 3 great little girls, but this day hits me hard for another reason entirely. I am a motherless only child. My mom passed away almost 4 years ago, 2 months after got married, and 3 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my twins. I love this post. I never understood how hard this day could be until I became a mother without one of my own. I also know friends who have lost children, can’t have children, or want them but aren’t at that point in life and this day makes my heart for them. I am so glad to know I am not the only who feels this way.

  42. Great message! I would encourage everyone to also remember that there WILL be women in your congregation that have experienced abortions. They may now have children or may not, but they too are mothers who will hopefully reunite with their pre-born children in heaven one day.

    How bout we just recognize everyone that HAD a mother at some point? =)

    • Carol, thanks for the reminder! You are right and I should have included them in the list, I’m sorry I forgot them! Amy

  43. Amy, I am a pastor and I will consider your words…. we don’t mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable, only to celebrate a gift that God has given to many women…motherhood.
    I do not believe that because a woman does not have children that she is cursed by God…His plan was different in their lives.
    Mothers Day is the ONE day that we celebrate Moms. They are special…. But so are you.
    Perhaps we as pastors should find other ways to celebrate those who did not, could not, or lost, a child…
    As I said, I will consider your words…Thank you.

    • Todd, thank you for considering this. I don’t know if you were able to read through some of the comments, but hopefully they add some more context as you consider how to honor moms. I’m not against honoring mom’s! I love and celebrate mom’s, it’s just that I’m not sure we are blessing as many as we might be hurting (very, very unintentionally). Amy

    • Todd, there are many other day’s for the church to celebrate motherhood and womanhood if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. You can preach on Mother Mary (even as a protestant), you can acknowledge the Biblical women who took on spiritual leadership in their communities throughout history, and you can speak of honoring your father and mother whenever you preach on the 10 commandments. If you only honor women one day a year, you are neglecting a great deal of the Gospel message. You turn Mother’s Day into a patronizing pat on the head by doing so.
      The Rev. Holly Boardman recently posted…Will Your Church Step Up?: The Challenge of Human TraffickingMy Profile

    • This is indeed a beautiful poem. As a Pastor I make a point of including all women as we acknowledge and celebrate Mother’s Day in our church. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate moms; with that said I believe that we all, have a reason to celebrate this occasion regardless of our circumstance because even if we are not a mother we know one. My husband loss his mom and sometimes it is difficult for him, but he has learned to celebrate her still, as he celebrate me as his wife, the mother of his children, whom have also experienced miscarriage; and my mom. As for me, my focus is on celebrating my mom and so many other women who are great mothers or examples of mothers. In or service, we make all of our women and our men feel special regardless of their situation, because a mother is so much more than giving birth. This does not make light of women who do not have children, regardless of the WHY. The Lord has planted purpose in us and He has a plan for all of us and sometimes we’ve just got to make a choice to celebrate. Amy excellent job! With your permission , i would love to share this with my congregation, I know that it will be a blessing!

  44. Svaidya says:

    I am not a Catholic and come from a country where Mother’s Day is now celebrated because of Western influences, the ‘celebratory day’ did not exist when I was growing up. While my kids wish me on Mother’s Day, I can not bring myself to wish my Mom or MIL on this day, just because I do not feel ‘connected’ to the day.
    But the article is so well written and it tugged my heart even if I have never been a part of any special services, or even ‘celebrate’ the special day. The ‘continuum of motherhood’ is truly thought provoking…

  45. As a pastor, I am no stranger to the sentiment expressed by Amy and those who have left comments. I find myself perplexed that no one has mentioned their mother? My perspective of Mother’s Day is that each of us has a mother and Mother’s Day is an ongoing reminder to fulfill the fifth commandment to honour. Absolutely, Mother’s Day will be the trigger for a flood of uncomfortable feelings for the plethora of life situations identified here – and more – so the rest of the year we foster an environment of honesty and authenticty and healing and caring support and rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I don’t think it is possible, though, to eliminate from our lives any situation that triggers our pain – nor is it desirable. Such an existence would be sterile. Is it really for our benefit to avoid/eliminate personal suffering?

    • Martin, I appreciate your perspective. Amy

      • Amy, your grace is compelling! I, also, appreciate your perspective and will remain unsettled in my thoughts because of you.
        Sincerely,
        Martin

    • I’m a woman who was abused and abandoned by my mother. So no, I don’t celebrate mothers day. It often takes my breath away, and I usually volunteer to work in our church toddler room on that day. I am a mother of 5 myself.

    • I agree with Martin.

    • The Rev. Holly Boardman says:

      Martin, I applaud your Biblical perspective in this whole issue. I am tired of the sappy comments in this post and the sappy comments regarding motherhood.

      As a single woman, I struggled for many years about how I should approach this day in the pulpit. I seemed to keep putting my foot in my mouth. Finally, I settled on a simple plan for Mother’s Day that seemed to work well in most churches. I acknowledged the holiday during the children’s sermon, and I invited the children in the congregation to honor the women in the church by passing out Hershey’s kisses and hugs to all of the women. (We did the same on Father’s Day). I mentioned parenthood as part of the pastoral prayer and asked for God’s blessing and wisdom on all those who nurture children.

      Finally, I chose to preach an exegetical sermon rather than a topical sermon. If I happened to be using the lectionary in my preaching, I stuck with the lectionary. Otherwise, I would choose a text such as Psalm 23, or something about love; but the focus was on the SCRIPTURE passage rather than motherhood. As a pastor I could avoid sappiness by doing this.

      With this plan I finally hit on a solution that allowed me to maintain my integrity in the pulpit. By the way I do the same kind of thing on other “secular” holidays in the church. (I never preach on patriotic topics near the Fourth of July for example; but I do pray for the leaders of the government, etc) It is important for pastors to keep the focus on worshiping GOD in church.

      As a retired pastor, now, and as a single woman with no children, I generally stay home from church on Mother’s Day now. I send my Mother a card and telephone her; but I chose NOT to attend church. I hope my comments will help other pastors who read your post.

      • Rev Holly, thanks for your helpful thoughts. I believe that preaching exegetically or using the lectionary and focusing on God is beneficial. Appreciate such a meaty comment! Amy

  46. Wondeful sharing of what I have felt for many, many years. Thanks so much!!

  47. All I can say is Thank You for shining a light on my feeling

  48. Thank you for sharing this very sensitive subject in such a loving way. I lost my mother when I was 16 and Mother’s Day has been a struggle ever since. Although I credit my healing through God’s goodness and love, especially since the birth of my own daughter, I am still very sensitive to the hurt and unknowing situations of other women around me for ALL the reasons you have mentioned. As much as I enjoy motherhood, I still do not go to church on Mother’s Day. Like you said, it’s “A.w.k.w.a.r.d.” I think every pastor, friend, husband, advertising agent could benefit from your insight. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mary, yes, yes, yes! Healing can come and has come for so many — I’m thankful it has for you — hoping that a few more will experience some more healing this Sunday as we hold our arms open wide for all. Thanks! Amy

  49. Amy, this speaks to me in so many ways. I have struggled for years wanting children and knowing through prayer that that is not God’s plan for me right now. Thank you.

  50. Roslyn Stoddard says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m right there in the messy middle and always opt out of attending services on Mother’s Day.

  51. Amy – this is excellent – thanks for seeing so far beyond the day and bringing in all the pain that can be associated with the day yet redeemed by recognition.

  52. Myra Barlow says:

    As a friend said about this post – “great reminder to be gentle and loving.”

    I also have been wondering along with Pastor Martin – what about honoring Mothers? As a Mother I am proud to receive acknowledgment for being one with great joy and also with great sorrows. Although I have experienced many of your defined types of motherhood, and fully comprehend the pain in many of these ways, including loss, I hear a lot of ‘it’s all about me’ going on (it’s just what our society breeds). I encourage you all to honor your Mothers, the ones who raised you, come along side you and loved you – biological or not , those long term or seasonal. Celebrate them. Remember how they’ve come alongside you and in turn pass that along . . . no matter what your circumstance as a Mother or a non-mother, there will always be children and/or adult-children who need a ‘Mom’ for a season or life that don’t have one.

    If they do the stand up thing . . . go with the flow or don’t, celebrate your Mother(s) then go be a Mom to someone. Volunteer to hang out with kid’s somewhere, you are needed!

    • Thanks Myra! I didn’t mean to overlook honoring mothers. One can only put so much in one letter before people won’t read. That would be a great follow-up letter! Amy

    • I can appreciate your perspective, Myra, but for me, I hear, just get over it. I have suffered severe depression and anxiety with my miscarriages to the point of being suicidal. Four years later, I’m not suicidal, but I battle depression every day. It’s not something where I can look and see “there are always children who need a mom” or “be a mom to someone”. I cry when I see kids playing with parents. Even though, I have a stepdaughter now, I have no connection to her. She is my husband’s daughter, but she’s not mine. It took me a year before I could even spend any time with her.

  53. Linda Crites says:

    One time I was asked to speak at a church on Mother’s Day. The pastor said he usually spoke but it occurred to him that, since he was a man, not a woman, perhaps the women would like to hear another woman speak to them on this special day, so he asked me . I was so honored, but I’m not sure it was what he wanted. But I prayed, and this is what I felt God gave me. I talked about four kinds of mothers: (1) people like me who became a birth mother quite young, not a life goal, just happened (2) my sister, who dreamed all of her life of having children (3) my friend Melissa who married a man who already had children and chose to not have children with him but help him raise his (4) a dear older woman who had no biological children but spent her life mentoring others. As I read what you wrote, it blessed me and I just want to thank you.

    • Linda, I love this! Even if it wasn’t quite what your pastor had envisioned, those who heard it saw themselved mirrored, not in a Hallmark standard, but in the messiness of real life. Amy

    • Yes! Include birth mothers, godmothers . . . has anyone ever read the teen novel where the main character talks about her “Mother Pie” — the many individuals who have helped mother her to maturity? I like that.

  54. I find that on Mothers day I can focus on my own mother. The season of pain for me is Christmas. I’m finding as each year passes, celebrating THE birth throws in sharp relief the fact that the only one I’ve been privileged to take part in is my own.

    • Charis, yes, yes, yes! I know that Christmas can be another challenging one to celebrate/honor and yet acknowledge that it isn’t all “happy, clappy.” Thank you for the reminder. Amy

  55. This is a great post and speaks deeply to my own heart. I have struggled with infertility over 8 years and have also had a miscarriage. Needless to say Mother’s Day is one of my least favorite days of the year (although I believe honoring mothers to be a wonderful and important thing to do.) I know my pastor means only the best, but I’ve stayed in my seat far too many years to subject myself to it again. I plan to stay home in favor of sleeping in and some time alone with the Lord.

  56. Thank you, Amy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You so beautifully expressed what I have felt for many years. Dealing with infertility, miscarriage, and early infant loss, Mother’s Day has become a dreaded holiday for me. After years of suffering through baby dedications and all the other pomp of Mother’s Day church services I will not be attending church on Mother’s Day this year. It’s simply too difficult on me. Thank you for acknowledging the wide continuum of Mothering.

  57. Jennifer says:

    Been there, done that. Thanks for saying out loud what I felt all those years. I still don’t go to church on mothers day…

  58. Brian & Lisa says:

    I shared this with my father who is a pastor and he has decided to change-up the morning service this week! My sister struggles with infertility and so did my mother for many years so it hits close to home. My father is having the women’s ministry director read that one long section (“To those…”), the moms are not standing up this year, and they’re putting the gifts in the back for those that would like one. They are recognizing the things women do in general instead of just what moms do in the home. Thanks for posting this!

    • Lisa, wow, to know that we all here have impacted at least one little neck of the body of Christ, is both humbling and exciting. It sounds like ALL women will be celebrated. Please thank your dad and let us know how it goes! Amy

      • Brian & Lisa says:

        You’re so busy replying to all these comments, I don’t know if you’ll even read this one! =) I talked with my parents and they said the service went really well. The women’s ministry director read your little poem, they didn’t have anyone stand to be recognized, and they offered the small gift to all women who would like one – in the back of the church as they left. They tried to honor all women in general and what they do for the church, not just in the family. The focus was not on “moms”.

        I’m a missionary in Peru and the contrast was amazing. It’s so interesting to us: our church does not even recognize Easter, but Mother’s Day?? My goodness – it’s all out. We literally sang 2 songs as a congregation and the entire rest of the service was focused on Moms, including a competition for us moms with young children to dress up our kids and come up front for prizes. Easter isn’t recognized because it’s “Catholic” but Mother’s Day is something else…

        I have to say, I don’t know you, but I think it’s amazing how gracefully you have answered some of these comments from others who obviously don’t understand where you’re coming from. That’s a rarity; I would get too heated to even want to respond to some of these comments! Thank you for being bold enough to write this post to begin with and for being gracious enough to take the comments as they’ve come, good or bad. My sister even found this encouraging and she really, honestly has nothing to do with Mother’s Day, so you touched something there, hopefully a chord that will help her heal.

        Thanks again –
        Lisa

        • Lisa, I love getting to peek into a Sunday morning in Peru! And to hear what it was like at your folks church as well. I’ve also been surprised/encouraged by the response from those in a variety of places of faith — especially when the very title was not, shall we say, subtle. Thanks for “reporting” back to us what’s happened since your first comment.

  59. The way that you expressed this issue, it’s like you took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you!! Thank you for verbalizing what I’ve been feeling for years! For sharing the view of childless mothers! For kindly sharing with our Pastors that playing the stand up-sit down game at church is not nice! Especially thank you for making me feel, for the first time in 5 years, that I’m not completely selfish for feeling this way! I feel affirmed by this post. God bless you!!!!

    • “The standup-sit down game” — love it (not the game, the name!). I’m hoping that if you had a chance to read the comments you’ll see that you are, most definitely, not alone! Amy

  60. “I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat.”

    There is a larger problem here that goes beyond the honoring of mothers centering around self-worth. Somehow, those who sit feel less valuable than those who stand. The mentality is ‘because I am a woman and I am not a mother, then I am not as valuable as the woman who is a mother.’ The woman who stood up as a lie, did so, because she felt more ashamed to be sitting than she did lying.

    Why this shame? Why does the woman feel this way? This could be a result of numerous factors from the expectations of herself to family to society. Does this same person have the same feelings when veteran’s are honored and she is left sitting? Or even when father’s are honored and she is left sitting? Obviously, it all depends on whether she thinks that she is expected to have children to be valuable.

    Is a woman who doesn’t have children less valuable than a woman who does? No. A woman’s worth and value lies with Christ, not her actions or even her childbearing.

    But this is not what the whole event is about anyway. The church gather’s corporately to worship God, not the individual. We honor mothers corporately in obedience to the Biblical mandate that we should honor our mother and father. The church does this corporately as a demonstration of obedience which should be fully exercised privately by us all for we all have parents. We should honor our parents.

    Now, it could be that a woman in this position might say to herself, “this isn’t about me, but about honoring others.” She might take joy in honor those mother’s who are standing. Even the woman how has suffered through a miscarriage could share in the joy of others. Even the woman who cannot bear children can share in the joy of those who do.

    So, what is a woman in this position to do? Should she change the worship service to suit herself? Should she walk out because of her own feelings of inadequacy? Should she seek to have Mother’s Day banned all together? Or, should she rejoice with her Christian sisters and move to honor them?

    • Brother, I find it interesting that you as man would feel you are in a place to even attempt to address or understand what a woman is or is not feeling on Mother’s Day.

      My personal view is I agree with Amy, that is why as a pastor I have always honored all women and we have all women over 18 stand to honor them, bless them and pray over them. God has blessed “women” with a heart and compassion to nurture and love people that is not predicated on birthing them.

      I think Mother’s Day is a wonderful thing to celebrate and should be embracing of the essence of motherhood not whether or not you have biologically had a child. I happen to be blessed with a wonderful mother who has represented God’s love well but I have had numerous other women over the years that have been surrogate mothers to me as well.

      Thank you Amy for having the guts to share what you and thousands of other women experience on Mother’s Day when it is not represented well. I have no doubt that God has equipped you with all the love and compassion needed to be a mother to countless people. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Tiffany says:

      Blake, society, especially in church, puts an enormous pressure on women to become mothers, which causes those of us women that don’t have children (for a multitude of reasons) to feel shamed. Complete strangers feel they have the right to ask me why I don’t have children, when I’m going to “grow up and have kids”, or tell me that I am not a “real woman” because I don’t have kids (yes, I have personally experienced all of these). As a man, you don’t experience that shaming, but I assure you, it’s there. After a lifetime of these experience, when you’re one of the few women sitting while everyone else is standing, it feels very much like everyone is looking down at you.

      I understand what you’re saying about honoring parents, and I do honor my mother. But I go to church to honor God, and I honor my mother on my own time.

  61. Randal Kay says:

    By the number of posts you received I guess you touched a spot for lots of people. As a pastor who has struggled every year as to how to handle or not handle Mother’s Day or Father’s Day for that matter, not to mention, for us, Independence Day, I appreciate your thoughts

    Would it be OK to use your “prayer” as part of the beginning “slide-show” we run as people arrive? I believe you cover it well.

    One more thing I think we pastors would do well to remember is that it might be a whole lot easier if we would only “celebrate” those days described and / or called for in Scripture and remember that most of the “other” days are more a promotion to buy more Hallmark Cards!

    Thanks again!.

    • Randy, yes, please use the prayer! You touch on an interesting point, one that I’ve been thinking about in the last two days — do we celebrate only Biblical holidays? When is it ok/good/the right thing to do when a cultural habit (for lack of a better term)(like Mother’s Day) isn’t in conflict with the scripture? The church that I stood up in last year is here in Beijing. I’m of a certain age where it is just too hard for strangers to understand that I”m not married and childless. I am OK with it, but even here in China (in some places) Mother’s Day is becoming more of a thing. So, it’s not just in North America/western countries. These are good things for us to think about and wrestle with. Still thinking … still wrestling … Amy

  62. christine swaney says:

    I am a mother of four ,but I did have fertility problems .I agree with you.I don’t feel we should make anyone feel less than anyone else.This issue comes up daily when people who work make comments to me (a stay at home mom).I think we all should be more sensitive to each other.

  63. Cara McElhaney says:

    Thought of you!

  64. Oh, Ames,

    I figure I might as well talk as if we are lifelong friends, since we have the same name anyway. :) Your words resonate with this single, non-mom, almost 29 year old living in the deep South. Yes, deep south, where family is the rule. And yet, Jesus, in his gentle love, and awesome sense of humor, does this: my rotation in nursery duty is sunday. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    – From another Ames

    • Hello fellow Amy! I love it when Jesus, as you said, does things in love and humor! Amy

      • What a ministry you have by replying to all of these comments! Thanks! And just a bit about how I got here – my friend who is in Guatemala posted it to her facebook. Not sure where she linked from. How’s that for making the world smaller!

  65. My husband is a pastor and he has always been sensitive to non-Moms, to those who have lost babies or who are infertile, to women who may have had difficult relationships with their Moms and also to those who have lost their Moms. He has also been careful with the Proverbs 31 scenario…the perfect, super woman as that passage can intimidate women. We can strive to do some of those things, but no one can do it all perfectly all the time. Not only on Mother’s Day, but always, all women need to be respected and honored. Men also need to be respected on Father’s Day and year round. They may also be suffering guilt or hurts for many reasons.

    We experienced infertility and after 12 years of marriage, adopted a baby girl, then 7 years later, two toddlers. That made my husband extra careful in making all women in the congregation feel valued. Did I mention that he is a wonderful shepherd-pastor who truly cares about people and their needs? He is also a loving, wonderful husband and father!

    Personally I hate it when people are asked to stand for any reason during church services. He avoids it like the plague! Some pastors do that for silly, unnecessary purposes and often do it on the spur of the moment, not really thinking through the implications. Many congregants are embarrassed and feel uncomfortable and intimidated. Some may not return again depending on the question. If an altar call is given, that is different. A person can willingly go forward to the front or to a prayer room. They should not be “hustled” or forced. Jesus never forced anyone.

    Church can be complicated. Life is complex. God is the one who gives wisdom in all things!

  66. Larry C says:

    Mother’s Day is a day for people to honor their mothers. This woman has made it about HER. Her article screams “I’m not included” which is tacky and selfish. She may not BE a mother, but she has/had one. Bshe should be thinking about HER. I’m sorry she doesn’t get to stand. should Hallmark stop selling Mother’s Day cards just because she can’t receive one? Her attitude is typical of the “me” generation. My dear, life is not about just YOU.

    • Oh Larry, I know that :). Amy

    • Larry, I am so so sorry that this is the way you read Amy’s words. Everything about her is the opposite of selfish. I think her words were as much for the now thousands of women who have read them over the last few days as for herself. Mother’s Day is a wonderful day, and I assure you Amy believes so. Yet each of us will be surrounded by women on Sunday who have very deep hurts or longings that it seems to be taboo to discuss. Grief nor disappointment defines someone as selfish.

      • Larry, the days that have been established by the card makers and retailers do have a source of hurt for those grieving and mourning a loss or disappointment.

        Most of us cannot know or empathize the with loss or longing unless we have lived it. A lot do not recognize pain or joy unless we have lived it. If you re-read Amy post the first few lines do say let me put this into context. Here is some thoughts to consider. I am with LeAnne, I am sorry YOU read selfishness into Amy’s post.

        Valentines day is the same way. I never realized how horrible the day is for those who are single until my husband passed away. I had a Valentine for 30 years, I never considered how horrible the day felt until I had to live it alone.

        Amy thank you for the courage and the elegance in the way you phrased your post, Thank you for having the courage to remind us of the longing and loss feeling some people feel on mothers day.

        • Alison, and thank you for standing up for someone you don’t even know (but maybe are getting to know?!). We can’t all know the losses that others experience, but we can at least acknowledge them! 30 is a long time to spend with someone! Amy

    • Initially i had some similar thoughts, that yes, we as individuals are responsible for our own emotional “junk” so to speak, and it can seem selfish. That said, I don’t think that’s what the writer is getting at. I think she’s saying that churches can think outside the box, and acknowledge the celebration and the pain. We can take a “just get over it and deal with it” approach, and lots of people do, but i don’t believe that’s very Christlike. If we are compassionate, loving, understanding, we would mourn with those who mourn in the service and rejoice with those who rejoice. People’s pain and suffering is real and valid, and i took this article as just being honest. If we want church to be a place where people feel loved, safe and cared for, we need to move forward with thoughtful sensitivity.

      • I am the queen of “deal with your junk,” yet as I hear of true loss and pain, sometimes people just need to know they are not alone and then they CAN deal with the junk. The messy middle is about both Truth and Grace and the street fights that can occur between them as we try to work this out in ways that draw people in and move them in maturity in their faith. Thanks Jbeer (though I think ‘beer’ is probably your last name, if it happens to be your favorite drink, that’s cool too). Amy

    • elizabeth says:

      Not everyone has a mother, and some mothers have done more harm than good. Love for others carefully weighing whether doing something that will hurt them is worth it.

      • Yes it does Elizabeth. You hint that your story may be one that has some very painful elements. I am sorry. I am also trusting that God will bring others into your life that can do for you what others should have. Thank you for risking sharing here! Amy

    • Wow!!! I can’t believe you have said this is selfish! It is obviously alien for you to understand the pain of not being a mom when society says you’re not a woman if you’re not a mom. Society has put this stigma upon us, and posts like this, much like a discussion helps us and instead, “it’s all about me”, it’s confirmation that I’m not alone.
      Having said this, I have to wonder if you’re not a troll who just wanted to stir up arguments.

  67. Okay, sweet friend. How amazing are you? I called before even reading the comments. You’re responding personally to each like the giving person you are. You are a blessing, and I know the Father is smiling HUGE right now.

    • Dear, dear, LeAnne — I see your beautiful face as I type this (and it makes me smile). I know you! I also know that each of the many comments from those I don’t know comes with a face! a story, a place and for some reason God has seen fit in the past 72 hours for me to walk this path. My awareness and heart have been like the Grinch’s — they’ve grown two or three times in such a short time! Thanks for the excited text this morning when your friend in Arkansas posted this on FB. Again, reminded of how we are ALL far more connected than we realize. Thanks for helping make one connection visible!! Amy

  68. I can remember so clearly being a youth in church and their handing out corsages to mothers for all those random reasons. Now I am not someone who will have to face these questions in a church setting, but the general idea resonates so strongly with me. My first thought is that so many of these pains last longer than this year. With Sue’s mom having just died, this year’s holiday is particularly poignant this year. In addition to my own personal struggles with unsuccessfully trying to start a family, I also have friends whose children have died, friends who have had miscarriages, friends who have been unable to get pregnant, friends who had abusive mothers, friends who have such painful emotional relationships with their mothers, the list goes on. While I am one of the lucky ones who have a mother that I adore and rejoice celebrating on mother’s day, I know this is a complex day for so many. Thank you for your wisdom and beautiful words and for sharing your thoughts with us all. I love you sister Amy!

    • And I you, sister Laura. Knowing your journey, I am really touched that you commented. Your comment is the only one I’ve teared up over (probably because I know so much of the back story, walked some of it with you, and just love you)– Wish I could be with you and Lif this weekend as you have a “Young Sisters reunion!” I love you, Amy

  69. Ann L. Pitman says:

    Before leaving for seminary I was invited by my home church to preach before people who loved me and wanted to see me succeed. My pastor, a lectionary preacher suggested I look at the upcoming texts to see if there was one I felt most comfortable preaching given that I had no training yet. I found one that happened to fall on Mother’s Day. When I told my pastor this he said, “You do realize I hope, that Mother’s Day is not a liturgical holiday.” I did and promised not to preach a “Mother’s Day sermon.” WE both discoverd, however, that much is in the ears of the hearer. I used quilting as an image for describing my point only to discover that many heard a Mother’s day sermon even though nothing I was saying necessarily led to that.
    Fast forward 3 years, I had completed seminary and been ordained to serve a small congregation that had suffered through several divorces in recent years. In each case it was the male member of the couple who continued active church membership. At least two of them were elders on the session. I discovered that they did not plan to attend worship because given their strained relationships with their former wives they could not stand the idea of having motherhood put on a pedestal from the pulpit. I had to assure them that I would not do that. Your prayer goes even deeper. Thank you for the reminder of all the above circumstances.
    Ann

    • Ann, you raise a good point — we all hear through certain lens (of course we do!). I think it’s good for each of us to remember that we do and then to sometimes replay what we think we heard in our mind (or outloud) and ask the Holy Spirit, “is that what was said? Did I read into it? What do YOU, HS, want to say to me?”. Appeciate you taking the time to share! Amy

  70. Patricia says:

    have tried to go to church on Mother’s Day, i really have. i have tried to “feel” like a pretend mother when they acknowledge women who are around children. It’s not the same. So i have given up. Being infertile has been and will always be the single most painful event in my life. and I refused to adopt after the divorce. So i have remarried now in my late forties, and I can tell you: the pain fades, but it’s never as much in your face as it is with good Christians celebrating the greeting card-inspired mother’s day. it’s simply not worth going only to weep the rest of the day. As a pediatrician, i have been asked all my life, why don’t i have children? sometimes i’m honest and tell them. sometimes i just smile. But working with other women’s children is not the same as being a mommy. It is a huge and gaping loss, and frankly the church does not help when it celebrates women’s fertility. I understand how inclusive this is trying to be, for the biological exceptions who could not bear or adopt children. It’s just not the same. God bless everyone here.

    • Patricia, you speak truth! For those who ache to be moms, it simply is not the same. On Sunday, maybe it might help to find a different way to connect with God — maybe in nature, or journaling in a coffee shop, or listening to music while you go for a drive. It doesn’t make you better or worse for being in church on Sunday. I believe that grief can be fertilizer for the soul. But grieving is painful and can go on far longer than we might want. We are humbled to be allowed into your story a bit. Thank you. Amy

      • Patricia says:

        Hi Amy, how kind of you. I have married a dear man whose two children are grown. I am friends with them both, but miracles of miracles, theres a little granddaughter who seems to love me. I mean as in sticks to me like glue. I could hardly trust it at first; didn’t want to in any way get in the mom and dad’s way of course. And still…she seeks me out to play dolls, to sing to the rocks along the stream out back, and to plan little trips she wants. I’m breathless that i am the object of a child’s love. It is a completely unexpected, late-in-life extraordinary gift. I see where a comment earlier accused women who couldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day of being selfish; he simply can’t understand the unrelenting grief that those of us who dedicated our lives to the care of children as being unable to have them; and in the process,make the correct decision of not adopting just because i want a child to love me. The most excruciating decision i ever made,but for me the right one. i so appreciate your kindness and your sensitivity. And yes, one day, McKenzie, her mom, and I will go to France for a special trteat.Why France? because the caves of SW France are covered with the imprint of women’s handprints from thousands of years ago; i want us to connect with them. As women. And as, even as a step-grandmother, someone who has had the chance to do at least some nuturing of children within a family’s setting. God bless you richly.

    • Amen Patricia!
      At age 30 and having been married almost 9 years infertility has already made it at least unlikely that we will have children, even though we both want them. Yes, I am a “fake” mother- I work with other people’s children. It isn’t the same. It isn’t even close. Were I actively going to church right now, I would stay away on Mother’s Day. Even with the churches that try to be inclusive, everyone knows that Mother’s Day is for mothers.

  71. Patricia says:

    I should add, i was advised to adopt when i was a single woman from age 33 to 45. However, i was in the medical field, and am conservative enough to believe that i would not have been an effective parent as a single woman, particularly one who worked long hours. I did not believe adoption would have been fair to a baby or child in my case.

    • thanks for the p.s. these are the things that are weighed as people try to decide/discern what path they are being guided to take. The reminder is helpful. Amy

      • Patricia says:

        God bless you. I am now where I can walk through department stores where the children’s clothes are, but only in the last few years. gotten a bit teary reading through the posts, but am appreciative of your sensitivity to it.

  72. Reblogged this on lifeoutsideoflaw and commented:
    A beautiful reminder of how to make Mothers Day about all women.

  73. whichwaydidshego says:

    Wow. This blesses me. I would add care-givers – those who nurture in that way. Whether babysitters/nannies/au pairs or those who care for the elderly or abused/broken, they are mothering, don’t you think? I just started yoga this week & they have been honoring the mother in us all – as a single, childless 43 year old child caregiver, I have been overwhelmingly blessed. How sad that they can do what the churches I’ve attended never, ever have. Thank you again for this!

    • I would add caregivers! In giving care we are reflecting the Imago Dei — who is the ultimate (and source) giver of care. It does make me said when we are more blessed outside the church than in it. I love the body of Christ, even when she/we miss it, this is how God has chosen to make himself present on earth. Amy

  74. Amy
    Thank you for such a well worded, insightful piece. This was posted by one of the pastors wives in our church on FB. We go to church to seek comfort and are often met with our own history and grief, each of us having to work through the pain of our own history, each wrestling with god on what the purpose of life is.

    Thank you for acknowledging the pain of mothers day for some, and thank you for celebrating with others. I am leading up to mothers day with mixed feeling and only have just been able to knowledge why have have felt so horrible and a.w.k.w.a.r.d. every mothers day for so many years.

    I gave birth to 4 children, one I had to give up for adoption when I was very young. One I have never been able to acknowledge or claim as my own, and 3 that I have been blessed to raise. While I know I am blessed to have all of these children, my heart aches because the adopted child, with whom I have been re-united. Does not wish to have a relationship with me.

    The heart ache I have with this is… why would god re-unite us only to not have him in my life. I prayed and prayed for that child when I was 15 and had to give him away. I was rewarded to know that my child was safe and alive in bible college when he was 23. He is now Pastor Dave. He unfortunately has decided he does not want me in his life. The ache of that does not go away. And as much as I am thankful for all I have been given, it doesn’t matter what I do, the pain of the loss is still there. The anger at myself for not being able to let it go, and to be completely happy with what I have in my life. The pain and the anger, and the disbelief that god is letting this happen is sometimes hard to get through, as difficult as it is, I always find that god always meets me at church and I am usually able to make some sense of it.

    Bless you for your great work here in educating us on the whole picture of mothers day.

    • Alison, and bless you for sharing some of your story with us! I find that we humans (again, reflecting the Imago Dei) are complex! We can feel and experience so many things at once without them canceling each other out. Joy, pride, blessing in the three you’ve gotten to be an active part of their parenting, OH YES. Heart ache, longing, sadness and a bit of confusion with your first born? Yes as well. I’ve heard that anger is the big brother emotion that protects the little brother/sister emotion — Anger is a bit more powerful than say, sadness, loneliness, hurt, or betrayal. If you had just been happy with Pastor Dave’s (to others), Son Dave’s (in your heart) decision to not have you as a part of his life … well, that’s just not true! The anger actually indicates how much you care. God will continue to meet you as he also meets with Dave. I don’t know whether Dave will want you in his life someday, maybe not; but pain and joy can exist in the same person! Again, we are richer for hearing from you, thank you. Amy

    • Alison, I have a mix of feelings related to adoption as well. I was adopted and reunited only to have my biomother make promises that she immediately followed with rejections and lies. It sucks. Royally sucks, like a cannon ball through your soul I’d rather slide down a razor blade and have my eyes gorged painful sucks.
      I now have a step-son and 2 biological children along with my adoptive mother to add to my mix of emotions.In addition, I work doing home visits with children at risk and have seen insects do better parenting than some humans. There are many situations I’ve observed that leave my heart sick. There are a lot emotions involved when considering “mothering”.
      Another angle to this discussion is the responsiblity we have to those who need mothering, nurturing,caregiving for whatever reason. Having uterus and ovaries does not make you a mother only an incubator. What opportunities are there for you (as in all of us) to “mother” someone in need?

  75. Thank you for this. As a woman who struggled with infertility for years before having my son, I remember the pain all too well. You have reminded us to not only acknowledge but celebrate all women who touch children’s lives.

    • Jennifertinney, it’s people like you, who know many sides, that can be bridges in communities, thanks for helping to link both sides! Amy

    • Jennifertinney, people like you, who have walked both sides, can be bridges in our communities! I love how there are elements of redemption written in every comment and lived out in every life. For your bridge-y-ness, thanks for letting us walk on it today! Amy

  76. WELL said and SO very much needed! I hope every pastor in America gets hold of your message and ends this practice. AWKWARD is the perfect word to describe it for that’s exactly what it is! Not to mention UNNECESSARY!

  77. Ooooo i love the idea of having al the women/girls in the church to stand and have the men applaud them, thank them and pray for them, and read what you so beautifully wrote, acknowledging it’s a day of celebration, gratitude and sorrow. How cool would that be! Then we would ALL get flowers (you didn’t touch on the departure gifts- flowers and presents at the door). On a personal note mothers day can be a difficult day for step moms too! Thanks for taking the time to write this. God bless

  78. Infertile CJ says:

    Thank you for writing my thoughts for me!

  79. Thank you. Church on Mother’s Day is so hard – and I have two healthy chilren. But, I’ve also lost five children. I cannot spend an entire day celebrating being a mother without feeling the sorrow of losing those five.

    People (even pastors) don’t realize how hurtful they can be sometimes – entirely unintentional, I’m sure.

    My prayer is that our churches become more compassionate with regard to their women – their hearts, bodies, minds, and spirits.

    • Ah yes! As I commented earlier, the tension we can feel as we celebrate (two!) and yet remember (five!) — it’s so much easier to put things in neat boxes. “This is a happy day, behave accordingly.” But the neat boxes rob us of the complexities of life, experience, and the mystery of faith. Praying with you, Amy

      • ~But the neat boxes rob us~

        Yes, they most certainly do. And, they rob us not only of joy, but of Christian family. When I am handed Christian platitudes in the midst of my grief…I do not feel comforted. I feel as if any expression of my pain is a weakness in my faith. I feel that my hurt intrudes upon them.

        Let us live Romans 12:15. I will rejoice in my Mother tomorrow. I will rejoice in the children that live here with me. And, I will mourn the five children I only held once and briefly. I will also do my best to rejoice/mourn with those women around me – whatever their joy or hurt.

  80. Amy, I really appreciate this post. It fosters in me a greater sensitivity to the hearts of our ladies — mothers, would-be mothers, empty nest mothers, etc. As a minister, I shudder to think back on the things I’ve probably said / done on Mothers Day in years gone by. I can promise you two things: 1. No more standing! 2. Posts like this one lead us all to greater faithfulness — to weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Jason, that was my hope (sadly, maybe in that order!) — stop the standing! But much more importantly, to lead us to greater faithfulness and honoring of God. Thanks for being one of the few guys who’ve given a shout out. Amy

  81. Gary Coburn says:

    Amy, thanks for the article! Mother’s day is my least favorite holiday of the year. Why is that? I was raised by a wonderful caring mother and I’m been married for 26 years to a woman that is a beautiful mother to our four children – three biological and one adopted. So why do I dislike this holiday? It’s because I’m a pastor and I’m tired of being beat up every year by mothers or non-mothers. Some have told me that every woman who is a mother, wants to be a mother, tried to be a mother, will be a mother some day, etc. should stand. Others have said that only those who are “actual” mothers should stand. So what should I do? Here are a couple of things I’ve given thought to. First, worship is about Jesus Christ, not about us. Secondly, when we worship together it should be a place of healing – a recovery group for sinners. If someone is skipping church on Mother’s Day because of the pain of not being a mother then we pastors need to re-evaluate our lessons. Yes, we need to feel the pain of conviction about the sin in our lives but not because we don’t have children.

    So after reading your article and with less than 24 hours before I preach my “Mother’s Day” sermon here is what I’m gonna do. First, no standing. There is no way that I would want to hurt anyone and looking at so many of your comments this can be a very difficult day for many. Second, we will be giving roses to our mothers but not in the assembly, they will be made available afterward for anyone who fits “their” category for being a mother. (Would appreciate anyone’s comments about us doing this – maybe we should stop this as well). And lastly, I’m re-writing my sermon and will be using your “prayer for mothers” and quoting from some of the replies that have been written – only with your permission of course.

    Well, sorry to be so long. Need to go, I have a sermon to re-write. :-)

    Blessings,
    gary

    • Gary, yes, please use them! It’s in the comments that the real story lies, my words were merely the front door. And, Gary, we understand that this can be a tricky day for pastors. Thank you for being willing to show up, even when you know there might be some who don’t get or like what you say. And for the ways we’ve beaten you up, we are sorry. Please forgive us. We don’t say it often enough, but thanks for doing the hard work of pastoring. Amy

  82. This is probably the BEST article I have EVER read! It made me cry and it was like you were speaking through me…thinking about those who are wishing we could be “mother’s” on Mother’s Day and those who have lost their children too soon. I’m sharing this on my blog…thank you for your words!

    • Amanda, thank you for reminding us that this goes so much farther and deeer and wider and involves real women like you. Amy

  83. Thank you for your post, Amy! You rock. You get it. I stopped going to church on Mother’s Day , too. There was one church I went to for a while that really “got it” but that was a long time ago. They first had the great grandmas stand, and down the line to aunts, teachers, and any woman who has ever cared for a child….pretty much every “woman” over the age of 15 was standing and felt honored and appreciated. However, since my mom is out of state I stay away from church on Mother’s Day and spend time with God in some other way.

    • I love the idea of starting with grandmas and going from there! What a picture! Thanks for sharing it Sharon, Amy

  84. Amy,
    Thank you for writing this letter. I found it on a friends FB page. I am a single foster mother and I’m happy to say my church supports this. In the past I have felt the pains of Mother’s Day celebrations while not having a child. While others celebrate with standing and giving of flowers. When my very first foster children (sibling set of girls) were moved to another home the next Mother’s Day service was hard for me. Our pastors daughter brought me a flower and said you are and will always be a “mother” to the girls. Praying that one day soon “our” adoption will be done.
    Thanks again for expressing this pain we have all at one time or another felt.

    • I have friends who foster parent and it is one of the BRAVEST and HARDES things a person can do. To open your heart and home to someone(s) at a time that is difficult for them and love them with a love that says, “you will never leave,” but live with the reality that they most likely will leave (taking a piece of you with them). hfaith, my hat off to you. I’m praying for your adoption process as I type this. Amy

  85. reformedgrits says:

    My husband is pulpit supply tomorrow in an unfamiliar church. I am going to have him read this first! Thank you!

  86. Wyomike says:

    Well. For the most part I am cool with your blog. However. Is there any comment from the other side? Motherhood has taken quite a beating in this country. Womanhood has taken more of a beating in other countries. I am one of those guys who tries to see the positive and I try to think of the whole picture. Children came forward to get flowers for their mom. Others were asked to come and get flowers for women in general.
    Yeah. I am with you on the standing. I have really shot down the idea…”If you’re a visitor today will you please stand, die a thousand deaths and make a vow to never cast a shadow in church again even under threat of death.” Yeah. That works.
    But am I missing the point here. You are saying you don’t want to be left out. Is that a fallout of a “No one loses…everyone’s a winner” mentality of OUR culture?
    So what if you aren’t a mother. If your identity is in Christ (amen) then can’t you rejoice with someone who is in a culture that thinks mothers who stay at home don’t work?
    I will be sensitive tomorrow as I honor womanhood in general and (unashamedly) mothers in particular.
    Our (very) small rural church has 97 cents invested in some nice pink pens. Each mom gets one. Each woman with the parts and not the goods gets one. I think they are all worth honoring.
    BTW–the recognizing of the wide continuum of motherhood will be part of my service.
    Thanks for your opinion.

    • Wyomike (I’m picturing you in Wyoming, but that could be way off base!), I’m not sure what you mean by “the other side.” I’m not tyring to be difficult or nit picky, I’m just trying to get it. Is the other side mothering? If so, you’re right! That’s why several lines in the prayer addresses the different stages of mothering (those who are pregnant, those who have given birth, those who have sick children, those who have children who will be leaving the nest), as I said, it’s not for the faint of heart! I am trying to say, “The family of God is big enough to hold ALL of us, not just those who are mothers in the traditional/obvious sense. To the woman who has miscarried, you are seen. To the woman who has children in heaven and on earth, you are seen. To the woman who is so emotional because you are jacked up on fertility hormones and about ready to blow a gasket, you are seen. We are the ones who think so narrowly, God is VAST, AMAZING, and able to do SO MUCH MORE, we are the ones who have bought into Hallmarks definition (overall) and I, for one, am wanting to see God’s name made famous for all!” Amy (p.s. I’d gladly take a pink pen from you :)! thanks!)

      • Wyomike says:

        Well. I can see the vagueness of “the other side”.
        I won’t define it. This really is a sticky-wicket.
        There is the tendency to have ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to the causes out there. I try not to do that. I didn’t participate in the preparing of ‘Easter’ eggs this year. I thought the vehicle is too far from the truth of the occasion. I did get a little feedback on my decision. No digression here. Just showing you that I am a pastor who asks the question, “Why are we doing WHAT we are doing?”

        A Pastor’s Dilemma with Mother’s Day
        Lots of Pastors (men) struggle with messages for today.
        I am in good company as I try to focus on the one who truly deserves honoring (Jesus Christ) without ignoring a ‘Hallmark’ occasion…a chance to reach out to all who are present who need the love of Christ in very special ways.
        So. You’ve obviously found an issue that LOTS of people want to discuss. I hope you understood my concern about being over-sensitive. Especially when we live in a time when EVERY child is a winner and no one is a loser. Application: Oh. She got to be honored as a mother. I didn’t get to be honored. I feel bad.
        My father was a terrible dad. Father’s Day was an issue I had to work through while growing up. Now, I look to God as my Father. I found godly men as I became a man who modeled Christ to me.
        Got to go.
        Yeah. Wyoming. Cool place.
        Mike

  87. Reblogged this on Dead Beat Bible Society and commented:
    An important blog entry about worshiping on Mother’s Day.

  88. You spoke my heart! I love my church and my pastor and am very involved in many ministries but as a single 30 something never been married, not a mom, Mother’s day at church is awkward. Thank you for sharing your heart, I’ll be sharing your writing with others!
    A sister in Christ ~ Marcie

  89. Beautifully written and so true!

  90. Beautiful! Your Mother should be very proud!

    • Thanks Tammy, at least she thought my mother’s day card was clever — I posed among penguin statues and told her I was one of her most unique creations :). Amy

  91. Amen. Thanks for your post! Here’s a prayer that reminds me of the beautiful one here in your post. http://youngclergywomen.org/prayer-for-parents-those-who-want-to-be/

  92. Stephanie says:

    As someone who suffered a miscarriage the week after Mothers day last year and has struggled with infertility for the last three years, I appreciate this. I celebrate my mom and the other women in my life that are moms but a lot of people don’t understand how hard and painful this day is. Thanks for your words….you hit it write on the head.

    • I think you got right to the heart of it with “a lot of people don’t understand how hard and painful this day is.” Hopefully, a small movement has been started the creates space to acknowledge and celebrate moms (yes!) BUT also acknowledge and celebrate/sit with (which ever is needed) others. Amy

  93. This is an important piece. As a pastor (though not serving a church on this Mother’s day), I have always tried to remember all women on Mother’s day.

    This year, I come to Mother’s Day with a bit of sadness and with great respect for my beautiful 20 year old daughter. You see, she is expecting her first baby in November, my first biological grandchild. And she will not be the parent of this baby. She realizes that the best thing she can offer this child is a different set of parents. Economically and emotionally she is not ready.

    So this is a bittersweet day. And we don’t know how to come to this day. I am honoring her as a woman of integrity who is offering a special gift to another family. I love her, and the very special mothers she represents, those who put their child first.

    To all women, know that you have touched someone’s life.

    • Oh yes, while felt (often) most deeply by the woman going through something, due to the web of connections, others feel it too. To that grandbaby who will always have a place in your heart, start praying for her now! I have a niece that in the recesses of my heart I call “the one who goes by one name in my heart and another to the world.” Amy

  94. As a mom I have to admit – I love getting to stand on Mother’s Day, not to make anyone feel badly, but because I am so honored to be the mother of my 5 kids. But our church also has a time during the service for couples who want to have a baby to stand for prayer. The Church Body gathers around these couples and prays for them to have a child. It is always so moving when we have Parent Commitment Service and couples share their testimony of standing for prayer on Mother’s Day as they commit to raising their new child for the Lord.

  95. It is difficult a difficult day for many of us. I would not want to stop others from celebrating, yet struggle with the idea of centering on “moms” rather than our Savior, especially in a service where we come as the people of God to worship Him alone. I’m thankful for those pastors in my journey who have given honor where it’s due, while helping us to focus on Christ in even this area of life.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, Amy. It’s appreciated.

    • Yes! As I was trying to point to with my third suggestion, make the focus on God! and on our journeys, joys, and stuggles and not as much on us personally. Thanks for the comment! Amy

  96. :) Great insight Amy. Thanks for taking the time to write and share. I’m impressed at how far your post has traveled into other circles of people I know but you don’t! It seems you have the best Mother’s Day message this year. ;)

    • I am shocked by the connections that are being made. It’s kind of surreal when worlds clash, eh? Was thinking of you this weekend, friend. Hope all is well where you are :)!! Amy

  97. Thank you! May I please quote the italicised portion in my sermon tomorrow? Thank you for ministering to me.

  98. Great words! Thank you Amy! My wife and I are both on the pastoral team at our church and have lived the hurt that you talk about. It wasn’t until we were 35 when we adopted a newborn baby girl. Yes, she has been a bundle of joy and love for us, but the years leading up to that were especially awkward in our role as pastors. Living in the fish bowl, feeling like everybody is questioning, “I wonder what is wrong with them? Why haven’t they had kids? Do they not like kids?” along with a thousand other questions, all along we are just wishing for a little grace and understanding. The reality is that God is aware of our situation, in fact we were on his mind before we were every created. It is no surprise whether we have spouses or not, it is no surprise whether we have children or not. This is not what our lives are to be all about. They are blessings of life, but not the goal of life. Our goal is to live for him and obey God’s direction in our life – the point of being his witnesses in our broken and messed up world and making disciples. When we do that and listen to him, we will more than likely be right where he wants us. I pray that your words are taken to heart by pastors all over, they are important words. People, especially women are hurting everywhere, some more so on this particular Sunday. Grace and peace to you. Thank you for speaking up.

    Tyson

    • Tyson, and thanks for your words. There are men who feel the impact of the day as well. And contentment can come in so many forms! I am a very contented single woman, I know of married women who are not content. You’re right that our goal is to live for and glorify God and seek to find satisfaction (esp?!) in situations we might not choose. So much easier to do it consistently in situations we choose, eh?! Amy

  99. David @ Red Letter Believers says:
  100. Why would someone legitimately issue a request such as this?

    Matthew 20:15 says:
    Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is your eye evil, because I am good?

    Why attempt to take away from those who have done no wrong in an attempt to satisfy your own selfish misgivings and sinful insecurity?

    Very sad thought process.

    • Hi Dusty, I’m not sure I’m tracking with your thought process. Amy

      • Amy, thanks for responding. If you read Matthew 20, it’s a great parallel to this blog post. We can’t tailor our responses to others based on own feelings of insecurity and unattainable comparisons about God’s blessings to them. God blesses everyone differently.

        We are called to preach the gospel to all nations. That is our first ministry. So, if some of us are mothers and some of us are not, any awkward feelings based on those emotions need to be brought to God. We shouldn’t diminish the celebration of being a mother for all those who CAN celebrate that simply because our selfish and inadequate feelings are getting in the way.

        So, if you aren’t a mother, maybe you aren’t supposed to be a mother? That’s God’s plan for you, and if so, then you are committing a sin by doubting that his plan for you is somehow any less than being a mother–or by allowing those feelings to dominate any comparison between you.

        I can’t believe I’m the only one who has mentioned this here. I know your intentions were good, and I do think there is value in reaching out to the disenfranchised–especially in organized religion, but to do so at the expense of those who have done nothing wrong-simply became mothers–and to make this about you instead of them by walking out of their recognition–that is wrong. I hope you can see that.

        Thanks again Amy.

        • Hi DV, I don’t think we are on as different wave lenghts (for lack of a better phrase) than you might think. But sometimes communicating in writing is hard :), over a beer or cup of tea, I might get your point more quickly! I am one of the happiest non-moms there is. When I turned 40 it was a relief because I thought people would finally stop asking / commenting what I great mother I would be. BUT not everyone thinks and feels like I do (duh). On a day like mother’s day, maybe those who have experienced loss (in whatever form) are like the “widows” and “orphans” we are challenged over and over in scripture to be sure we tend to in our midst. Last night as I was replying to comments, I sensed “you are caring for the least of these on this day.” It’s not wrong to be a mom (another ‘duh’ comment), but maybe the way we go about honoring it might be. Just a thought. Amy

      • But DV, does the Gospel demand we have mothers stand during worship services? Paul also tells us that if something causes another believer to stumble we shouldn’t do it. Mothers Day has only been around for 100 years and it seems the Church managed to be successful without it before then. So why make honoring mothers to the exclusion of non-mothers an issue central to the Gospel. It’s just not, and if our emphasis during worship causes problems for people, it’s valid for people like Amy to raise the issue of how we deal with something like this.

      • Perhaps at times like these you have to ask yourself not somuch “is this right or wrong?” But “is it wise?” No, it is not wise to walk out of a church service because you as a minority are not being catered to on a day that has not so very much to do with your societal status. But if you feel so persecuted, so very slighted that you must do so, then I dare suggest the issue is not with a 100 year old tradition, but within your very thought processes; within your self centeredness.

    • Thank you, so much, for your eloquent way of explaining this. I had no idea had to get my reaction to this post written out correctly, but this was a great way of explaining it. And I do agree that these issues of ones insecurity and doubt should be brought to God, to be offered up to Him because they are not up to us. Thank you, thank you.

      • Rachel, thanks for commenting. Oh yes, on the “bring it to God.” (it’s gets sticky when He reminds us that the body IS his representative on earth and then that representative kind of bites you in the behind.) Amy

  101. Amen and amen! All the moms walk out of church on Mother’s Day with flowers and pins and books… But we single gals who watch their psycho crazy kids every week in the nursery leave with a bag of dirty diapers. Stop the madness! (I kid… but only a little.)

    • I think we’d enjoy sharing a diet coke! Amy

    • Ha! So an hour of diaper changing is comparable to motherhood? Please, sister. It seems to me that the error in the Body of Christ lies in that we don’t celebrate *other* roles enough. Should we then broaden the spectrum to include women who are not mothers? Hm. If I wasn’t a mother, I would not wish to be celebrated on MOTHER’S Day. THAT would be awkward. Any woman who is a mother (fostering, adoptive, birth, lost child prenatal, teen ran away) is free to stand and be recognized or take home their cheap flower. Why on earth should we make this a PC issue? The Bible celebrates motherhood, why shouldn’t we in the church??? One day a year. For what, 45 seconds that day?? We’re talking one bit of recognition for a job that we don’t get paid to do, offers no vacation time, that we can’t and wouldn’t QUIT, but where we could definitely get fired if we screw up. A job where little human beings depend on you for their very existence, in utero or postpartum. Where day in and day out for months and years there is no tangible “reward” from your little Boss who you are pouring yourself into, other than the fact that they are hopefully alive, hopefully healthy, and hopefully meet their milestones.

      I love mentors. But being a mentor is not “motherhood.” Mentors who are not parents can hold a full time job with benefits without worrying about finding or paying for daycare. Non-parent mentors by definition have no dependents. How many hours a week does a mentor spend with their mentee?

      The answer to the pain some people feel in regards to celebrating Mother’s Day, is not to abolish the celebration or water it down to include all women. If Western culture or the Church has promoted the idea that singleness or not having children is “less than”–that is very sad, and should be changed. The Apostle Paul was very clear that singleness and not having children can be a fulfilling, perfectly wonderful lifestyle.

      Overall, I think the heart of the letter is moving. I think it’s a fabulous idea to acknowledge the many aspects of motherhood, including the pain that sometimes accompanies it. But asking Pastors to not recognize mothers publicly? Because it *might* be awkward for someone else who isn’t a mother? Let’s all celebrate together, for each other. Let’s start recognizing spiritual mentors for what they do, but do not redefine motherhood over “awkwardness.” The Body of Christ is made up of many parts, none more valuable than the other. We don’t need to tell the ear that it’s really a hand, because it might feel more useful that way.

      • Wow. I’ve watched single women care for children with far more grace and love than you have shown, M. I’ve watched “mothers” quit. I’ve seen “mothers” screw up, and NOT get fired, rather stay and stir the pieces of the hearts they have broken, just to make those pieces squirm. I’ve watched single women take on the responsibility to care for another woman’s offspring, while she runs around feeling self important, ignoring the fact that her kids are desperate for her. This single woman did what she could to fill the void, day after day, year upon year.

        Paul talking of singleness was not a platitude to pat a single woman on the shoulder and say oh, you’re good, too… He was talking about a calling to be single. He wasn’t giving you a tool to use in your self righteous rant to belittle those who don’t or can’t share your ability to multiply. Your position that only mothers are mothers and everyone else needs to get over it is the very thing that makes Mother’s Day so poisonous. They aren’t second class citizens, M. For so many the lack of children is NOT their choice, far from it. They are trying to reconcile a sovereign God Who loves them, With the fact that he has not seen fit to grant in their hearts desire. So what does the church do? They reinforce the thinking that somehow, in some way, these women’s input is less worthy and valuable than those who can procreate.

        I hope that a deep understanding of our God’s love and compassion for the hurting washes over you, and that you shared that understanding with your own children. Barring that, I hope they learn it from somewhere else. Perhaps they will learn it from one of those women who should not get in the way of you having your back patted for biology.

        And please, don’t use the word “Sister” unless you mean it. A sister is one who shares the sorrows as well as the joys, not one who tells another that her pain is pointless and to get over it.

  102. A wonderful piece of writing! As one who has been through nearly the entire gamut – biological mother, stepmother, foster mother and losing two to miscarriage – it really struck a nerve. What is most painful for me is that my eldest is estranged from me because of mental illness. The bright and sparkly child I raised is now gone, lost in the maelstrom of bipolar, OCD and depression. Even though I know its illogical, I deep down feel a failure as a mother, because I can’t save my adult child – who does not want to be saved. *sigh* Its a hard lesson.

    • Oh Anne, you have been through quite the gamut. It sounds like you have managed to maintain a sensitive spirit. You most certainly HAVE had some hard lessons. I’d be curious to hear how they have been used to walk with others? Thanks for the comment. Amy

  103. Linked this on my blog! Thanks for saying exactly what is on my mind!

  104. Beautiful! I am working on transforming the mother’s room and nursery of our church, and we are putting quotes on the walls. May I use your words in the section about the wide continuum of motherhood for that purpose (credited to messymiddle.com, of course)? I think it would be a lovely way to acknowledge motherhood for women along the wide continuum of motherhood who will pass through that space.

  105. Amy – so crazy finding you here. My husband Tim was reading your blog yesterday and I said, “oh my goodness – I know her!” Tim is a pastor at a church in Bellingham and we have expressed similar feelings to the staff regarding mothers day. I very much appreciated your words. It is funny because I was actually thinking of you just a few weeks ago when I got an email from Patty. I will make sure to add your blog to my blogroll. I hope all is well!
    Best,
    Kristi Knipp

    • Kristi!!!! (yes, count them … FOUR exclamation points!) How excited I am to see your comment and the remembrance of those days on Fed. Blvd! I’m a little busy with comments now, but when I have a bit more space, would love to hear what you are up to. Oh my goodness, indeed! So crazy, so cool! Amy

  106. Perryville Pastor says:

    Although it’s already been said perhaps more than once, I verge on abhoring these secular days of “honoring” mothers, fathers, etc., instead of realizing that we ought to honor our mothers, fathers, etc., with gratitude to God for them every day. It’s too bad that we’ve become “victims” of all sorts of money-making schemes especially by the greeting cards and flowers industries.

    Having vented that frustration, I don’t have a problem honoring mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc., on their appointed “special day.” After all, aren’t we encouraged in Holy Scripture to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?

    It sort of reminds me of when I coached my then young sons baseball teams. In order to not make any players feel bad or left out we gave trophies to all the players at the end of the season, no matter how good or bad they were. In retrospect, I think that was a bad idea. The reality of life is that God blesses some in some ways and others in other ways. So, let’s rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Let’s not stop a fine tradition simply because it may not apply to some.

    Those who, for whatever reason in Almighty God’s divine providence, have not been blessed with motherhood should still be more than willing to rejoice with those whom He has blessed in that manner even as those whom He has blessed with motherhood ought to weep with those whom He has not blessed with such.

    This side of eternity true “fairness” will never been achieved. Thank God that He doesn’t deal with us according to fairness, rather, according to His mercy and grace. Let us do so with one another as well.

    Finally, as a previous responder said, the Lord’s Day is about the LORD, not His created beings. Such secular “celebrations” don’t belong in the Lord’s Day worship service. Focus on, thanksgiving to, and praise of Jesus Christ ought to consume the Lord’s Day worship. Of course, the Lord’s Day worship can certainly (and even ought to) include gratitude for the many blessings He has given us, including mothers, fathers, etc.

    • Perryville, I think people know life isn’t fair, but must we rub their nose in it? That’s all I’m asking. grace and peace! Amy

  107. Carl Campbell says:

    Blessings and thanks to you, Amy and the many who have shared their comments. I saw your writings on a friend, Brenda, who lives in Canada page. I am in the Bahamas where I am a pastor. I have church member who lives in China and her teenage son who lives in Jamaica, is flying to spend the summer holidays with her on Wednesday. Your writing is provocative, compassionate and inspiring. I have been reading you for the past two days and have found the comments relevant, historical in many family relations and so empowering. I have hit the ‘ share’ button several times and also sent it to one of the local radio talk show host. I also,will be sharing it in the service today. May we all in the faith and grace of Christ affirm, embrace, strengthen and celebrate our primary relationships in life in their rawness, tenderness, powerful potentiality and mysterious interconnectedness. My mother, Gleaker , passed away three years ago but the loving relationship continues in the triumph of the resurrection and the life of prayer by the church triumphant and militant. God bless you all.

    • Carol, thanks for sharing some of how this post has traveled. I’ve been curious some of the trails. I love this line: May we all in the faith and grace of Christ affirm, embrace, strengthen and celebrate our primary relationships in life in their rawness, tenderness, powerful potentiality and mysterious interconnectedness.

      Yes, yes, and more yes! Amy

  108. I’m leading church tonight, as a single women approaching 30. This is exactly what i was looking for. I wanted to acknowledge Mother’s Day, but i didn’t want to make it hard for myself, or others.
    Thanks.

  109. Thank you for this letter. I feel like I am understood. Thank you!

  110. Oh yes, Amy! Beautifully and wonderfully put. I was in one church where the pastor asked all moms to stand. I mentioned the pain to him, so the next year he had all moms stand and then all the women–and said something like we were all spiritual moms. That didn’t help my pain.

    Later I was in a small church that met in a nursery school. I was in the choir, which was just a handful of us that sat in front of the small congregation. The pastor not only had all the moms stand, but also then had all the children stand and say together, “I love you, Mom.” At that point, after years of infertility treatment that ultimately resulted in an ectopic pregnancy and loss of my ability to ever conceive, I nearly lost it in front of everyone.

    I didn’t go back to church on Mother’s Day after that until after we had adopted–but I still find it very uncomfortable.

    Thank you for this.

  111. Cynthia says:

    Thank you, Amy. I am a pastor–it’s the morning of Mother’s Day–my husband and I have struggled with infertility for 4 years–and the proof has come yet again today (of all days!) that I am once again not pregnant. It will be a difficult day, but your blog has helped.

    Two areas I wanted to touch on–First, to the people to whom you have graciously responded who have said things like, “Well, what about actual mothers? Why are you trying to take away their joy? Shouldn’t the church be about honoring them too because of commandment #5/6?” I have dealt with this, and I always respond with 1 Samuel and the prayers of our matriarchs who experienced “barrenness”. I point out that Torah also says that Isaac prayed for Rebekah, who was barren. They married when he was 40, the scripture says…and he did not become a father until he was 60. Assuming something like our “years”, that’s still quite awhile to be praying and wondering if God has heard your prayer. Just because the Bible acknowledges in one line a desire to have us honor our mothers doesn’t mean it also doesn’t in many many many many other lines acknowledge women for whom that would be difficult.

    Second, one other category that my congregation (which is older) is dealing with–the mother who is old enough to be a grandmother, but whose children have never had children. If I think it’s bad that many people come up to me and ask about my children (I usually respond, “Well, right now they have a flea problem, but we’re working through it.”), it’s really tough on older women who are apparently expected to have a “grandma brag book” in tow. If it’s ok, I’m going to add a brief line to your prayer to that effect for use this morning.

    • Cynthia, first of all, grace and peace to you this morning as you minister to others in the midst of your own story. Thank for those scriptural answers to these questions (and reminding us that there is plenty of room for complexity!). Please, please add a line about older women who had pictured themselves holding, playing with, and enjoying grandkids. Thanks for reminding us! Amy

  112. Amy, this is so lovely! As a pastor, a mother, a grandmother, I have found leading worship on Mother’s Day a sensitive thing. For all the reasons you bring up. Fortunately, the congregation’s I’ve served (mostly) did not expect a so-called Mother’s Day Sermon. But the day was acknowledged in prayer and perhaps a litany. Always mindful of the tenderness the day brings. Thank you for writing this. I posted it on my Facebook page.

    • Kathy, I was at two different churches today (long story) and neither sermon was about mothers. We got a good dose of the good shepherd in one and taking off the old/putting on the new in the other. Appreciate the posting. Amy

  113. I’m a pastor and I appreciate this, and will be using it in my welcoming remarks as well (I did add “To those who offer of themselves to care for, teach, guide, and enjoy the children of others – we thank you.” Hope that’s okay…) I have, in the past, done the “figure out who the newest mom is, etc.” thing, in a way that many people looked forward to. Recognizing that this is not universal, though, this year we are giving a flower to every woman. All that said, it grieves me that so many absent themselves from worship on this day. While it’s true that I may have done the “wrong” thing in trying to recognize those who are mothers, I always – always – have molded the message of the day in a way that reflects the role we all play in the nurture of the youngest and most vulnerable in our community and explicitly state that we know what a mother is because we know who God is. There is a place for a redemptive word to be spoken to all on mother’s day, and it is truly unfortunate that many who might be most in need, most able to add to the depth and diversity of the discussion, are not there to hear, speak, or reflect.

    • It is OK! Like you, it grieves me and that’s why I wanted to let pastors know. Once we know, we can do something about it. Thanks for being one who is reaching out to ALL that we need to hear from (and that would be, incase it isn’t obvious, everyone :)). Amy

  114. Amy,

    I read this from the comfort of my couch, physically and emotionally distanced from my church body this morning because I don’t know if it’s worth risking the pain of having another Mother’s Day rubbed in my face. I miss my two miscarried babies. Today I miss them so much I can hardly breathe without thinking of them and wondering about the way my life would be if I had them here.

    I know at church there will be mention of the fact that today is hard for some people, but it is tacked on as an afterthought, amid the stand-up game, baby dedication, and motherhood interviews during the service. This is so hard. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I believe the church should first look to be the arms of Christ, who is near to the brokenhearted, before conforming to a sentimental greeting-card holiday instead of switching things around as so many churches have done. During a weekend full of external griefs (like commercials, store displays, etc.), we who are wounded should be able to RUN to the arms of our church families for succor and compassion instead of staying home so we don’t “ruin the day” for others.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. They are wonderful. I will pass them on to my pastors after the Mother’s Day hullabaloo has passed for this year, and hopefully we can institute some better changes for next year. I’m so glad to find your blog and look forward to reading more in the future!
    -Abby.

    • Abby, I have always been struck by how many women in the old testament walked the lonely, trying trail of infertility (the Bible doesn’t specifically mention it, but that must include some miscarriages). It’s my night time, so my brain isn’t working that well, but off the top of my head there is Hannah, Rachel, Sarah, Elizabeth and I think there are more (others, help please!). Now, in each of these cases, they ended up having a child and I don’t mean to mitigate your pain or imply that you will have a child. Your loss is real and I don’t know what your story will be. But I do know this … you do not travel alone. I am going to pray that someone from your church body will reach out to you and that you will sense God’s presence in that gesture. Thank you for sharing part of your story, you honor us with it. Amy

      • Thanks for your response, Amy!

        Though perpetual childlessness is not statistically inevitable in my circumstances, it’s important for me to remember children are a blessing, not a right. And you are correct – scripture is full of rich lessons for me here.

        I like how the Bible says Elizabeth hid herself for five months. In my experience, women hide pregnancies that long because of previous loss, so I like to think her story may have had some miscarriages, too. And in addition to your list of infertile women, Luke’s gospel doesn’t mention any children of Anna, the Prophetess at the temple. She had suffered the loss of her spouse and all hope of having children went with him. I always think of her holding the little Christ-child when Mary and Joseph brought Him in for consecration. I imagine her joy and satisfaction in beholding him must have surpassed that of anything she would have experienced with a baby of her own.

  115. Although I have told infertile friends “Just don’t go to church on Mother’s Day!”, I never had the nerve to stay home myself. I used to cry in church on Mother’s Day because I longed for children, and then I cried in church out of gratitude for my two adopted children, and this year? This year I have teenagers. There may be sobbing of a different sort yet again,.

  116. madtortuga says:

    I pray for the mothers who have lost children through abortion, too often a choice made in desperation due to lack of resources and support. Women deserve better.

  117. I’m a Mom (and an Ami!), and I’m happy to be a Mom, but I could easily do without Mother’s Day. I have started skipping church on holidays, because they become more of a circus than anything else – have to entertain those who only got dragged in because their mothers begged them, you know. Then rather than a relaxing day at home maybe getting something accomplished, you have to run hither and thither to ‘celebrate’ however the rest of the family decides, because you don’t want to disappoint them – because that’s what Moms do.

  118. This is a wonderful and healing post, Amy! I hope pastors will read it and reflect on its message. The prayer included here is gorgeous- what a lovely way to acknowledge and affirm all women no matter what their mothering experience has been. I’ve only walked out of a Mother’s Day service a couple of times because of ostracizing actions. Though I no longer go there, I decided not to go to my new church this morning. I don’t think they would do anything to exclude the nonmothers and mourners in their midst but sometimes it’s better safe than sorry.

    • Hopefulleigh, I understand, but it also makes me sad (not that you didn’t go, but that it might be safer not to). Amy

  119. baremorec says:

    I shared this on my blog today. thank thank you thank you. you are a blessing.

  120. Thank you for this, Amy. I am a pastor and every year I struggle to find the balance that acknowledges the gift of mothers and yet clearly and fully embraces and celebrates those who for whatever reason are not. As a result I have never preached a mother’s day sermon. I continue through whatever text/topic we are in after Easter. We also give flowers to all the women (college age and up). And in our prayers of the people we pray for those who suffer on this day because of the loss of a mother or the reality that they never had the kind of mother we all long for and need, or because they have lost a child or are in a place where they see no child in their future. We especially celebrate all women who have been like mothers anyone. These are the patch work quilt of women God puts in our lives that enriches us no matter what our experience with or as a mother. Blesssings as you serve in the messy middle. It is where I live, too.

    • Candie, thank you. I wish more pastors felt free/called/confident to just keep preaching in their series — the Holy Spirit does a wonderful job of speaking to each of us the message that we need to hear. I think the messy middle is a great place to be, though not always easy! Amy

  121. Simply put, thank you for this. Too many forget what you have very gracefully stated.

  122. Thank you so much for your post. I’m sharing it with all I know. I am one of those who does not attend on Mother’s day. I love my pastor, he is a wonderful man of God…but he also does the “stand if you are a mother/grandmother/etc”. 7 years ago, I lost my only child to a rare disease. We haven’t been able to get pregnant since. No matter what I would decide about standing, it would be awkward. If I don’t stand, I feel like I deny Joey’s existence. If I do stand, then it reminds everyone else and they feel bad – or new ones who don’t know then wonder…and then they feel bad.

    Thank you.

  123. Amy, this spoke volumes to me. I haven’t been to church on Mother’s day since high school, but I remember situations like this occurring and in one case, I recall the mothers being given flowers to hold during the service. At the time I felt kind of awkward because some services included all women (even a 13 year old me) and others alienated many women. What you have written on here, is so wonderful and so inclusive of all the mother figures and those who are suffering on this day.

    My 2-year wedding anniversary is coming up and I have had to deal with all the “maybe you’re pregnant” or other pregnancy comments from coworkers any time I don’t feel well. They have no idea what I am going through and frankly, it’s none of their business what’s going on in my body. But it can be incredibly hurtful and upsetting when others are insensitive to motherhood (or the inability to be a mother).

    My situation is no one’s business, as is everyone else’s. But what we have in common is the misconception of others that pregnancy is simple to achieve and defines one as a woman. There are “mothers” of every type and these are who we are honoring today.

    Thank you again for sharing and I really hope this can be heard by all. This should be a happy day and with consideration for all, it can be.

  124. Thank you for sharing. For the past 4 years I have stayed away from church on mother’s day for that very reason. And for a couple years before that it was always “Maybe next year…” Then I told it was impossible to ever have children.

    At first staying away from church was just like you described. It was a sad day. Not anything against the moms, but I’m not one of them, and it was very sad. I just needed a day to be alone. It’s like my day when all my children died at once. I was also diagnosed shortly before mothers day, so that did not help.

    Unfortunetly this year mothers day is even harder. Other Christians have chastiesed and rebuked me for staying away. They have condemned me and actually told be if I ever did become a mother I would be a horrible one because of my ‘attitude’. Thanks for understanding.

    At least my husband has been supportive. But now, mother’s day is a whole lot of hurt.

    • If someone actually said to you that you would be a horrible mom (and it’s not that I’m doubting you, it’s that I’m saddened and so want it not to have been said), for your attitude, well shame on them. Shame on them. “A day when all my childen died.” Poetic. Poignant. Painful. Thank you for your sharing. Amy

    • I am so incredibly sorry. Your words break my heart. I have been where you are. We tried for over 5 years. I miscarried with my first, and our second died shortly after birth. I’ve been unable to get pregnant again, and now my husband no longer wants to keep trying. My husband and I were in a church that was very pro-children…which is fine. Unfortunately, if you didn’t have children you were ostracized. I was told by another lady that I didn’t have children because I didn’t deserve them. It’s unfortunate that some Christians can be so judgmental. We are in a different church now, but I still do not attend for Mother’s Day services…it’s simply too painful. It’s wonderful that your husband is supportive of you. I am blessed that mine is as well.

  125. rev. karyn says:

    Amy, as a female minister with no children, I struggle ever year to prepare a sermon on Mothers Day. But it is actually a wonderful opportunity to present the image of God as Creator and Mother. For some reason, (our sentimentality I suspect) it is the one Sunday when most people are willing to consider God in a feminine role.

  126. When we make the decision to not go to church on a day that makes us feel uncomfortable, what does that say about the days you DO feel like going to church? It is not about a day, we should be going there for one purpose only, and its not about us, this is why your post confuses me so much. What is your point here?

    • My point is for pastors (and all members of that body) to create space for everyone … and that includes the mom who on the surface may look like she’s got the ideal family. There is more going on below the surface for all of us. And if we are to truly be the body, we’ve got to get beyond just the skin (i.e. what we see on the surface). Christ was consistenly pointing people to move beyond merely what we see, saying that what goes on in our hearts is as important to God as what can be seen on the surface. I’m not sure I’m being clear, so if you want to continue this thread, just let me know :). Amy

    • I go to church to worship my Saviour, to connect with other believers, and to get spiritually fed. Instead of sobbing my way through 30 baby dedications, cute kids on stage telling stories about their Moms, and various other “Mom” things, I choose to worship at home on Mother’s Day. I’m not bitter or angry, it just hurts very badly. Having someone tell me I’m wrong or in sin for this just makes it worse.
      Being a Mom is a hard job, one that should be applauded every day. I’m not against honoring Mother’s at all. I just wish women in similar situations as myself didn’t get alienated and judged in the process.

  127. azhusky says:

    Amy – thanks for this posting. I have in turn posted it to my Facebook page. I am a 47 y.o. who grew up dreaming of a big family. Instead, I am never married and am childless. I haven’t gone to church on Mother’s Day for years. Church, in so many ways, seems geared to families/married couples. This day just adds to that struggle. I completely relate to above posters who talk about feeling of less value because they are women with no children. The church is the absolute last place that should happen!

    As for the pastor who says the day is to honor our mothers…that’s great in theory. I do honor my mom…but she doesn’t go to my church, so why would I honor her at church?

    • “As for the pastor who says the day is to honor our mothers…that’s great in theory. I do honor my mom…but she doesn’t go to my church, so why would I honor her at church?” Well said! Amy

  128. azhusky says:

    Amy- Thanks for posting this. I have in turn posted it on Facebook, amongst all my news updates about friends and their kids today…ugh.

    I am 47 years old, grew up dreaming of a big family. I have married and am childless. Haven’t been to church on Mother’s Day for years. I can’t even begin to describe the pain of no children, especially on Mother’s Day. I relate to posters above talking about feeling of less value because they’re childless. The last place this should be happening is in the church!

    As for the pastor who says the day is to honor our mothers. I do honor my mother, but she doesn’t go to my church, so, why would I honor her at church.

    Again, thanks for the post.

    Marie S.

    • “As for the pastor who says the day is to honor our mothers. I do honor my mother, but she doesn’t go to my church, so, why would I honor her at church.” I thought I’d already approved this comment :) … but here it is again, so if it’s a repeat, it obviously bears repeating! Amy

  129. azhusky says:

    I meant to say in my above post that I am unmarried and childless.

  130. ProudMom says:

    Okay, I’m not trying to stir anything up here, and I think your words are very lovely and encompass all types of mothering, (here it comes…) BUT, I believe standing in church and showing appreciation to mothers is a wonderful practice. Often being a mother is so much “behind the scenes” work that we do not feel called out to stand up enough. And now that is going to be taken away because a few people feel alienated about our standing and taking praise for this extremely wonderful and difficult task?? I think the problem lies within the person, not the church! If you feel you should be appreciated as a mother because you had a miscarriage, or your child ran away, or you are a foster/adoptive mother, or a step-mother, then STAND UP, for goodness sake!! No one said you couldn’t! You SHOULD stand and be appreciated too!! And for all of those who are not mothers, in whatever form you mentioned, you are NOT a mother, so you must sit! I do not stand on fathers day, because I am not a father! No matter how hard I try to be a father, I am not, so I must sit! Don’t take this small moment of appreciation away from other mothers because you are sad, or jealous, or feel awkward about it. That’s YOUR issue and you need to work it out yourself instead of making others feel bad about being what they ARE and taking some well deserved recognition for it! I realize this may come off as insensitive to those who have tried to become mothers and really long to be, and I am so sorry. But I will stand proudly in church and not feel guilty about it, because I am a mother and deserve a little applause now and them. Thanks, I’ll get off my soapbox now….

    • ProudMom, I think what would help are the ways that people are invited to stand. If a pastor said what you said and gave all kind of reasons to stand, it would remove some of the awkwardness. I hope you got the applause you were needing :). You’re right, mothering is hard. It is 24/7. It is a very behind the scenes calling/job. Amy

    • MaryGrace says:

      Please do not get off your soapbox. You have expressed so well what I struggle to express. Nicely said and great job.

    • Shortcake12 says:

      So what does Pastor Gary do or say to appease those who “don’t get it or like what you say”? You can’t please everyone. What about my daughters who can’t celebrate their Dad on Father’s Day because he is no longer with us? Do we need to stop all holidays because someone might feel sad or lonely or left out on that day. I’m sorry but I just don’t get it!!!

  131. Laura Trent says:

    I’m a woman, a mother, and a pastor, and all my ministry I’ve been sensitive to this issue – some would say even hypersensitive. (I insist that we get enough roses for EVERY woman – not just those who are mothers – or none at all.) If I ask anyone at all to stand, I usually turn it around and say ‘if you ever had a mother, please stand.’ This puts the focus back on basic reality and on us where it should be, because we are the ones who can honor both our birth mothers and those others who have served as mothers of one kind or another. And, I always include in a litany or prayer those who are biological mothers but who find it difficult or impossible to mother. Same for fathers when it’s Father’s Day.
    It also seems to me like a good opportunity to talk more openly about the mothering aspects of God; there’s less discomfort when we’re already talking about mothers.
    This very blog and its responses are evidence to me that I’m meeting a need in doing this. It can be an excruciatingly painful issue.

    • Laura, I, too have been surprised at the responses to this blog. There definitely seems to be a need! Thanks for reaching out to so many. Amy

  132. Barbara Bruneau says:

    Amy, thank you for such an honest and vulnerable post. I’m a pastor, and I shared a portion (the “continuum of mothering” in #2) with my congregation at our two worship services this morning; I felt that your words spoke the reality of the day in ways that my own words could not. Thank you for the boldness to share both the joy and the pain of this day in such an exquisite way.

  133. patricia McKee says:

    As one never satisfied with what I found in Scripture for Mother’s Day, this is a great piece of liturgy.

  134. Susanna says:

    Here in the UK, at least in the churches I have attended, there is nothing like this at all. It feels very wrong to me though- I am a mother but I have plenty of friends who are not though they long to be. We are all too quick to define our worth by our roles aren’t we? Rather than remembering that we are children of the King, part of a great family.To those of you who suffer due to others thoughtlessness, I hurt for you. May God give us all the grace to tread the path He has ordained and to bear the burdens we individually bear.

    • Children of the king! A king who walked with all kinds of people and pointed them back to truth, time and time again. Well done, daughter of the king. Amy

  135. joann28 says:

    At our church today, we celebrated music. All the children’s and adult musical groups participated. (That always thrills the mothers and grandmothers.) The (childless) pastor talked about the song of the universe. Women wore hats. The middle school youth group sold roses as a fundraiser for their mission trip; the roses were bought by men and children for their spouses, mothers, grandmothers, sisters. And I saw our two intellectually-challenged (single) women being given roses as well. As for standing, how about having everyone who has or had a mother stand together? And could we remember the origin of Mothers’ Day (yes, it’s secular) as a war protest movement?

  136. Cindy Gialluca says:

    Hello, You dont know me, nor I you but I saw this as a share on my facebook page. I couldnot agree with you more!! I hope you dont mind me commenting with some of my own observations.

    For some of us, God did not see fit to bless us with children of our own flesh and blood. We often wonder why, but must be content with the fact that he (or she) had a different plan for us. For me it was to be “Mom” to 3 children who’d had 2 other “mothers” walk out on them. It wasnt easy, and I dont belittle the trials of “real moms” in raising children, but add distrust “Is she going to leave too?”, resentment “You’re not my REAL mom!” and finally acceptance and love “I love you Mom.” We may not have born children of our own, but God definately had a plan for us. Happy Mothers Day.

    • Cindy, this IS a worthy role. To “remother” someone is a great reminder that it’s never too late to get something or be used! Amy

  137. Susan Willm says:

    For as long as I can remember on Mothers’ Day at my church ALL WOMEN are asked to stand to represent mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, cookie-bakers, craft makers, and simply representing the characteristics that all women have whether they have born or raised children. This morning the children delivered rose buds to every woman in the congregation–even those who were too infirm to stand.
    As we like to say, “All means all.”

  138. I read #2 (the poem) at the beginning of the worship service this morning. So many thank yous for being sensitive were given. Thank you for posting this.

  139. I have children that I love dearly and do a lot for, but on Mother’s Day I began to wonder if they had unspoken ill feelings toward me. The pastor wanted everyone that had a mom present to say something to her on Mother’s Day publicly and my children wouldn’t do it. My son was MADE to get up and say something and his demeanor showed that he really did not want to to say anything. How hurt I was. I cried, prayed and talked to them. It’s in God’s hands now. I’m giving all of my hurt to him. I encourage and speak well of myself because if I don’t who will?

    • Casie, I imagine that pastor had not forseen this outcome. I’m glad that you talked to your kids. It might be something to revisit in a few days or weeks when the emotions aren’t so high and the hurt isn’t quite so stingy — it’s not easy to hear hard things, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

      Jesus will also speak well of you! I understand the desire to stand up for yourself, but know that He will speak for you too! Amy

      • With all respect to your hurt, I would like to submit that perhaps your son simply resented being put on the spot in front of people. As an introvert myself, I can tell you that many people hate being thrust in the spotlight – especially without warning and under pressure. If Words of Affirmation doesn’t happen to be one of his Love Languages, it must have felt especially difficult and prickly for him.

        Please don’t let doubt and fear speak untruths into your mind; there’s nothing in this incident that shouts unspoken ill feelings to me – unless you count your son’s resentment against the Pastor for forcing an unpleasant situation. It would tragic for there to be a breach between you and children over this – especially when it’s quite likely they had no intention of hurting you.

        More generally, I would like to note that the question of standing during a service or providing gifts completely fails to take into account Love Languages and introverted/ extroverted tendencies. It would benefit us all to remember that the things we most resent or most long for are exactly the opposite of what someone else in our congregation wants/ loathes. It is unfair to burden to Pastors will the impossible job of finding a single solution that pleases everyone, and selfish of us to not at least recognise the equally valid intentions/desires of others – even when they are counter to our needs.

        In some instances, isn’t seeking to meet God privately – outside of church – exactly what we should do rather than something to be resented? If our hearts are deeply wounded, we should turn to the Word and the One who numbers every hair on our heads, to be ministered to where we are. Wonderful as it is, the Church is not a substitute for the healing and Grace that ultimately only come from God.

        Sorry this got long… just my two cents.

  140. Hi Amy,
    A friend sent me the link to this blog. I had three miscarriages in 2008. Two years later, I suddenly became a stepmom to a teenager who had been kept from my husband for almost her whole life. Though she is a wonderful girl, it wasn’t enough to make me still hate mother’s day. I’m estranged from my mom. We have many lingering issues from my childhood. I don’t even like leaving the house on mother’s day because everyone assumes I’m a mom – I’m 35, and everyone says happy mother’s day. A few years ago, a hardware store was giving out roses to mothers, and the cashier gave me one. I left in tears. I also don’t go to church on Sundays. I’ve been to churches that ask the moms to stand, but even those that don’t do that still celebrate moms. I think that good moms deserve to be recognized, and one day is not enough. I just can’t handle the day and can’t help but remember the babies I lost.

    • Debhalasz, I hope that you got to read through some of the comments and be encouraged by the community you walk with! It’s a much larger tribe than I realized! Amy

      • I posted on Facebook that it was a very difficult day for me, and I had more comments on that one status update than I’ve had on any other. I do have some very special friends.

  141. louannieoh says:

    I read this after it was linked at Lisa writes… My husband, a pastor, does not like to do Mother’s Day nor Father’s Day messages. He says we always beat up fathers, and esteem mothers, and leave out many. And we have never had mothers stand, and now I will mindfully encourage him to continue to NOT do this. Last year we handed out a little gift and a rose to ALL WOMEN because God has used each woman to nurture another and are valuable as women created by God. This year he used Noel Piper’s list of women for whom Mother’s Day is not happy. In one way or another each would find a place in that list where they fit. And then he offered hope from Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2. Hope extended to all in the hearing. It is such a struggle between wanting to encourage the choice to mother in our present society, as well as, the value of mothering and yet not alienate women who find themselves lacking on Mother’s Day. Thank you for this post.

  142. Well, everyone has a mother….I think that is what it’s all about, not looking down at our bellybuttons and saying, “I’m a mother…this day is for me!” ‘Cuse me, it’s for your mother, and children can be the ones to respect this day for their moms. Also, it’s not a religious holiday, so let’s get this out of the church. It’s OK to mention it and praise the mothers in the congregation, though…let’s not go overboard with this politically correct stuff. It’s the same as saying we can’t have mother/daughter, or father/daughter celebrations….I think we can.

  143. Fredelyn Calla says:

    What about those of us who don’t choose to be mothers? Do we count? Just a thought.

    • Oh yes! I’m one of “us” (it’s kind of funny that I forgot to mention it, I guess because it’s so clear in my head I forgot to use words!). Amy

  144. Royal Ann moll Camardelle says:

    Amy , I love you sister . You are beautiful to me . God has his reasons , just as he says a rich man can’t go to heaven . Cause he had all his glory days , well you just may be the mother in heaven for future children till there parents return home to heaven , and I know for a fact … Your babies are being taken care of by another rt now till you are called home also. So I admire your input for all women of the earth. It was a great joy to see it all put into perspective . Ty and God Bless you sister.

  145. I completely agree, however I would mention something about the mothers of children with special needs.

    • Yes! I tried to hint at that in one of the lines, but it really should be said more clearly and I’m sorry I didn’t. Thanks for the reminder and validation for those moms too! Amy

  146. Lisa Hadler says:

    Better yet, do away wih the recognition of Mother’s Day during worship. It is NOT a liturgical holiday!!! As a non-mom, I’m sick to death of all the consolation prizes–“You’re a spiritual mom”; “You’re like a mom to people in your life”; “you’re a mom to your dog”. Please. It’s like having Sighted People’s Day and telling blind people, “you see, too…kind of”. We all know that Mother’s Day celebrates the appropriate use of one’s uterus, nothing more nothing less. Let’s either admit that, and be painfully honest about the fact that we value some women more than others; or stop raising it in worship altogether.

    • Thanks Lisa, I see your point. Amy

    • Amen to this! I’m very thankful to be at a church that kept yesterday as Easter 6, with the only mention of Mother’s Day in the pre-service welcome. Such a relief! And I’ve found it especially troubling when I’ve been in a church that insists on honoring all women on mother’s day. Honoring all women is a fine idea, just do it on a different day, one that does not imply that women’s value resides solely in their (theoretical) ability to bear a child…

    • Lisa, first — see the comment at the very bottom about the origin or Mother’s Day. Very interesting!

      Second — if you think that all we celebrate when we celebrate a mother is the fact that she used her uterus, I think you’ve missed the point of this post. And I don’t really agree with this post. A mother is so much more than a sack of goo that produced a baby.

      Third — no matter what kind of woman you are, if you listen to the world around you, you will realize that values are not God’s values. If you are a woman called to a single life, you will feel devalued because some think you should be married with babies. If you are married with babies, and a stay at home mom, you will feel devalued because some will say you’ve given up your career to raise them, and are no moving women’s rights forward. If you are a career mom, you will feel devalued because some will tell you that it’s a shame to split your time between your children and your job.

      The bottom line is different groups of people will value some women more than others. Stop listening to them. And stop reading into Mother’s Day as a way to say that Mother’s are more important than other women. Just because it makes you feel that way, because it brings up the hurt from that group of people who have devalued you, doesn’t mean that’s what a church is doing when it honors mothers.

  147. susan schneider says:

    When I was in my 30s and aching for a child, I remember a Sunday when my congregation handed out flowers to all the mothers. I left church in tears. It no longer hurts, and I’ve found many ways to mother others, but the experience makes me very mindful of how difficult a day Mother’s Day can be for some. I always celebrate “mothering,” but try to emphasize how such a gift has nothing to do with biology.

    • Susan, thanks for sharing a bit of what happens in your church. I love getting a peek in so many places beyond just where I attend. Amy

  148. louannieoh says:

    Just read this at another blog and thought it was worthy of sharing. And her point is something we should do daily with others in our lives. Rather than focus on self, focus on weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice. http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/05/mourning_with_those_who_mourn_1.html

  149. After skimming through the many positive comments here, I want to leave something to be considered.

    I’ve walked through miscarriages and infertility struggles with close friends and relatives. They are mothers who bear a different burden than my own. I teach the children of single moms, struggling to get by, and see their hard work and dedication in amongst the frustration to find time for themselves while making ends meet.

    So, I understand that Mother’s Day may bring grief to some, and I’m not saying that they don’t deserve to mourn; they do. And I believe that the body of Christ should come along side them as they do.

    I certainly don’t disagree that the wide continuum of mothering should be honored. I think the poem you gave was nice and definitely has a place in a Mother’s Day worship service. But, I would ask people to consider the proverbial flip side of this coin.

    I think the response to find every possible way to be all-inclusive, lest we offend anyone, is indicative of our cultural need to make sure that everyone feels good at all times. It is also indicative of our self-centered post-modern values. I don’t mean here the kind of self-centered that is rude and arrogant. I mean the kind of self-centered that first–and perhaps only–considers how a specific event or action affects “me.”

    Saying that you have the “parts but not the goods” makes me wonder if you truly recognize the significance of that one, special person in a child’s life. And down playing the significance of mothers with present and living children, so all women can be included and no woman can be left out or hurt, communicates–to the new mother, to the exhausted mother with three children under the age of five, to the scared mother trying to reach her teenager, to the frustrated single mother trying to make ends meet–that a mother really isn’t that important; all the other women are just as important in the life of that mother’s child.

    Think of it this way, on Veteran’s day, do you get upset when you’re not honored, even though you strive to be a good citizen every day? As a teacher, I serve my country. But I recognize that I don’t do it to the extent that a soldier does, and I am more than happy to give those men and women a special day to receive credit for their work.

    What I think really is going on, however, is that the women without living children, the women who struggle with fertility, the women who simply have not entered that phase of life, etc. recognize the deep significance of a mother in a child’s life. But the solution to healing their wounds is not devaluing mothers. So, when being sensitive, please make sure that we are not doing so at the cost of honoring the women who have selflessly given their lives to lovingly raising their children.

    Being a mother is one of the hardest things I’ve done, and I know now why my own mother deserves to be honored a million times over. I’ve given up freedom, sleep, my body (I don’t just mean my figure), time, the ability to eat a warm meal, the ability to type on the computer without a toddler tugging at me. I could go on. When someone wants to take a moment to honor that, I feel grateful. I don’t need it, but when my church presents me with a flower on Mother’s Day, it says “What you’re doing is a big deal. Keep trying your best and don’t give up,” and it’s like a breath of fresh air. I never know if I’m doing a good job. When my pastor, who I greatly respect, takes a moment to say, “Thanks. I know you could have chosen NOT to mother intentionally. But here you are. I know it’s hard, but we do too,” it reminds me that what I’m doing is special and there are those around me who support me.

    Where else and when else do mothers get that?

    So of course, by all means, recognize mothering of other sorts on Mother’s Day; I’m not jealous of this holiday. In fact, I consider it a Hallmark Holiday and forgot today was Mother’s Day until I woke up and saw my husband trying to make me breakfast as my toddler ran in circles around the kitchen. But please do not turn it into “Women’s Day.” That will remove how special of a role a mother is. A mothering woman or a female mentor does not go through the same struggles a mother does. A mother never has a vacation from her children, no matter where they are. A mother does not get to send her children home after a tough day.

    I am blessed to have an amazing mother, and I pray I can be that to my daughter. I don’t do it to be honored; I do it so that she grows up happy and healthy, safe and good. But, the one day a year when my community says, “Hey, great work. We know it’s tough and we stand by you,” it gives me a little bit of hope that I’m on the right track.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. Amy

    • Especially at a time like Mother’s Day, when so many of us on the outside feel an extra measure of grief or displacement, shouldn’t our church families conduct the service in such a way that communicates, “Hey, great work honoring God in your circumstances. We know it’s tough and we stand by you,” too? I think that’s all Amy and anyone else has been saying here. No one here is saying your daily work as a mom isn’t important.

      • Thank you for your thoughts, Abby, but I don’t know that’s all that’s being said. What seems to be said by many is that, because some are hurting, other’s don’t deserve recognition. Or, that being a mom is no different than being a woman. Neither seem true or fair.

        I think it’s completely appropriate to say to others, “Great work in honoring God in your circumstances.” I think this even has a place in a Mother’s Day service, if a church chooses to have one. One of the sweetest things I’ve heard recently was when my good friend’s pastor, after her miscarriage, asked her if she would mind being recognized on Mother’s Day with a flower. She was very moved and gladly accepted.

        However, to down play the significance of a Mother’s role because some are jealous–read some of the comments carefully for both undertones and very strong overtones–or because some are hurt, doesn’t quite seem fair to Mothers. Yes, some people can be hurting, and will be hurting, but the church service does not always have to be structured about them. As Christians, they should still be able to rejoice for others.

        I’m sorry you feel on the outside because you are not a mother. Whether that is a struggle within yourself, or caused by those around you, it is not a truth: you are as much a part of the body of Christ as anyone else in the congregation. And, again, I don’t need the recognition. I don’t do what I do to be recognized. But, to say that other’s are insensitive for praising mothers really boils down to this: because you hurt, I don’t deserve thanks.

    • Momofnine says:

      This brought tears to my eyes. I have given birth to and mothered 9 children. I have miscarried 2 babies. I have waited for months to conceive a very longed for child (several times). I understand just a tiny bit of the pain of those that are grieving. My church (a very small one) does not formally recognize Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I am fine with this. My own husband and children do very little to recognize Mother’s Day. This has been painful for me but I let it go. I honor my own Mother on Mother’s Day and that is usually the extent of the holiday for me. But, when anyone encourages me in the tough job of motherhood, on Mother’s Day or any other time, from a loved one or a stranger, it is very appreciated.

      • Momofnine says:

        I was trying to comment on what j.m.j. wrote “But, the one day a year when my community says, “Hey, great work. We know it’s tough and we stand by you,” it gives me a little bit of hope that I’m on the right track.”

      • Momofnine, I love numbers and nine is a perfect square. While you may not be doing a perfect job mothering, you are seen and loved by the author and perfector of our faith! Amy

    • It breaks my heart and seriously scares me for the state of our culture that I had to get to comment 149 to hear truth. You were most tactful in counteracting the ridiculousness and absolutely amazing self-centeredness of the author’s perspective. Not only am I stunned that someone would feel this way, I’m stunned that there are so many who agree. It is at the very heart most un-christian to feel that because someone else is being honored, you are being alienated.

      The author writes, as if these were conundrums, “Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand?” Yes. To all three. All three are mothers and mothers stand. It’s pretty simple.

      I have to say, I am infertile and struggling with getting the funds together to adopt, ever aware of the ticking of the eligibility clock, and it has never once occurred to me to feel alienated, “dehumanized”, or “gutted as a woman” because mothers were acknowledged for a few brief hours once a year. I’m usually too busy thinking about the mothers in my life, both my own and my precious friends who teach me so much and for whom I’m so grateful. I’m also aware of who I am in Christ, and maybe it’s just because I’ve been through so much grief already, but I’m able to trust him with the path I’m on and the timing of the blessing of children if they ever come.

      Author, your issues are obviously yours, in your own mind. Believe it or not, no one’s looking at you sitting there. No one’s thinking, “look at her, she’s an empty shell surrounded by real women.” That sentence is so ridiculous I barely know how to rebut it. Those thoughts and attributions are in YOUR mind. And what you are now saying is, “Since I apparently can’t get over this hangup, could we just do away with honoring mothers on mother’s day?” With all the speaking the truth in christian love I can muster, I say for pete’s sake, stop being so selfish and grow up.

      • Oh Jenni, blessings on you sister! And I truly hope you’ll get the funds for your adoption!

      • What I find even more sad is the unashamed lack of compassion you’ve displayed. I do not find the sincere pain and sorrow of others in any way “ridiculous”. I’m sorry that you are so stunned that so many feel a deep sense of pain on Mother’s Day, and many other days if we’re being honest.
        To many people, these things are conundrums. How wonderful for you that you find them simple. Be patient with others who don’t. I am sincerely happy that you have never felt this way as a woman. How fortunate for you. Many of us have, be patient with us. How blessed are you that you trust completely. Many of us still struggle with that. Be patient with us.
        I do not believe the issues are the authors alone. As seen in the hundreds of comments, and through my own experience, there are many, many women (and men may I add) that deal with these issues on a regular basis. It isn’t “ridiculous”. We are not all on the same spiritual level. Some of us are walking, but some of us are still crawling. Throughout scripture there are so many examples of Jesus having compassion on those who are hurting. He never rebuked them, or told them to grow up. No, that rebuking was for the Pharisees, so full of pride and self sufficiency. They were, after all, great men of faith and trust were they not, keeping the very letter of the law. How arrogant.
        I do not begrudge any Mother their “Mother’s Day”. I have a wonderful, sacrificial Mother whom I dearly love and seek to honor her every single day. Mothers have a hard job, often thankless. Then again, can’t that be said for so many roles we as men and women fulfill? Is your role as a Mother so important and thankless that you absolutely must be recognized by standing up in church and being applauded? Don’t get me wrong here, I think Mother’s should be honored, but why is so much focus put on this one day? Especially in our churches. It is, after all, a secular holiday. It’s original intent was not corporate, but for each family to honor their own Mother individually. Why bring something into our church service that is a source of such pain for so many in so many different situations? Isn’t church to be a refuge for the broken and hurting? A place for growth and healing?
        Is it any wonder with attitudes from Christians such as yours that so many women (and men!) choose not to worship in church on Mother’s Day? How terribly sad.

      • sophie pretzel says:

        Thank you!!!

  150. In my own congregation, I (unknowingly) followed your advice and spoke broadly of motherhood. In my prayer I gave thanks for all the women of the church, who are mothers to all of us in the faith. I told the story of my youth pastor, a wonderful woman, without whom I would not be in ministry.

    If I’m honest, though, I would say that in a perfect world our churches would expect better of us. The church has a calendar. Today was the 6th Sunday in Easter. I’ve had some good conversations with my worship cmte. about cultural holidays, so thankfully I can get away with a ‘nod’ to such holidays without having them dominate the whole service. I love the prayer contained in your post.

  151. Good post, Amy. A friend from my church posted this article by Anne Lamott on her Facebook page: http://www.salon.com/2010/05/08/hate_mothers_day_anne_lamott/
    I thought you might find it interesting.

  152. Today has been a difficult day, yet it’s also been a day when I think I’ve grown closer to others in my congregation. Mothers were honored and given a flower, and then other women were as well. One friend sensed it may be hard, and was supportive. I ended up standing there in tears, and two moms came to offer a hug. Then another lady came up with a hug and gentle words of understanding. So perhaps difficult is okay, when met with understanding, compassion and a healthy dose of grace.

  153. I so wish I didn’t understand where you were coming from on this letter. You wrote EXACTLY what I have been feeling for years. I always wanted 5 kids, God had other plans for me. I was the one today who got up and walked out during the Mother’s Day standing time. It’s too hard. Thank you for writing this. God bless you.

  154. Thank you for your post. I’m just now reading it, but I agree wholeheartedly with you. It’s a hard day first of all because my mom passed away not to long ago and secondly As someone who’s been trying for over 3 years now this day just gets harder and harder to deal with. I refused to even attend today. I wish churches were more sensitive about this subject.

  155. Hi, Amy. I AM a pastor and DID have moms stand this morning in all three services. Never again. Well said. Thanks, JMS

  156. I am so thankful for this post. As woman in a similar situation, I feel where you are coming from. And as a pastor-in-training, this definitely gives me some important information to take into a parish. In particular, the emphasis on how all women reflect Imago Dei. Because that is really what a faith community should be about. Leave the rest to Hallmark.

  157. what a thought provoking, really interesting post! i’m so glad i found your blog.

    janelle

  158. Christine says:

    As a pastor, I try to cover all the different situations and ask all mothers and women of the faith to stand. I also make sure that it is not the main point of the service. It has its part, but it is only one part. Same thing for Father’s day in a month.

  159. Martina says:

    Do you feel uncomfortable when they ask graduates to stand, cancer survivors, or reciprocates of presidential awards? When it is your time to be celebrated do you not want your day. I know it’s church and the world wants to control it because they feel we have to much liberty. Find the church that doesn’t honor mothers, fathers, families, individuals, nobody. Give honor to whom honor is due.

    • You are surely entitled to your opinion, and I am glad to read differing viewpoints. In this case, it is clear that you have no personal connection to those who struggle with infertility. This has nothing to do with the church having too much liberty.

      • Brent, I have much personal connection to people who struggle with infertility. However I agree with Martina. Should we as Christians not learn to celebrate and grieve with one another?

        Here is an example of a similar sort. When I was 25 my boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. Should I have asked my church to stop announcing engagements? Should I have avoided weddings? Or asked my friends to only marry in civil ceremonies and not celebrate afterwards? Or, should I have gone to the only One who could provide healing from such tragedy while acknowledging that there are others in life who deserve celebration even though I’m facing a difficult time? I chose the last option. It wasn’t easy, but having made it through, I can say it was the best choice.

        • Oh my goodness, JMJ, I think I want to know you. I truly feel like we too are the only ones who see the emporer has no clothes. I’m stunned by the comments on this page.

    • You’ve completely missed the point. Infertility, child loss, abuse, and the list goes on, are not things to be celebrated. Where did anyone say we shouldn’t honor Mothers? Also, church should be reserved for honoring Christ…not man.

  160. Jennifer Owen says:

    I as a female pastor, and not a mother, ask all women to stand and we acknowledge the roles women play in our lives, no matter what the role is — parent, teacher, confidante, counselor, friend, etc. I even ask the girls to stand, again, it’s an acknowledgement of ALL women and the roles they have. I’ll do the same on Father’s Day for all the men. I do the same for vets and those who have military in their family….

  161. still grieving says:

    Dear Amy – So deeply grateful for your post – this year, like each year since my miscarriage (after years of infertility), I skipped church on Mother’s Day. Just couldn’t bear my own private grieving juxtaposed with hearing “Happy Mother’s Day” – those good intentions from unknowing people. Will be sharing this post with many pastor friends. You are a blessing.

    • Dear Still Grieving, I believe there IS a place for private grieving, and if you needed that this Sunday, I trust that you were met by God in some way. Amy

  162. It was very interesting for me to read this post and the comments, because in some ways I have the opposite complaint. My church has every woman stand and we all get flowers. I hate that! As a happily married but childless woman, I don’t want to be recognized as somehow “like a mother” because I’ve been involved in some way in the lives of other people’s kids. I’m not a mother, and yes at times I grieve over that reality, but I would FAR rather, if the church feels that mothers need to be asked to stand during the service and get applause and/or a gift, that it be only actual mothers who stand. I don’t fit in that category, and I think it is wrong, dishonest, and offensive to pretend that I do. I’m not a veteran, so I don’t stand up when veterans are honored; what’s the difference?

    P.S. I’m also a pastor, though not currently serving a congregation, so I realize this is a no-win situation for pastors. Whatever we do or don’t do to observe Mother’s Day in worship is guaranteed to offend and/or cause pain to some in the congregation.

    • Hi Betureblog, I guess the primary difference I see is that vetrans and mothering don’t seem to be congruent analogies for me. Most vetrans didn’t long to be in the military — if they wanted to be in the military, they could (unless there were medical reasons. I’ll be honest, I have no idea how many people don’t qualify for military service due to medical reasons). For those who want to join the ranks of motherhood, there is no simple office to sign up. I agree that it can be a no-win situation, but I still believe that we can “hurt”/offend a lot or a few. Why not aim for fewer? Amy

  163. Where did you get the prayers?

  164. Thanks, Amy. I DID walk out this year. I, *ahem* uh, had to use the bathroom right when the moms were at the front, receiving their carnations.

  165. ‘To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.’

    I don’t know if anyone else has commented on this yet (I’ve only done a cursory examination of the comments), but this really spoke to my condition. Mother’s Day is always bittersweet because I want to celebrate it with my wife and daughter, but want to forget it because of my memories of the woman who bore me. I want to just do something special, at home, for the day and not have to engage in public celebrations. I guess that I want to have the ability to forget about the day once we all leave the house. I cringe whenever anyone forces me to recognise the debt that I owe to my mother, during service, because I frankly feel as if that debt has been paid in full, far too long ago. Not all mothers are amazing and worthy of acknowledgement or praise.

    I realise that this is a challenging day to meet all of the desires of everyone, so if my wife’s church has a Mother’s Day celebration, or gives out flowers, etc., I simply go outside for a time. (I’m Quaker, which means that we more often than not decry the commercialism of the holiday more than celebrate it!) I just wish that the ‘church’ would take your advice, and recognise the challenge that this day presents for so many people. Thank you.

    • Dan, thank you for this perspective. No, in answer to your question, that particular point hasn’t been commented on much. I am thankful that it sounds like you (and your wife) have been able to create a different experience for your daughter and will leave such a different leagcy than the one that was handed for you. Amy

    • One of the reasons I love what you wrote is because at the very core every statement is so soundly Biblical. Yes!! We like to say “we can’t be all things to everyone” but this lovely writing is just that, a statement of love to all. So beautiful. Thank you.

      • Thank you Laura, this is my hope, that there are elements of Christ in every word, but I know I blow it over and over again. Amy

  166. I am a pastor and a mom, who is extremely aware of people who might feel left out or on the margins for some reason. I do not have them stand. This year there were no gifts (which I think is appropriate anyway). In our litany we did refer to all kinds of mothers, including those who have lost children in some way. Then the sermon wasn’t all about people being mothers, but instead about the church being a “Mother Church”, like a womb for growing disciples. I always hope and pray that I am being inclusive, because Jesus would be.

  167. Very well said. As a soon-to-be 32 year old who, thus far, has chosen not to have children just yet, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that feels like “less” of a woman in the presence of those who have dedicated their lives to raising a family. Thanks for sharing!

  168. Reading these comments posted here moves me to tears. I have experienced all these emotions in one year or another of my life. Yet everyone involved in these worship services has the greatest intentions when planning. So maybe we all need to speak up at the planning sessions and get more personally involved with our walk with Christ. For those who have negative “parent” experiences may I suggest this:
    I try to think about what happened to them in their life experience that culminated into my experience. Very few things in this world are ‘born bad'; however there are many bad experiences. This does not end the hurt necessarily, it just gives a different perspective. I pray this helps.

  169. Thank you so much for writing this. I hope that your pastor and many others out there will read this and change their sermon on Mother’s Day so that women will no longer have to feel awkward in church, again.

    I had quit attending church all together for this reason and many others. I, too, suffer from infertility issues and miscarriage. It was like my heart was being ripped out of my chest every time mothers where praised in church. Now, I am in the role of step-mom, and it’s just plain awkward. I don’t stand because I know I have not given birth to my own child, and my husband nudges me to remind me that I am a mom to my step-children.

    Beautifully written, and I am glad to see that so many have responded well to your post!

    • Thanks Stacy. Your husband sounds like a good guy! (but I do get the awkwardness, what if one kid doens’t mind you standing and another gets very offended). Amy

  170. Thank you so much for sharing this. Last year I was 2 months beyond a miscarriage and 5 weeks pregnant on Mother’s Day. Our church did a pancake breakfast where moms didn’t pay but everyone else did. I told my husband that was absolutely horrible – women shouldn’t pay. Perhaps NO one should pay. I have no relationship with my own mother and dread Mother’s Day for that reason as well. I love the litany shared. We used one very similar in a call and response format in worship yesterday. It was beautiful and validates every woman, and man!

    Yesterday I sat in church holding my sweet 4 month old little man. Mother’s Day took on a whole new meaning for me, but was just as bittersweet. I will continue to speak up for those whom struggle on Mother’s Day. Thank you again for writing this.

  171. Full disclosure: I didn’t read all 371 comments to see if this has already been said. It needs to be said, though, so I’ll take the risk of duplicating.

    I’m a transsexual woman. When I transitioned, my kids were 26, 23, and 5 years old. I’m still a parent. I’m still very active in raising my youngest, now 12. I’m not a mom, though — the kids already have a mom. Though my youngest still calls me Dad, I’m not a dad like other dads, either. (The older kids call me by my first name now.)

    I lost Fathers Day, but I didn’t gain Mothers Day. I can’t stand up with the moms in church. But stand up with the dads next month? –talk about awkward. One year on Fathers Day, my church gave tokens of appreciation to all the dads — a little card with a drawing of a necktie, and a tie pin attached to it — symbols of maleness as symbols of fatherhood. I didn’t accept one.

    Sure, my situation is unusual, but it’s far from unique. There are thousands of us (including men who used to live as women, and are also still parents). Whether we’re still parenting our kids post-transition, or whether we’ve been shut out from their lives because of transition, we’re still parents, even if we don’t fit the gendered expectations of motherhood and fatherhood.

    We, too, would rather not be made to feel awkward by our faith communities’ celebrations. There are so many kinds of families, so many kinds of adults loving and raising kids. Please – especially as an act of worship – don’t assume that every family is just like your own.

  172. Michael says:

    I was intending on going to church yesterday but remembered it was Mother’s Day and did not. I’m a man, a father of three, and a husband. I took my Mother out to breakfast and spent the morning with her Friday before Mother’s Day. I appreciate my mom period. I appreciate my wife as Mother. But it is time to END such stuff inside the walls of church. That goes for Father’s day as well. And Memorial Day, and July 4 and Veterans day. The list could go on an on. Sunday is no day to be lifting these up when there is another to be lifted up. I got that off my back now.

    • But I think you might be on to something. Amy

    • I agree that Sunday is a day to lift up the Lord. But isn’t encouraging those who are following His calling–as a mother, father, soldier, etc.– honoring to him?

      • What about secretaries, trash collectors, dog walkers, nurses, and the never ending list goes on. We can encourage all of these different roles every single day. Why does it need to be done within the church?

  173. This is wonderful. I am a stepmom with no children of my own, a decision I made based on the situation I married into. I sometimes regret not having my own children and even though I love my stepdaughters as much as I would imagine I would love my own children, I don’t feel that I would be able to stand in church on mother’s day because of the drama it would cause in my family.

  174. I haven’t been able to read every comment, but I’m surprised that nobody seems to focus on the mom that every every one of us has or had. I always point this out in church on Mothers’ Day (and we never have moms stand up). I love the prayers in the original post, and want to use them, but I’d also add prayers that ackowledge that many of us have lost our mothers, others have complicated relationships with our mothers, but we all have or have had one. Plus many of us have had women (and sometimes men) who have taken the place of a mother for us. So I always focus on that. Especially because I am a mom myself, I don’t feel like putting the moms in the congregation on pedestals.

  175. How about on Mother’s day we focus on all the kids who don’t have mothers. Everyone who has been adopted into the family of God should pray about adoption.

  176. Natalie says:

    Most years our church has its Youth Sunday on Mother’s Day. The youth often wish their mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day when they get up to speak, but that’s really not the focus of the day. Instead we focus on the importance of youth ministry, and our congregation gets to see how well they have fulfilled their baptismal vows for our children/youth. Your post is just one of the many reasons that I appreciate our church’s tradition. Thanks for your eloquent words.

  177. Thank you for this post! I’ve avoided church (and the mall!) on Mother’s Day for many years. My mother died when I was young and every year, Mother’s Day hurts as much Valentine’s Day does after you’ve been dumped. Church is supposed to be a place for rest and healing, not a place that feels like “salt in mostly healed wounds.”

  178. And let me just say that I disagree with your post. I am not going to encourage you in this idea. I think we should be happy for others when they are praised or acknowledged. Your post just makes me, as a mom, feel guilty. Motherhood is tough. Motherhood is not everything that you think it is when you are not one. Live for the day, my friend. You have freedom to do MUCH for the Lord in this season. His Kingdom needs you.

    • Oh Liz, it sounds like you are walking a tough path right now. Yes, mothering is hard, hard, hard! Amy

      • Dear Amy,
        I admire your tactfulness and graciousness.
        The church’s focus should be on Christ, not any humans.
        As a mother, I do not wish to celebrate Mother’s Day at church. It is insensitive.
        I didn’t feel that way at first. Much of secular society/academia belittles motherhood. Value is placed on the woman with the amazing career. We do not get bonuses or rewards, etc. You get my point.
        But maybe we shouldn’t seek rewards or the world’s value in what we do?
        We should do everything for the Lord and not ourselves.
        This is difficult for me because I so desperately want recongition for all the hard work I do.
        Honestly, I do not view “non-moms” (I am only using this term because you used it. I would never even think that way.) as less than me for not having children. In fact, I seek approval from my childless friends and I don’t want them to think less of ME for not having an “important”, intelligent job. I know this sounds crazy. I just feel like a frazzled, frumpy lump when I am near a hip, put-together person with no kids. Before I had children, I had an intense longing to have children. Then after I had children, I experienced culture shock…and was constantly attacked by other women (mostly by other mothers who are struggling with their own self-worth). [I like the quip another commentor posted: ” If you are a woman called to a single life, you will feel devalued because some think you should be married with babies. If you are married with babies, and a stay at home mom, you will feel devalued because some will say you’ve given up your career to raise them, and are no moving women’s rights forward. If you are a career mom, you will feel devalued because some will tell you that it’s a shame to split your time between your children and your job.”] All this sounds trite and self-centered. It is. But it is still pain. There is pain in thinking your life has no value. There is pain in lack of recognition whether you are a mother or not.
        I thank you for posting this. We women need to have an open, honest dialogue. We also need to respect each other. Respect is more important than recognition.

        • Sarah,

          Thank you for your well thought out and expressed letter — “We women need to have an open, honest dialogue. We also need to respect each other. Respect is more important than recognition.” I agree~ with warm regards, Amy

  179. Mickele says:

    I agree with you. I am a mother and stepmother. This year Mother’s Day was very hard for my step sons. They lost their mom 3days before Christmas. How am I supposed to celebrate a holiday that brought so much pain to my bonus children. I tried to play it low key, but unfortunatly everywhere you turn it’s like a slap in the face. I never realized, until this year, how painful this holiday could be. Thank you for your letter, it made me think outside of the box.

  180. awderrick says:

    I struggled with infertility for 16 years. And I lost my own mother during that time. Even as an ordained minsiter – I quit going to church on Mother’s Day. I am now an adoptive mom and thoroughly love my children and relish my role as their mother. But yesterday at church was still painful. Too much talk of pregnancy and birth – too much awareness of those who could not “stand” as mothers – all of what you wrote above. The church has a long way to go on this. Thanks for speaking up!

  181. Thanks for this piece, and I hope it gets a lot of pastors and churches to think about how they observe Mother’s Day — if they must. Usually a more experienced member or “graduate” posts a little pep talk to the women still trying on an infertility forum where I participate, but as the day wore on, I noticed no one else had, and a couple of members had already posted about how hard the day was for them. So I hastily composed something as my toddlers napped, but I added quite truthfully that I couldn’t really enjoy Mother’s Day since I had experienced the sadness of childlessness not by choice. I remember the first Mother’s Days after my mom died, and have a friend going through that now. Also, I can’t imagine the pain of that day for women who have had children die. Let’s make the church a refuge from the secular hoopla about Mother’s Day, not a place that adds to the pain.

  182. MaryGrace Dansereau says:

    Give me a break. Put your narcissism in your back pocket and honor your own mother.

    • Wow, what happened to letting our words be seasoned with salt? We all have different opinions, there’s no need to be insulting.

  183. Amy…thank you for saying what so many of us have had difficulty saying. Two years ago my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 12 weeks. Mother’s Day for me has been difficult since then. Even though our church recognizes all women I still feel the pain of my loss immensely.

    I know people don’t mean their comments to be hurtful, but so often they are. Sitting in church last year for Mother’s Day with my grandmother, someone said Happy Mother’s Day to several of us women. My grandmother quickly said, “I’m the only one here who is a mother.” Her words were so hurtful. I know she didn’t think about what she was saying. Though I lost my baby, I still think of myself as a mother.

    This year my husband and I are expecting a little boy in August. Mother’s Day was less painful, but I still found myself hurt by people’s comments. One person said, “This time next year you’ll be a mother.” Others said, “Happy Mother’s Day to the mommy-to-be.” I thought to myself I already am a mother, and I’ve been a mother for two years. I won’t forget the baby I lost, and I wish others would recognize the vast array of mother’s.

    • Rachel, I think you hit on another part that’s hard — how we see ourselves and how others see us. Most likely, their words meant that your child would be in your arms, but I can see your point! Amy

  184. thank you so much for your boldness in sharing this!
    i can relate in many ways.

  185. My church did a wonderful take on the having mothers stand thing and had all the women stand, including our teenage girls (all the younger girls were in another class). This was my first mother’s day with this church. My previous church did only have the mothers stand and it was hard, especially last year. I was married (we have since divorced) and was very much wanting to start a family. My husband refused, told me he would not even have sex with me unless I was on birth control, told me we weren’t ready to have a baby. That church, being a very small church, always hands out a flower to all the standing mothers. Well, I was sitting but one of the children passing out flowers tried to give me one anyways and my husband told her no, I wasn’t a mother so I didn’t get a flower. It was heart breaking. This new church though that I am attending is wonderful. Having all the women stand and having the sermon preached by the secretary of the church and having it be about strong women in general was a great way to make it less painful and awkward.

  186. paulandkirsten says:

    I know I’m one of many to say this, but from everything within me, thank you. This has been a struggle, but I am so blessed to be a part of a church that recognizes this on not only this day, but the other 364 as well. I can’t imagine my walk somewhere else- I thank you for recognizing it in a way that has clearly been so impactful to so many! I have shared it far and wide and will continue to do so.

  187. Thank you for this, Amy. Just one addition: for those of us who have been abused or abandoned by our mothers (and then again by our surrogates), you can do more than acknowledge the experience. Grieve with us and hope with us for a better future, both in terms of being mothered and in terms of mothering with less support and fewer examples than we would like. And help us to remember that even the worst mother still gave birth to us and that that is worth honoring.

  188. I shared this with our pastor on Friday, and he actually read this in our church service yesterday! Thank you for so eloquently putting into words how I felt. Blessings!

  189. I can relate to this so much. I really do not like mother’s day- always felt alienated. First trying to have children and then when I did have twins, one was still born and the other died 8 months later from SIDS. No one understands . Very emotional and is made worst when put ont he spot or having to defend motherhood.

  190. Mary Ann says:

    And I am a mother who can realate to several of those ‘other’ mothers listed…Lost my mom, had miscarriage, on the ‘outs’ w/a child, grandmothering other children…so yes, your letter is awesome. More consideration should be made to ALL kinds of mothers. This prayer should be said each Mothers Day in Churches:)

    • Mary Ann, I think that is such a key piece: there is so much more going on than we can see or know — just because on the surface someone looks like a mom (because she is one!), doesn’t mean that is the sum total of her story! Amy

  191. Our family once visited a church on Mother’s Day. They called the mothers forward for prayer. Then the pastor called forward all the women who “are not mothers YET.” PUH-lease! During our time of losing two pregnancies during 5 years between our two children, had I not been on the church staff, we very well might have stopped going to church because we got so tired of comments like “just be thankful for the one you’ve got.” Your post is spot on!

  192. charlac33 says:

    I can appreciate the openness and kindness that your beautifully inspired prayer is meant to invoke. Something that nags at my heart within this is a twinge of entitlement embedded that makes the spirit of mother’s day have to be about everyone and all inclusive.
    I want to remember that Mother’s Day was originally a war protest. This new Hallmark, sugar sweet Mother’s Day is a consumption, and media fabrication that now has women (and men) struggling to be included in the frenzy of appreciation. I just wonder if it has to take it all so personally, as if someone is trying to deliberately exclude or offend or not understand the complexity of life circumstances, or painful memories.
    I certainly empathize with these painful life experiences, especially in the comments. In the world of Facebook, blogs, etc, the discourse becomes so transparent, our lives are less private. There is a trajectory that our social lives have to be important to the world, to ourselves. That we have to impose our specialness everywhere. Like we are always “one-uping” each other with our pain and suffering.
    This is really just a question — no condemnation here. I support the general spirit of love and compassion, and the meaning of support in the original post. I just wonder if there is an opportunity to reflect if everything has to be about me.

    thinking…..

    • charlac33. “Thinking” — yes, yes, yes, these are important things to think about! FB (etc) have certainly had their impact on far more than just “connecting with friends,” that’s for sure! Amy

  193. charlac says:

    This prayer is very beautiful. The spirit of unity is strong.
    One thing that is nagging my heart is a twinge of entitlement, where everything has to be so all inclusive that is has to be about everyone all the time. Does everything have to be about me? Why does my experience have to reflected everywhere?
    In the age of FB, sometimes it seems like people are “one uping” each other’s pain and suffering constantly. Why do we take it all so personally?
    It might be important to remember that the original Mother’s Day was a call for women to march together for national disarmament. And the woman who transformed it to more of a celebration of one’s mother eventually spent most of her life (and personal wealth) protesting the sickening commerialization, “Hallmark Holiday” that most of the readers here now are offended and feel hurt from.
    I just want to pose the question to anyone interested in the opportunity of reflecting, “Does this really have to be about me?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother's_Day#United_States

    may all beings be at peace,

  194. Aussiegirl says:

    Amy, I was made aware of your post via two links on Facebook – one from a friend in Europe, and another from a friend in Australia (like me) so it has reached far and wide! I also avoid church on Mother’s Day. I have no children, almost certainly never will, and I find this heartbreaking. I dread Mother’s Day for weeks. I have no problem with acknowledging mothers – mine is a fabulous mum, as are many of my friends and family who are mothers. I celebrate and acknowledge them. However, at the same time, I’m allowed to hurt and cry and scream (alone, not in public!) at the pain.

    Thank you for your post. I have never seen the standing thing in an Australian church, but it probably happens. I have sat through the sermons, the handing out of flowers (sometimes I got one, sometimes not), the applauding of mothers as the highest calling for a woman. Eventually it got too much and I was afraid of doing the crying and screaming in public, so now I stay home. My attitude has always been – I won’t ask you not to do Mother’s Day at church, but don’t ask me to come, or reprimand me for staying home. Not that I’ve ever broadcast this, only one friend has ever noticed that I stay home and although she was a mum, she confessed to doing the same thing during 10 years of infertility and simply offered a hug with no condemnation.

    However, after reading of one the other comments above (I can’t find it now), I’m thinking about whether in fact asking churches to be somewhere we can go without being confronted with our pain is a Biblical and worthwhile concept. Churches are already a place focused on family where singleness and childlessness is seen as an aberration at worst, and something you should “be content with” and “use for ministry” at best. In valuing families, the church is often counter-cultural, could they also be counter-cultural on Mother’s and Father’s Day also (in what is an “opposite” way) and provide a place of solace where we focus on God and the value of everyone?

    Anyway, hope I haven’t rambled too much. Thank you again for your post, Amy. It has obviously touched many people.

    • Aussiegirl, you haven’t rambled too much at all! It’s enlightening for us to hear from different points on the globe to hear how this day plays out. One of my examples was from the US and one was from China. Thanks for taking the time to chat! Amy

  195. I read this with mixed emotions. One thing you may not have considered, is that even mothers who do stand go through a lot of pain in and because of mothering. It is the hardest job hands down, I have ever done. If you aren’t a mother you have NO idea, even if you feel you can sympathize with someone who is childless. And I commend you for your empathy. As a mother you are be sure to face constant criticism in all direction. without realizing it-even some comments here seem to be critical of women who have simply borne children. And that is completely God’s decision and his alone. He gives what he gives. He withholds what he withholds. He has his plan and his reasons. We are not in control of this AT ALL. As a mother, there are many things a childless woman can do that I will never be able to do. We can’t have it all. And again, it is God who decides who we are and what we will be. We need to humbly thank Him for wisely making us what we are, whether we are mothers or not. Perhaps God needs you for something else. We have to become putty in his hands and allow him to form us into what he has planned. We can have wishes and ideas about our lives, but it is unwise to cling too tightly to our own visions and wishes. To the point that you might walk out of your next mothers day service if mothers are asked to stand, well you have every right. That is your decision. I agree with a few others that this is focusing inward, on yourself, and is a feeling for yourself, rather than being about others, a celebration of what someone else is but that you cannot be. I wanted to be a doctor, but God made me a mother before I could finish school. That dream will never be realized because of the path God put me on. I had to let it go. I could have tried to be both, but decided I would not be a good doctor or a good mother trying to do both. This does not make me half a woman. Being childless does not make any woman half a woman. It just makes her not a mother. Again, we cannot be all things, but
    that is not what makes us a shell…focusing on
    ourselves and our own visions rather than
    god’s visions for us is what does that. We are whole only when we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior, and yield to God to allow him to make us whole by the indwelling of his spirit in us. There is nothing else, not even being a mother, that will make you feel whole. Again, being a mother is hard, and mostly a thankless job. We don’t get paid, we dont get raises, report cards, annual job evaluations…we never know how we are doing, and mist of the time probably feel guilty that we aren’t doing better.
    We mostly don’t get thanks, we get puked on,
    wet on, screamed at, disrespected, dismissed
    Woken up all hours of the night, no personal time…I can’t even go to the bathroom and think for five minutes without one child banging on the door. Most of the time the children dont even remember our birthday…and even that day is not a free day. It’s nice to be
    recognized on Mother’s Day. It’s nice to be
    asked to stand…our shoulders above everyone else for two minutes, when most of the year we feel invisible. It’s nice to get a flower. For many of us being a mother is all we will ever do that is of any importance. Please don’t
    diminish what God made me, because he didn’t make you the same thing. He made you what you are, where you are for a very important reason. It may not be a mother, it may never be, but rest assured God knows exactly what you need to be and when. Accept his plan for your life without bitterness, and then you will feel whole…that you have all the parts you need and that they are being used exactly as God sees fit. Then you will be able to be glad for others when they have what you do not, and you will forget why you ever
    wanted to walk out of the sanctuary while God was congratulating his mothers.
    I pray that you and all women who hurt on mothers day or any day can find peace and healing in Christ, and in melting into his loving arms and his will for your lives! In jesus’ sweet name

    (p.s.–even mothers with living children have had to say goodbye to a couple. My first child was stillborn, my last miscarried, with three living in between. I haven’t been able to have any more but still would welcome them if it was God’s will. But if it is not…Praise God! He has me in the shadow of his wing)

    • Hi Cris, I can’t tell if you’ve read through the comments :). If you have, hopefully you’ve seen a thread of saying YES, YES, YES, mothering is hard work. And that each stage comes with it’s own challenges. It sounds like you are in the “I can’t get a moment to myself!!!!!!!!!” stage; others are in the “What are they doing? Are they safe??????” stage. Each stage with its own blessings and trials. Sounds a lot like life, eh?! Amy

    • This was beautifully written. Recognizing someone for an achievement they have made does not diminish any other kinds of achievements anyone else has made. We all are not called for the same purpose in life and we should applaud those who are recognized as we would like them to applaud us when we are recognized for whatever achievement is reached.

  196. Lori McTaggart says:

    There is indeed so many types of mothering, and the prayer is so beautiful to touch each one. I LOVE it! In my church we still do the standing with the congregation extending their arms in prayer over all the mothers. I remember (with tearful eyes) like it was yesterday, (it’s been 14 yrs) our years of infertility and sitting in that pew. So many years of Mothers Days, first with simple treatments thinking we’d succeeded and had not, then onto failed invitro. I remember especially the failed invitro. year, feeling like there was a beast inside me I wanted to scream out as they prayed for all the mothers because I was filled with such anger and disappointment. And then after a few more years, we adopted our 6 month old daughter, and it was with such overwhelming love for my daughter that I stood on that first Mothers Day.
    I agree with you, let us sit in the pew, and let us acknowledge ALL the motherly women who freely give for the love of children. I’m going to share your article with our pastor. Thank You!!

  197. I know that it’s impossible to touch every possible circumstance with your prayer (which I think is beautiful) but I feel it’s also important to acknowledge those of us who would have loved to have been mothers but whose highest hopes and dreams for marriage and children were never fulfilled and so we remain alone, but not by preference, just merely by never having been dealt the family card, and our age now makes birthing children impossible.

  198. Ruth Shaver says:

    I’m a pastor. I’m not a mother. Instinctively, I have avoided asking moms to stand in worship, and dads on Father’s Day, as well, for many of the reasons shared here. But I do lift up the many ways we who are women can be mothers in the Imago Dei…and how men can, as well. The same on Father’s Day.

    Thank you for this additional insight. This is beautifully written.

  199. Amy, absolutely brilliant. I have spent 2 weeks thinking this exact thing as I have watched the pain Mothers day causes and even though I am a Mum my conclusion has been that I just want Mothers & Fathers Days deleted off the calendar. You, however, put it so much more eloquently than I could (my reasons all the same) and I thank you. Please be encouraged to continue to speak your mind – this is certainly affirming & building.

  200. Charley says:

    I am a pastor in a local congregation. Growing up, I learned that mothers were asked to stand and were given either a red carnation (if her mother was living) or a white carnation if her mother was deceased). As an adult, and before entering full time church service, my views on Mothers’ Day were drastically altered by two women.

    The first was a dear friend who was in the midst of her struggles with infertility. She and her husband had gone through the testing and failed in vitro procedures. And her spirit was crushed on days our church celebrated the perfect mother.

    The second was my wife. Not even five months after her mother had died of breast cancer (at age 62), my wife did not want to sit through another celebration, only to be given a white carnation to remind her — once again — that her mother was dead.

    On Mothers’ Day we do celebrate women who have nurtured us in the faith, but we also recognized that there are other feelings as well. And we pray for those who are imperfect, those who want to be, and even those who are and aren’t living up to others’ (or their own) expectations.

    • Charley, thank you for sharing that there are many who “get” it and see beyond the surface as they shepherd their flock! Amy

  201. I liked the read, Amy. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Just a thought in return (I have a mug of Starbucks coffee on the table as I sit down to talk with you)…the guy who took fourth place in a race might be mad because he didn’t get first, but should he boycott the awards ceremony simply because he is upset that he isn’t standing on the podium? And should the ceremony be canceled because there are only three who are honored out of twenty thousand otherwise upset racers who are not honored?

    I think you would probably be the first to agree that the “honor to whom honor is due” would DEFINITELY apply to mothers who so faithfully spend their lives serving God, their husbands, their friends, their community, their workplace, their church family AND their children. The most Godly of single persons does not daily serve the needs of a husband or her children.

    It seems to me that mothers are honored on Mother’s Day not just because they happen to have children, but for their daily sacrifice for their children. And I believe perhaps it might be inappropriate to NOT honor them.

    However, I agree with you that the FORM of honoring mothers might need to be adjusted to take into consideration the emotional needs of those who are not able to rejoice with those who celebrate the sacrifice of others in this way.

    I have one daughter with children, one married daughter, one daughter of marriable age who is still single, and one adult single daughter. They all laugh and rejoice together in honoring mothers on Mother’s Day (although we do live in Japan where it is not considered socially appropriate to single out people for praise, but where it is okay to honor the group).

    Just a thought.

    My mother is the GREATEST, and I want to honor her in every way possible. Doing so, though, does not imply that my wife is NOT a good mother…she is also one of the greatest ever! She knows that and still joins in celebrating my mother with me! (And I hers with her.)

    I like and appreciate your thoughts. I just hope that those who read them do not automatically assume this is unilaterally true for all and that it is the only right course of action and then cancel Mother’s Day celebrations at the church to accommodate the potential for the imagined but genuinely felt emotional needs of others in the congregation.

    • Phil, (thanks for letting me know about your mug — let me guess, it’s got the name of a Japanese city on it? I’ll reply sipping out of my Starbucks mug from the year of the rabbit), I’m guessing you’d probably agree that I can’t guarantee what anyone will think after reading this (as is apparent in the variety of comments here) :). But I can write something and then reply honorably and kindly to those who want to dialogue about it (note I didn’t say “agree with” it, that’s cool.). Thanks for contributing to the conversation. Amy

  202. Infertility fraught with pokes!? What a tremendous turn of phrase …!

  203. Margaret says:

    Amy, I am a mother of five and I can tell you it is definitely not carefree. In fact, it is rather thankless. Even more so as life goes on and they don’t need you anymore and you wonder where your life went. I sometimes wonder why I thought it was such a great idea to have children.

    I think you may not really understand what it is to be a mother which is understandable if you have not been one. Having a mother is a lot different than being a mother. It is endless work. It is getting up every morning (husband on the scene or not) whether you are feeling like it or not. It is thousands of meals. It is always putting someone else before yourself. It is staying up late on a Saturday night to go pick up your teenager who just has to go to a dance or friend’s party. It is being the bad guy about homework. On and on and on.

    Sometimes I complain about my mother and I realize that my daughters are probably feeling the same way about me at times. Will there be times when they are hoping they won’t run into me at the grocery store? I think those thoughts and then realize how thankless the job is. My mother did every bit of work that I do, and more, and I have those thoughts???

    At my church we acknowledge different people at different times. Should I be upset to acknowledge the Sunday School teachers, those who helped at the clean- up day, those who put on the last church dinner? I would have done those things if I didn’t have medical problems, missed opportunities, etc. My selfish side wants to say, “What about me and my contributions?”, but my day is a different day.

    Please think about mothers as one part of the body of Christ. We are doing our part and sometimes smiling on the outside when we are dead tired and hurting inside.

    By the way, I have a childless sister who now regrets choices that she made that took her down a path that did not include marriage or children. She acknowledges that her situation is, in part, due to her choices, as well as life’s vagaries.

    However, she is the greatest aunt. She is the aunt who has time to talk to my children and sees them through a glass that is not tinted by any comparisons to her own children. She thinks she has done nothing, but she has affected so many lives through her position as a music professor at a small university. Many students are the first of their families to go to college, and my sister is the one who thinks about them while she is home and gives them a lot of thoughtful advice. No one can thank her often enough, but I know she gets to stand up once a year at commencement ceremonies.

    I hope that there are people in your life that remind you of all the good you are doing in the role you are called to play. Life is not without pain, and refusing to let mothers stand up once a year is not going to take it away. Standing up in church and receiving a spindly carnation doesn’t make my job any easier, but I appreciate that my church family is trying to show me, in some small way, that they appreciate what I am doing as a mother.

    • Oh Margaret, you sound like you have such a heavy burden! We do appreciate you for the job you are doing. I’ll pray for you. Amy

    • paulandkirsten says:

      I think you seem to be missing the point though- there’s a way to honor mothers without adding to the struggles of others. I’m so glad you feel appreciated, but would you feel less appreciated on that day if you were not asked to stand, and instead recognized with beautiful words like those Amy included?

      • Margaret says:

        If this entire discussion is about standing vs. not standing, I’m okay with not standing. I don’t even care about the flower. And I do appreciate the words of the prayer. However, I do appreciate being acknowledged for my role and I don’t like the tone of some of the writer’s that their pain outweighs all others. I don’t know if the pain of being infertile compares with the pain of being the mother of a child who is cutting herself. How do you know that the smiling wife standing there might not have lived through a husband’s adulterous affair? Hmmmm… where will we stop splitting hairs? I just want to point out that mothers with living children standing or sitting in the pew may have also experienced indescribable pain.

        What I have realized is that every adult is going through tremendous pain at one time or another. It would be naive of me to think that I have more pain than others. It would be immature of me to think that the happy looking couple has never had an argument.

        I thank you for your prayers. Life is not easy for me, but I keep going because I have children to raise. Maybe that’s a blessing that I have that others don’t. Thank you for letting me write. I think I learned something about myself.

        • Margaret-
          I’m reminded of the saying (casually attributed to many, but as far as I know, reliably attributed to none): “Be kind to everyone you meet, for all are fighting a hard battle.” Your awareness of that shines through your words, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

        • Margaret. I think many have learned in this process, me too! Thanks for joining in. Amy

  204. As a pastor who rather awkwardly invited “all women who are mothers or have been mother figures to others” to stand this past Sunday, I receive this. What a generous and timely word – I wish I’d gotten it a few days sooner, but it will stick with me for years to come. THANK YOU for your honesty and your very practical (and pastoral) suggestions for how to do this better in the future.

    • Tom, and thank you for your kind words that are so “open handed and not closed fist.” Your very words will be read as a balm by many. Amy

  205. Hmm…I’ve always wondered why celebrating group X has to be seen as a slam to group Y. I mean, does celebrating our members who graduated from high school and college mean that we’re slamming those who dropped or flunked out? Does recognizing those who take part in the church music program (as we did just this past Sunday) mean that we’re being insensitive to those who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket?

    Or to get a little more personal here, as a diabetic, do I have to get into a snit every time a church reception has cake loaded with tons of gooey icing, and not a single diet drink in sight…except for water? No…I figure that’s MY issue, not theirs.

    But having said that, here’s the portion of the prayers I wrote for mothers this past Sunday:

    =====

    Of course today we remember our mothers, our grandmothers, and all those who have acted as mothers to us – whether they be aunts, neighbors, or even fathers. Let us remember the mothers around us, our wives, our sisters, our daughters, and our nieces.

    While it is easy for us to remember all those mothers who have shown us great love, let us also keep in mind those mothers who may have tried and not been able to give us the love we needed. Let us remember the mothers who for some reason are separated from their children. Where our mothers have failed us, let us at least give them a little credit for trying. Let us also keep in mind the mothers who have failed tragically when the world just became too much for them. And let all of us learn from the mothers around us; whether it be what to do or what not to do. Lord in your mercy…

    =====

    I will, though, consider using that litany you posted if I find myself “on duty” next Mothers Day.

    • Keith, I don’t think it is the celebrating of group X that is a slam to group Y, I think it is the way it is celebrated that can be the slam. Hope that makes sense, in my non-cyber life I’ve got a colleague in a kind of a medical crisis and am being pulled in many directions. I’m not sure if I’m communicating clearly :). Amy

      • I perhaps didn’t get that subtle distinction. But this is perhaps because I know of a woman who for years avoided church on Mothers Day, even though we really only gave it a passing mention, because she couldn’t have children. And as INsensitive as ANY mention of Mothers Day seems to come across as sounding by many of those who agree with you, people like her seem to strike me as being OVERLY sensitive. It seems to say that because *I* don’t get to be recognized, NO ONE should.

        I agree with many of the things that j.m.j says (we should meet and talk someday!), especially in the light of the story of her boyfriend’s motorcycle accident. That tragedy gave her the “standing” to say what many might say I have no right to say simply because I’m a guy and “don’t understand.”

        And yet I do. My wife and I dealt with apparent infertility issues for five years before being surprised by finding out the the “PMS from Hell” she thought she was having was our now 19yo daughter. And at no time during those five years did she ever think of not going to church on Mothers Day because it seemed to rub in her face what she was incapable of doing. She was most decidedly NOT that woman.

        But I also vehemently disagree with the concept of “Because you’re not a member of Group X, you don’t get to have an opinion.” Sometimes it takes someone from OUTSIDE of our little group to see things a lot more clearly than we are able to, from being too close to it, and focusing only on the little dots rather than the big picture.

        I guess the simple fact of the matter is that no matter what you do, someone’s ox is gonna get gored. Someone will be unhappy no matter what you do. That’s how it is with all of life. And regarding Paul’s admonition that we shouldn’t do something that causes another believer to stumble, that’s not so cut and dried either; perhaps while doing X will cause believer A to stumble, NOT doing X will trip up believer B.

        It’s a complicated world out there, and there are no easy answers on this side of the grave.

  206. I can definitely see both sides. I’ve walked through the path of infertility and still am not a mom (although I thank God that it doesn’t hurt like it used to). During the difficult years, I wouldn’t go to church on Mother’s Day, just like sometimes I couldn’t go to baby showers for friends or watch baby dedications. But I would never ask a friend NOT to have a baby shower, or ask that mothers who sacrificially love everyday NOT to get their deserved recognition for just ONE day, or ask that we stop dedicating babies & celebrating families who want to raise Godly children. Yes, infertility is extraordinarily painful, but if I had ever been successful in becoming a mother, I would want the chance to celebrate it. So, if I have to miss one Sunday of church – because I know it’s painful, in order to allow amazing mothers to enjoy the spotlight, then I will.

    • Stacey, I get your point. I think others in the comment section see the not coming to church as not a helpful-to-the-community option. I don’t want to speak for others, and may have misread them, but I do see your point! Amy

    • Wow. I hadn’t seen it this way before. I have to admit that my wife and I saw the women who specifically avoided church on Mothers Day as engaging in their own private little “pity party” because they didn’t get “the prize that they wanted.” And mind you, this was even when it looked like we wouldn’t be having any children.

      I had never heard anyone describe staying home that day as being a gracious way of allowing mothers to have their few minutes once a year at church, without saying “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

      I like the way you do this.

      • Aussiegirl says:

        Keith, I can only speak for myself, of course, but I have never meant (or seen) staying home as having a pity party or saying “well, I can’t have it, so you shouldn’t celebrate it”. I can see that it might seem that way, but really it wasn’t – not for me anyway. It has been because for some reason, for me, that is the day/occasion that hurts the most. By the time Sunday evening on Mother’s Day comes around, my heart is so fragile and so raw that I just can’t do it.

        I have some serious health issues and miss out on other events, “rites of passage” and acknowledgements. That can be hard but I’m fine with it. I have much to be thankful for in what I do have. This is different. It hurts on a different level, in a different way.

        I go to family Mother’s Day celebrations, I go to baby showers and baptisms, I go to engagement parties and weddings. All these things cause varying degrees of pain depending on how I’m coping at that time. That being said, I go because it’s not about me and I want to celebrate with my friends and family. Sometimes I then go home and have a cry and then I get up, and get on with it.

        As I said, for me, Mother’s Day at church is what hurts the most and it’s the one thing I allow myself to miss. I have never broadcast it or mentioned it except to one friend. It’s not about “not having the prize”, it’s not about being jealous, it’s not about begrudging mothers their attention or acknowledgement. It’s about me, doing what I need to do to protect my heart and get on with it.

        Anyway, hope I’m not being overly dramatic, and I’m not meaning to target anyone. Just trying to show perhaps behind the scenes a little bit.

      • Aussiegirl, thanks for giving me the “behind the scenes.” Our minds, like nature, hate a vacuum. And as a result, when we don’t know what’s going on in a situation, we have to come up with something that seems to explain it so that we can deal with it.

        Say what you will about some things being “none of our business,” if we don’t know, our minds will, out of a need to fill in the blanks and then move on, almost always make up something that while seeming to be the most logical and straightforward explanation (based on *our* experience), may be far from what is actually true. And this having to deal with false information may be more harmful in the long run than just being told what’s actually going on.

        But once we actually *know* what’s going on, we can do a better job of working around whatever the issues really are for that other person, rather than trying to avoid the eggshells we think are there, and ending up in quicksand instead.

        So thank you for giving me a different perspective from the one I’ve had lo these many years.

  207. Christine says:

    I found your article by way of Facebook this morning and then took the time to read most of the comments. The article was very thought provoking. I love Mother’s Day. It’s the one day a year that I don’t have to endure ridicule or teasing about our 7 children. We are firm in our belief that God called us to raise the children He’s given us. We love our large family, but the obnoxious comment get old after awhile. It’s one day a year that I feel like our congregation celebrates our children with us. When they ask for the mom with the most kids to stand, I know that our congregation gets excited for us. I’m proud to stand as a mother. It’s a ministry that has long hours and eternal rewards. :) I know my husband feels just as proud on Veterans Day when he stands amongst the other men and women who has served our country. Should we stop having the Veterans stand for the others who have not served, so we don’t hurt their feelings? In our church the time spent on honoring moms is less than 10 minutes. I think 10 minutes, a few roses given out and a brief time standing,if you wish,is a good thing in our child-resenting society. It seems even in the church, people are choosing to limit their family size because they want to maintain a certain standard of living. It would be sad if the church stopped drawing attention to mothers because of a few. That’s not being said to ignore their pain, but to merely acknowledge the day, Mother’s Day.

    • Hi Christine, I know this wasn’t the point of your email, but I’ve been surprised and intrigued by the comparison many have made between Mother’s Day and Vetran’s Day. Hadn’t seen that one coming! :) Amy

    • I think the point is to celebrate mother’s while at the same time acknowledging that many people are NOT mother’s even though they would like to be. I think Veteran’s should also be honored. I would be curious to know how many people are NOT Veteran’s even though they would like to be.

  208. I’m on here again…I can’t help myself! This has been swirling around in my head ever since you posted it, and brought on some interesting conversations with my husband as well as others.
    Firstly, kudos to you Amy. I’ve read through most of these comments, some with words not so “seasoned with salt” and you’ve replied to most all of them and always with much grace and love.
    I don’t think any of us on here are against honoring Mother’s. I’ve seen many comments from Mom’s who are offended…there is no need to be. No one is trying to devalue their role in any way. Being a Mom is hard work, and often thankless.
    We all have different roles. Some were made to be Mother’s and some were not. That doesn’t make anyone better or less than the other…just different.
    I do find several things interesting. Julia Ward Howe first issued a Mother’s Day Proclamation calling for women to join the support in disarmament. Anna Jarvis promoted the current Mother’s Day celebration, but she herself ended up protesting the day she helped create because of it’s over commercialization.
    I have to agree with her. Pretty much every major holiday has suffered this same fate.
    Another interesting point was brought to my attention, and I saw someone else mention it here as well. In most churches, Mother’s are praised and almost idolized on Mother’s Day, yet on Father’s Day, men are often admonished and rebuked. Why is this?
    Do these “holidays” belong in the church? Is it necessary, or profitable even to include these services? To the commenters saying the Bible commands us to honor our Mother’s. You’re right, it does. You’re to honor your Mother and Father every single day. Does making a church service all about a certain person and their role, whether it be Mother’s, Father’s, veterans, teachers, Grandparents, sisters, brothers, whomevers, take away from the real reason we’re at church? Should we be focused more on Christ, rather than the creation?
    I think what we’re lacking here is understanding. When we are more understanding of people and their different roles, there is less chaos. Mom’s want us to see how difficult it is raising kids, childless women want us to see how painful it is not being able to raise kids, and the list goes on and on and on. We’re all just looking for a little acknowledgment…some understanding. That doesn’t make us selfish or narcissistic. It makes us human.
    I think that’s what Amy is trying to get across here.
    Mother’s Day is not a celebration for everyone. For the women who are infertile, who have miscarried, or whose children have died it is painful. It’s painful for Mother’s with missing children. It’s painful for Mother’s whose children despise them, or have runaway. It’s painful for women who have no Mother in their lives. For women who suffered at the hands of their own Mother, this day is not a celebration. It’s painful for the women taking care of their own Mother, knowing their relationship will never be the same because of debilitating mental disease. For some women, whatever their circumstance may be, this day isn’t for celebrating. We need to understand this.
    These women need loved. If they can’t bear to come to church that day, don’t berate them. We are all in different seasons of life.
    Show compassion. Show grace, show love, show Christ.

    • My favorite part: brought on some interesting conversations with my husband as well as others. Love it! Amy

    • Hmm…maybe Mother’s Day didn’t turn out the way that Anna Jarvis planned, but it certainly seems to sit well with most of the mothers I’ve known. That “one day of over commercialized sentiment” seems so much easier to bear for *everyone* than what she really wanted.

      If I wrote a personal letter to my mother once every year of the type Jarvis wanted, thanking her for everything she’s done for me, she’d think that I had gotten news that one of us had had a horrible diagnosis, indicating only weeks left to live, and so I needed to get all of my affairs in order. Same with my wife…if she got a letter like that from our college-aged daughter, our first thought would be “what’s wrong?”

      My mother knows that I appreciate all that she’s done (see http://tinyurl.com/keg-material), as does my wife. And that greeting card (humorous, of course) that Javis looked down upon because it was a “lazy substitute” for writing a real letter and a little gift are just fine with them. Same thing goes with me and Father’s Day.

      So maybe it’s not what Jarvis would’ve done personally, but there are so many different ways for people to celebrate Mother’s Day that it seems a shame for her to be pissy because not everyone chose to do it in the heavily sentimental way that *she* had envisioned because it’s how *she* would’ve done it.

      But you know…just as an experiment, maybe I’ll do it Jarvis’s way next year, and see if my mother calls to find out what’s wrong with me.

  209. shannon says:

    This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes…it’s my second Mother’s Day since my youngest boy died suddenly at seven years old. Mother’s Day is such a hard day. Thanks for sharing.

  210. Katherine says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this Amy. You know how hard it has been for me that we have not been able to have children and then our adoption plans have been foiled time and again. Obviously God has a reason for this but it is still so hurtful each time it is sort of “thrown in your face”. I have been at church’s where they do exactly what you said and ask the mom’s to stand and I am sure than many of those sitting feel just like I do – just like you have – like something is missing and defective in some way. My pastor has been great about praying for all women – those who are mom’s, those who want to be mom’s but aren’t for one reason or another, those who have given up children for adoption, those who have had abortions. I think it is very sensitve of him to take all women into consideration and honor them.

  211. Nita Kulesa says:

    Dearest Amy . . . you have obviously touched many women and have allowed them to express painful life experiences that were re-opened by well-meaning, if thoughtless Mother’s Day tributes. As you know, we’ve seen a wide range of “Odes to Mothers” over the many years at our church, and I’ve often worried about the emotions of women around me. Thanks for being a fabulous writer and a lovely friend! (Your Mom is alright, too!!!!) Now, Momma K. says, “Get some sleep!!)

  212. I would like to add another category that is often over looked. When I was young I made a poor, stupid, selfish and ultimately painful decision to abort my unborn child. Mothers day is a gut wrenching experience for me as I mourn my own mistakes and ultimately ended up being my only chance of being a mother as I am now barren. Not only is it painful to have such a fanfare to honor mothers only but it fills me with resound shame even though I know my Lord has forgiven me.
    No woman should ever be denied a flower on mothers day. I think the church Should honor all women and even little girls for we never know what the past or the future holds.

    • Kerrot, you’re right, this should have been included as well. Your shame has been nailed to the cross. Though there will be reminders of what could be, may it be well with your soul. Amy

  213. As I’ve read these posts and considered them much over the past few days, a question repeatedly comes to mind. The day is tough for many before we ever walk into the church building. We have been bombarded for days (or weeks) beforehand with advertising and all manner of media focused on the joys and the challenges of mothering. To honor mothers is good. To harm other women is rarely if ever the intent within the body of Christ.

    Yet I wonder, does God sometimes allow a deep pain to come to surface in a setting such as a church service so that He can bring healing? I sense that this year, at least in my own experience, that has been true. I thank Him for those individuals who did not stop with celebrating those who are mothers, but took time to see the potential pain I might face that day and moved toward me with gentleness and sensitivity, reminding me that I’m still a part of the body. They were His hands and feet, responding with courage and compassion in a way that honored His name. I am grateful.

    • Ann L. Pitman says:

      I began serving my current congregation in February. The first year is always like navigating a minefield not knowing all the past traditions around holidays. Based on my past experiences I was glad they were pretty low key about Mother’s day. I began our service with your prayer poem. I received an email from one of our deacons the following day thanking me for it as they had struggled through infertility issues prior to conceiving their now 3 year old. He thanked me for remembering & including their pain in the recognition of mothers. I suspect others in the congregation are unaware of this couple’s experience. No doubt there are others in the same situation that I have not heard from. Thank you for putting it into writing that I could share.

      • Ann, thank you for taking the time to share. My heart beat a bit faster as I read. As you said, “no doubt others are in this situation.” I find that validating someone’s situation goes a long way. No, we can’t remove it, we can’t make it go faster, but we can lessen the sting by saying “I SEE YOU. and you matter.” Appreciatively, Amy

  214. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much. This is precisely why I haven’t gone on Mother’s Day the last two years. After two miscarriages and the loss of my own mother in the last year and half, I just couldn’t take it.

  215. I love how you have worded this post. Lovely!
    Perhaps you have seen this article I’d like to share with you but in case you haven’t I’ll leave the link below… I think we place too much emphasis on the biology of it all on Mother’s Day.

    http://www.inpursuitoffulfillment.com/2011/05/defining-mom-in-praise-of-all-types-of-mothers

    Blessings

  216. Rebecca says:

    Not to lesson the reality of hurting women, but there are some of us who need that one moment to stand each year. We also have veteran’s day, president’s day, grandparent’s day, etc. which many people will never be or will never share great experienceswith them either. Maybe we shouldn’t bring attention to those people either? There are no promotions, no pay raises, no “attagirl’s”, and not much respect left in a modern “working mom” society for those of us who feel led to stay with our children as long as they are children. In an ideal world, our children’s smiles and hugs would be payment enough. However, once, just once, each year it is nice to hear that being a mom is special in and of itself.

    • Rebecca, I take it you haven’t read the comments :). We agree with you. Amy

      • Christine Bean says:

        Thanks Amy, Sometimes we need to be reminded to be sensitive to other women around this time of the year. I’m a mum but not all have had the same journey or road travelled and some of those journeys have been rough and God heals those that need it and fills the void sometimes. I hope I’m making sense. Thanks Chris B from Tasmania Australia

  217. I can’t tell you how much this article touched my heart!!! So so true. In their well-meaning effort to honor mothers, they make the rest of us feel like second class citizens or unworthy, defective women.
    My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in ’99, then uterine cancer in ’07. While she was recovering from radiation in early ’08, I was diagnosed with PCOS. She died in November ’08, exactly one week before my 30th birthday. I had a D&C nine days later, which revealed widespread endometriosis. My hysterectomy was Dec 31, 2008.
    My mother-in-law tells me I’m not a ‘real mother’, even though I’ve given my all to my stepchildren and step granddaughter.
    The reality of infertility, the hurtful words, and the well intentioned ‘celebration’ on Mothers Day of those blessed women, the ‘normal’ ones, who can bear children like nobody’s business, makes me realize I will never participate in the ‘celebration’, or be ‘normal’.
    Chubby hands stained with paint will never give me my special Mothers Day creation, I will never experience the sweet smell of baby lotion and cornstarch when changing my baby’s diaper, or get spit up on my band new shirt, or have puréed green beans thrown in my face.
    I’m almost 34 now, and I always assumed as time went it would get easier. It hasn’t yet. Every time a close friend confides in me that’s she’s expecting, attend a baby shower, or have a swaddled bundle thrust upon me so I can get my ‘baby fix’, I want to crawl in a hole.
    I will live with this pain for the rest of my life. Now I just need to accept it.
    My best friend is due in August. Guess who’s throwing the baby shower?

    • Shana, you have known such personal loss and show great resiliency. I’m sorry for the comments from your MIL, as they jab at a place that is already raw and being offered up. Yes, you will need to grieve and live with this reality, but I appreciate that that is what you are doing: LIVING with it (as evidenced by the baby shower in August). Amy

  218. JENNIFER says:

    Thank you for this post! It sums up hoe i feel too. I work at a church, so I can’t skip on mother’s day. As a woman called to singleness, i have settled in my heart the fact that I won’t have children, but I always feel like I’m looked down on during this time. Especially when im the only woman sitting down or when I have to refuse a rose from the little children that pass them out. This year, I told the little girl who tried to give me a rose “im not a mom”….the adult with them looked at my with pity un her eyes and said, “well, um, that’s ok….you can still come into church”…..felt like less of a woman simply causr I’m not a mom….that should not happen at church

    • Oh Jennifer, this is the kind of awkwardness I was referring to. For you, for those around you, for that child. No, it shouldn’t happen in church — not when we are told to “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden.” I hope that by commenting here, we, as your brothers and sisters, helped to bear the load a bit. Amy

  219. Amy, thanks for saying this! My husband and I have been married for 15 years, and have never been able to have children. We deeply, painfully struggled with this for about 8 years, and during those years, I learned that I just can’t attend church on Mother’s Day. After so many humiliating experiences, where I felt like a spotlight was turned on me that said, “look everyone, she’s less than…” I decided the day was better spent with my husband and I doing our own thing.

    Even though the pain of infertility isn’t as acute as it used to be, Mother’s Day brings all of that pain back. Staying away for us has been a tremendous blessing, just spending some special time together, the two of us. :-) It blesses no one else for me to be there, guarded and stressed out that something bad will happen.

    • Lisa, thanks for sharing. Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do is remove ourselves for a short while :). Amy

    • Lisa…I share your pain. I am 52 now and even though I think I should be “over” the infertility pain, I don’t think I ever will be completely. We are friends with another couple without children and so we have a Mother’s Day tradition of going out to breakfast that day instead of going to church. (Funny story, though. One year we went to a little place for breakfast and the hostess was handing out flowers to the “mothers”. Barbara and I just took our flowers and laughed.)

  220. I wish that I had time to read through all of the comments, because I find this discussion very interesting. I loved this article, I think Amy did a great job of relating what so many feel on Mother’s day. I am single and do not have children. I don’t think Mother’s day should be canceled, but “real women stood and empty shell sat” completely discribes how I have felt every time I have sat in a Mother’s day service. I agree with Jennifer, women, should not be made to feel like less of a women, just because they do not have children, but it happens all the time in churchs and not just on Mother’s day.

  221. (Rev) Tarris Rosell says:

    Amy, thank you for thoughtful reflections. When serving as a pastor, and in recent years as a seminary professor, I have thought often about the problems associated with both Mothers Day and Fathers Day observances in church. My life partner, also clergy (and mother of our 4 young adult children), and I have tried always to be inclusive and sensitive to those for whom parenting celebrations are complicated or painful. I suspect we’ve not succeeded always.
    Your litany is the best I’ve seen. It doesn’t surprise me that you are getting thousands of “hits” and replies and forwards–which is how this reached me, from a niece for whom motherhood has been, well, complicated.
    Thank you, Amy.
    BTW, I note your KU background. You make us Jayhawks proud! :) (I serve as clinical faculty at the med school.) Please keep writing and posting. The world is at your doorstep.

    (Rev) Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin
    Kansas City

    • Rev Tarris, (I can’t help it) Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, GO KU! The world may be at the doorstep, but my heart is never far from Lawrence. Nine of the best years of my life were spent there — and nine years simply was too short. I love Lawrence, the Jayhawks, driving on I-70. OK, you can see I am a nut when it come to this subject, I just start babbling, that’s how much I love it. I’m going to hit reply before I embarass myself :). Greet KU for me! Amy

      • (Rev) Tarris Rosell says:

        Nine years is a long time. Okay, I’m in Florida at the moment, but upon return to Kansas it will be, “Hey KU from Amy in China!” :)

  222. Thanks for this article. I am a newlywed in my late 30’s. I was divorced and never had children with my ex and know it seems like it may be too late. Mother’s Day has been difficult for me for years. This year the pastor had all the women stand and all the kids gave the mom’s a gift. All the women sat down when they got theirs. I was one of the last one’s on my side of the church to get one. I almost sat back down. I felt so awkward because everyone knows i am not a mother even though “all women help mother the children of the church.” I would have rather stayed seated than had to stand up for everyone to see.

    • Lois, this is why I’m not a fan of standing :). I had a friend this past Sunday where the pastor had mothers of six or more stand — she didn’t know if she should stand because they have four now and twins who died around age three. Everyone in their church knows about the twins. Thanks for sharing your experience. Amy

  223. I’m a pastor who also happens to be a mother. Our church does not celebrate civil or “Hallmark” holy days. We stick with the church calendar. The decision to do so is both theological and pastoral. Thank you for your candor. This topic is very important for the health of the church and the spiritual lives of individuals.

  224. Julie here from Edinburgh in Scotland. As a mum whose only boy, youngest of my 4kids, became autistic after vaccine damage, I stayed home on mothers day this year. It always hurts too much watching babies getting dedicated on mothers day, remembering the perfect little by I used to have who was damaged. He is a handsome sweet natured by who could have modelled for hollister or Abercrombie if only his speech and behaviour and understanding were not that of a 4year old.
    I love him to pieces but it’s still hard thinking on what he and I have missed out on and I hate this reminder every mothers day. It’s a day I feel guilt yet again for taking him for his vaccination and for not having managed yet to find enough answers to help him get further in his progress back to health.
    It was one of my daughters who said to me just to give myself a treat by staying in bed instead of going to church this year…wise words!

  225. D.M Westad says:

    Felt compelled to comment in my own blog: http://onelefteye.blogspot.ca/

    Please read and feel free to comment!

    • Ncumisa says:

      To D.M. Westad

      The tone of Amy’s blog post was not selfish in the least, nor did it smack of entitlement. It was simply a plea for compassion & understanding. That you could not see that is a reflection on your inability to empathise.

      I have never read Amy’s blog before today so this is not a “fan’s” opinion. I am just a Christian mother who has walked the road of infertility with friends & tries to understand their pain, encourage them through prayer & friendship & keep pointing them to the Lord. I agree with Amy wholeheartedly on this one and do not wish for other women to be needlessly excluded & hurt in a church meeting.

      • Thanks for your input, Ncumisa. BTW, you now hold the distinction of being my first commentor from outside North America. Congratulations!

        I as well do not wish for any women to be needlessly excluded & hurt in a church gathering. However, it’s a simple fact that recognizing one person or group of people by definition excludes others. The only way to be non-exclusive would be to not recognize anyone at all. What exactly is Amy Young proposing here, that we use Mother’s Day to recognize and honor every female of child-bearing years and above? I agree with the generally understood purpose of Mother’s Day, to show gratitude specifically to those who have sacrificed so much to help us grow and develop into healthy, productive people.

        You have, in fact, helped to prove one of my points, as a mother yourself: “The irony is that the majority of mothers are so selfless that they would refuse to recognize the error in Young’s thinking, and would gladly sacrifice some of their own much-deserved acknowledgement to show solidarity with her.” I commend you for your own selflessness, however I cannot agree with Amy Young’s position.

  226. Marty Bausman says:

    Well said…thought-provoking for those of us in ministry.

    As a pastor (and a dad, married to a wonderful mom to our two children), I have been blessed with those in my ministry who have served as “mothers” to my wife and me, and as “grandmothers” to our children. While we have always lived far away from our extended biological families, God has always provided godly women of faith to influence and protect us.

    On Mother’s Day, I recognize all of the women who are in attendance. Each of them have taken the role of spiritual parent to all of the children (and the adults) in our congregation. I challenge them to grow strong in their personal faith, that they show God’s love to all those who follow.

    My own son and d-i-l struggled with bearing children. Mothers and Fathers Days were hard for them, and harder each passing year. They recently adopted siblings, 3 and 4 years old. I thank God for the ladies in their church who were supportive during the struggles, and for those who are now serving as examples of the Christ-life in front of our grandchildren.

    • Thanks Marty, as you pointed out, even if we, ourselves, might not have this experience, we know and love people who do! This isn’t a “six degrees” of separation kind of a thing, it is often only one. Blessings on you and your family. Amy

  227. Shellee says:

    I had a friend who had no children but she “mothered” all the children in our church. She acknowledged that Mother’s Day was a sometimes a difficult day for her, but she also said that it was silly (her word) to not acknowledge Mothers just because not all of us had children. I agree. I am glad for just one day set aside to honor my mother. She deserves many more than one. I may not have children, but she deserves this special day of honor for all she did for me. I think Pastor’s could word things compassionately, buit don’t do away with Mother’s Day and make it a “Ladies Day”. Mothers are special in their way and we need them.

  228. So well said. Thanks for telling it like it is. I attempted a similar (less eloquent) statement in my facebook status on Mother’s Day, because, even though I’ve got a housefull of my own kids, I recognize the awkwardness & difficulty that many women deal with on Mother’s Day … “Happy Mothers’ Day to all my mom-friends! Mothers’ Day is a great chance to recognize all the wonderful moms we know … but this can also be a really hard day for those who’ve lost their mom, lost their child(ren), or longed to hold their own baby and haven’t had that privilege. So, here’s a special shout-out to the many wonderful ladies I know who have been, and are being, spiritual mothers to so many. I respect and appreciate each of you. :-)”

  229. Mother’ day is Hard and awkward….I miscarried on Father’s day almost 4 years ago, so both days are hard for me…Do I stand(and everyone looks at me like I am crazy, because they see no children, and don’t know I have a baby waiting in Heaven for me) or stay seated? This year I sat, last year I stood…..never sure what to do….Also. this year we are 10 months into adoption plans, waiting the long wait, but our children have been born already, we just don’t know them yet, so am I their mother yet…I pray for them daily like a mom, I worry about what they are going to go through before they can become mine(through the foster care system), but they are not mine yet, so…although their room is all ready for them, I still can’t stand…..Thank you for your letter and Poem…It has helped me to know others feel the same way!!!! God Bless!

    • Debbie, thanks for sharing a bit of your story too, it helps others to know that this impacts many! Blessings, Amy

  230. When in high school I was a cleaning lady for an elderly widower, my Mother told me how his beloved wife of 50 years used to sit with silent tears running down her cheeks every single Mother’s Day. They were never able to have children. Tears still spring to my eyes when I think of how this wonderful man hurt so for the wife he loved.

    Perhaps a previous poster mentioned this, but Mother’s Day has gotten over the top and away from its original purpose. It was started to honor the sacrifice of mothers whose sons were killed in the Civil War. More US soldiers died in that war than every other war combined, the mothers in our country paid dearly and this day was to honor them.

    I am a mother of 5, expecting No. 6, and have two babies waiting in heaven for me to meet for the first time some day. I have no sadness on that day yet my heart hurts for those who would love to be mothers and stand, or in our small church, come forward and receive a rose. I think I may print off your letter, if that is OK with you, and give it to our pastor.

  231. Krystin says:

    Two difficulties forgotten but felt in our family on Mother’s Day: single dad who stands in for mother and small child wondering why he has no mother.

  232. I didn’t read ALL the comments (there are so many) but I didn’t see anyone mention this: people trying to make me feel better by saying I’m a mom to my pets! I’m married, was infertile and now post-menopausal.

    I’ve even replied (to someone who was in my life group) “it’s not the same,” and she kept insisting.

    Sure, I love my pets. I’ve read that childless people dote on their pets more, and I don’t doubt it. But my pets are not going to appear on my family tree.

    Just another reason why I’m probably going to stay home from church next Mother’s Day.

    • That someone would keep insisting that a pet is the same … well, they just Do.Not.Get.It.

      • How right you are. I just ran across a scripture that expresses it… Prov. 12:18a, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts.” (ESV)

      • p.s. In retrospect, I suppose she wasn’t trying to say it’s the same… just that I could participate in Mother’s Day. Still, missing the point.

    • Oh that’s awfully painful, Terri! Especially when others don’t pick up on your gentle conversational steering.

      My situation is also a little awkward, and I have had good friends who know about my miscarriages tell me I should be celebrated on Mother’s Day because I teach children’s piano lessons professionally. I love my students and I am so grateful to be a part of their lives, but it is a huge slap in the face to tell me that interacting with a bunch of kids for 30 minutes a week means I’m more of a mom than carrying little babies inside me who died way too early.

      Let me just say, Terri, that whatever you are doing in your life to obey God, and whatever He is working in you is VALUABLE. And even if it doesn’t feel this way, the gospel at work in your life, sanctifying you, blessing others, and bringing glory to God, matters just as much as “being a mom.” He doesn’t judge things the same way as us.

  233. Well said. It’s not just mothers and non-mothers though… it’s all those times pastors ask people to stand or raise their hand where those left out are as much singled out as those responding. It makes me cringe on their behalf. So I would like to add if I may a message to any pastors reading this: pastors, you have a tough job. Much is demanded of you. But mostly, while you need to be everything to so many people, dynamic, full of wise leadershop, a shoulder and an authority, remember this, please: lean, lean, lean on the Holy Spirit. Stay ever so sensitive in His sensitivity, flow with the Dove and let him always lead you. God is Love. The rest, the teaching, preaching, encouraging, gentle rebuking, is only the cup that holds the wine. Love is gentle, love is kind, love thinks of others. Love first. Let God achieve.

  234. GOSSSSHHHH. Well said. And thank you SO MUCH for saying it. Really, really, really.

  235. jneufeldt says:

    A pastor friend of mine was asking about mother/father’s day stuff at other churches, he blogged about it here: http://anabaptistly.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/beyond-mother-and-fathers-day/ and I sent him to your page. He was touched by your words a lot, I think it will inspire him for future services.

  236. samscara says:

    This raised thoughts of my sister, who my therapist has identified as a sociopath. She is also a mother, and gets a lot of attention out of that role. I’m sure she stands up in church every Mother’s Day. (I wouldn’t know though, since we are estranged after she physically attacked me; she has not contacted me since, and I’ve never even met her children.) Being a mother doesn’t automatically qualify a person for some higher status (despite the example we hold holy of Jesus’ own mother). Being a good parent is commendable and praiseworthy. But it’s much rarer.

  237. Thank you for your posts, in my church if you are not married nor have a child its your worst night mare, not only then, but unless you are married you have no identity.

  238. Dear Amy,
    Thanks so much for your letter. Before my ordination and a church to serve, I shared your link with many pastors whose services I attended on Mother’s Day. Now, as the solo pastor of the congregation I serve, I’d love to reprint your article in our May newsletter. I think it’ll help the very traditional congregation understand why I’m doing things a little differently than they are used to on Mother’s Day. I also think that it’ll help me personally with the insensitive comments people can make about our sort of choice not to have a second child because of infertility issues. Also, I know there are many women who have been silent out this in our congregation for a long time, and I’m sure that I can’t write this any more eloquently than you. Please let me know as soon as possible. My e-mail is pastorjess (dot) harren (at) g mail (dot) com.

    Thanks again!

    • I’ll email you … but for others, please know that as long as you credit me, you are welcome to use this! I’m thankful it is being used to help the body and point people to God and each other.

  239. Dear Amy,

    I join the long line of commenters who so appreciate your thoughtful words. I came across your post last year and saved a note to myself in an event in my calendar this week so I’d remember it as I planned worship for Mother’s Day this year. I’m so glad I did! We’re going to use your liturgy (with the additions your posted a couple of weeks later) in our service and I’m so grateful for the depth of your piece.

    I’m going to share this with a couple of groups of young clergy I’m part of; I know they’ll find it as much a gift as I have. Thank you for standing up and telling the truth!

    Rev. Brent Wright

    • Dear Rev. Brent,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let us know a bit of how this post will be used with your flock. So appreciate you and others pastors! Amy

  240. I know you posted this a year ago, but my friend just posted the link on facebook and I wanted to tell you I really appreciate this. Mothers’ Day is a painful holiday for me because my maternal Grandmother died on Mothers’ Day in 2007, and the annual reminder of it still hurts. I also am in the awkward position of being one of a very small number of single, childless women at my church (which is mainly 20-30-somethings, so we have an explosion of babies and toddlers). I don’t mind that part of my church on the average day, but if they did the “Mothers stand’ thing you’re describing (which I think the church I went to growing up did) it would be a pretty isolating experience. I don’t even want to be a mother, but what if I did? I have a number of friends who fit into a lot of the categories on your list too; women who have had miscarriages, who have tried to get pregnant and couldn’t, and even a dear friend who wants to have children but is waiting until she and her husband are financially able to take care of a baby.

    Anyway, I really appreciate this call for sensitivity, and reading through some of the comments has been amazing.

    • Kira, I’m impressed you’ve read through them :)! I have been so privileged to have God lift the curtain on this one and let us see behind it a bit of what’s really going on for people. Amy

  241. Amy,

    It’s the afternoon here on the East coast of the US, so forgive me if I don’t sit & sip my coffee, but I’ve got a Pepsi if that counts? ;o)

    Interesting article…hadn’t though of it that way to be honest. While I can understand it making some people uncomfortable on occasion, I think we should be honoring mothers & fathers…

    Being a father who is currently alienated from his daughter because my ex-wife, I understand how it might be painful at times, but Father’s should be honored on “their day”. I would still stand if our church does this. I pray that my daughter will get her head straight at some point & realize her mothers’ lies & reach out to me & my wife (her stepmother).

    And Mothers’ day will be painful since I lost my mother to her 2nd bout of cancer not quite a year ago. So do I want other mothers to be honored because of my pain? No!

    Kinda reminds me of our PC culture that we’re in now…there isn’t a championship trophy for sports teams because we don’t want those who DIDN’T finish first to feel bad, so we give them all ribbons. Perhaps we should stop looking at OUR situation in these occasions and simply honor those that are being honored. I know that’s what I’ll be doing this year for Mothers’ and Fathers’ day…a

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, we are honored to hear it. I’m saddened to hear that you and your daughter are estranged at the moment, and like you, trust that some day she will want a relationship with you. I’m also sorry to hear of the death of your mother. I’m in complete agreement that mothers and fathers are worthy of honoring (so is God as it’s a commandment :)), and sorry if that didn’t come through in the letter. I think we might disagree on the ways mothers are honored. AND if you poked around last June, you’d see there was a letter for Father’s Day too :). While I’m kind of a Pepsi hater :) … I’ll clink my Diet Coke can with your Pepsi can and say, thanks again for popping in! Amy

  242. I’m a year late to this party but I think these words need to be spoken, read and heard. I’m a mom of two but I’ve been in mother’s day services when I wasn’t, and even more in recent years, I’ve become more aware of those for whom Mother’s Day might be uncomfortable or hurtful. So thank you!
    Lisa Bartelt recently posted…5 on Friday: Meaningful gifts I’ve receivedMy Profile

    • Thanks Lisa — that’s the thing, this touches all of us whether we are mothers, have had mothers, or been impacted by those acting as mothers :)

  243. I want to add that I have been on both sides of this identity. I had several miscarriages before I gave birth to my first child then one more miscarriage and 3 years later my second child was born when I was 43 years old. So, I felt that pain, including that feeling of inadequacy all so vividly and acutely before my children. But, I also feel a need to honor “mothers”, not so much with gifts but with recognition. I agree they should not be asked to stand. In our church, we have toned down the mother’s day honoring a great deal, but I feel the message can be so much more about women who are nurturing and caretakers rather than a woman who has actually given birth. So many women are heroic nurturers and caretakers. I am so proud to be a mom and have felt both great pain and great joy in the process. I never liked the commercialization involved in “Mother’s Day” but I do think a day to honor women who mother is important – just one day!

  244. One Mother’s Day our (new, but not young) pastor announced that everyone should come forward and pick up a Hershey’s Kiss for their mother. “Not the woman who is like a mother to you, or the nice lady next door, but the WOMAN WHO GAVE BIRTH TO YOU,” he emphasized light-heartedly. Well, our 10-year-old daughter (now 16) is adopted.She was confused, and I was hurt. I spoke out, “OR ADOPTED,” and he picked up on it, fortunately. I understand wanting to honor motherhood, not “womanhood,” but let’s actively seek ways to make things not awkward. Really.

    Blessings,
    Voni
    Voni Harris recently posted…Word Nerd Wednesday: TruthMy Profile

  245. I am a doula, and I plan to share your PDF with everyone I possibly can on Mother’s Day. Thank you for making it available to me, the message is perfect, the verbiage is beautiful, and the sentiments are so “on.” I appreciate and honor your contribution. Thank you.

    • Intown Doula, I appreciate hearing every now and then how this will be used by God through people. Thanks for letting me know. Amy

  246. I read many of the comments, but wasn’t able to get to quite all of them, so I am sorry if this was addressed & I missed it. There are a couple of other reasons that women may not be mothers, even though they may have a tremendous desire to. Disabling chronic illnesses and other disabilities may prevent women from having children. And, some women & their husbands may just not be in a place where they could provide financially for their potential children, so they may chose not to have them despite wanting them desperately. In many cases, the disability winds up causing the financial issues. Having disabilities, people are forced into giving up on many dreams, and this can be one of the most devastating. Disabilities also tend to cause people to get overlooked/forgotten in many situations, and this seems to be yet another area where that is true.

    • Mag 7, there sure are a lot of comments to make your way through, aren’t there :). As you so kindly pointed out, there are multiple reasons for not being a mother (or father) and when it comes laced with a dashed dream, there are no words adequate to mark your suffering. I’m praying for you and others as I type. Thank you for honoring us with this gentle reminder. Peace to you. Amy

    • Yes, yes, yes, Mag 7. Disability and illness rob you of so much and can be so isolating, and the grief around not having children because of something that has already stolen so very much is devastating. *It counts*. Thank you for voicing this. I feel a tiny bit less invisible. Amy, thank you for making room for this conversation.

  247. Matthew says:

    Thank you for this post. As a pastor who tries to recognize the diversity of life experience present in the congregation gathered every Sunday morning, I’ve struggled with how to appropriately recognize Mother’s Day. This year, having seen the permission you gave to so many others to use this post in their own context, I’ll be publishing your list in our congregation’s bulletin this year (with attribution and thanks, of course). Thank you for your kind and thoughtful and helpful and insightful words.

  248. O God our Mother and Father, look with favor upon the ministry of women as bishops, priests and deacons in your Church. Send your blessings upon the congregations committed to their charge, fill them with knowledge of Your truth, enlighten them with Your holy wisdom, and grant that they may nourish Your people with the compassion of our Savior Jesus, Who lives and reigns with You forever with the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

  249. Every year on mother’s day I consider staying home from church. My church actually gave out roses to mothers one year. I am the single woman who wants to be married with children. Instead, I am 33, single and childless.

    • Casey — thank you for posting here and giving a face to something that’s easy to overlook because it’s hard to deal with and people aren’t sure what to say. May you sense an extra dose of his presence this year.

  250. Yes, I remember a bittersweet Mother’s Day service years ago when they celebrated all the moms and I was next to my friend who was a mother but had bravely given up her little girl for adoption because she was young and not ready for parenting…….

    • I love the word bravely! Many years ago I lived in a group home for pregnant teens … placing your child for adoption is not for the faint of heart!

  251. Denise says:

    Saw this in a Facebook post and came to your blog through it. I totally agree. It was awkward for me until I adopted. As a single mom I have struggled for years with how the many sermons on marriage and families are addressed as well. It’s no wonder so many young adults have stopped going to church.

  252. As someone who has had a very complicated journey to motherhood, I appreciate this letter very much. I placed my first child for adoption at the age of 17 and ever since then church on Mother’s Day has been very difficult. In 2011 my second child passed away at 12 days old. You better believe there was no way I was going to church on Mother’s Day last year. I recently gave birth to my third child and am very blessed to have him home with me. I still probably won’t go to church on Mother’s Day as it is filled with so many complicated emotions for me (that and my son is a preemie, so we are still avoiding large crowds).

    The only thing I would change about your letter is to include birthmothers.

    “A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the LOVE she holds in her heart.” – Franchesca Cox
    Morgan recently posted…18 monthsMy Profile

    • Morgan, thanks for adding about birthmothers! And did you know Fran designed this blog? I love that you quote her. Amy

  253. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This has needed to be said for so long.

  254. MelissaC says:

    Truly, Mother’s Day 2008 was one of the hardest days of my life. On that day (May 8th), Mother’s Day in our family became a bittersweet day when my nephew (who lived with his dad) drowned at the age of three. It’s hard to separate May 8th and Mother’s Day and his death. My sister (his mom), my mom, and I all share on our social media something to recognize him, but Mother’s Day can especially hard, as the day is more blatantly recognized, but I don’t fault anyone for that.

    One of the things I appreciate about our church is that they honor all women during the services, and the men’s ministry gives a brunch between services. Our youth pastor and his wife have no kids at this point, but they have a dog (their “kid) and a few dozen teens that they love, care for, and pray over. I think it’s important for us to remember that even when an adult doesn’t have children of his/her own, there are often people in his/her life that have significant roles ~ and that deserves honoring as well.

    • Oh it is a cruel irony that such a young child would drown on that day. I can see how having a separate day for your family to remember the loss would be helpful. And I like the ways that your church involves folks. Will think of you and your family and your loss this year on Mother’s Day.

  255. To this I will add consideration of those who may have lost their mother or never knew her for whatever reason. I will be delivering the message at church on Mother’s Day this year, and I like the idea honoring all the wonderful loving hearts that are involved with children, or taking care of aging parents.

    Thank you for this blog!

  256. Thank you for posting this! I have experienced this before. I had been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby at the time. The pastor preached the most BEAUTIFUL sermon & gave the utmost honor to mothers….But I was not one. I got so upset inside that I really did want to run, but I didn’t want to disrupt the service or make the pastor feel bad. (I don’t think I ever said anything to him, I know he was just thinking about his own mother). Later, when I moved closer to my mom, I focused on her & did fine. Then a few years ago I got on facebook on Mother’s day before church (BIG MISTAKE!) all my friends wishing everyone & me a Happy Mothers Day. (Don’t do that, I’m not a mom, it hurts). I knew Mom was expecting me to sit with her. So I went. I talked to my current pastor, crying. He assured me the sermon wasn’t going to be like that, but I was too worked up inside. I came home & a few minutes later my mom was knocking on the door. We had our own Mother’s Day together. It ended up being a special day after all. I am so blessed to still have my mom. But now I know, I don’t get on facebook & I don’t go to church on that day.

    • Ah Facebook … maybe another letter could gives some tips for FB use :). But I think your suggestion is wiser, just don’t look at it :). I’m thankful you were able to talk to your pastor and your mom understood and now you both have the experience and memory.

  257. Beautifully said!

  258. Amy – my sentiments exactly!
    I am single, never married – nearing 70 years old, so that dream is long ago surrendered.

    I was, however, an elementary classroom teacher so many opportunities have been in my life for nurturing and being a spiritual mother to many.

    One Mother’s Day, when all the mothers were asked to stand at my church so they could receive carnations, a woman who knew I was newly retired from my years as a teacher, came over and handed me her carnation. She thanked me for all my years of mothering children.

    I spoke with my pastor later and told him that all women need to be included in “Mother’s Day” – as all have the gene to be nurturing in life in many ways. The following year we ALL got carnations.

    He did he same thing for Father’s Day – honoring all men for the contributions they make in their lives.

    I am going to post this article/blog entry of yours on my FB page come Mother’s Day. Hooray for taking this stand. :)

    God bless!
    Lynn
    Lynn Severance recently posted…Trusting the Hands of the Potter to Transform His ClayMy Profile

    • Thanks Lynn … I’m thankful that others noticed and reached out to you :). That’s part of the heart of the letter, just notice what’s going on in those around you and acknowledge it. Life can be hard, and that’s OK/the way it is, but we can at least share the burdens and not add to them! And I love that you were a teacher! Fellow teachers unite :)

  259. Ann Voskamp @ A Holy Experience gave a link today to this post. I am so grateful she did for I am not a mother in the “normal” sense. No children. I have cared for my mother until just this past January as she died at 98, almost 99. She was living here near me for 15 years as I cared for her daily. So I mothered my dear mother. But I struggle with going to church on Mother’s Day and have for years. Standing and receiving carnations… and there I sit. One time, a child gave me a flower because I believe he did not understand or thought I needed one. Another time, a lovely woman came to me after the service and gave me her flower and thanked me for being a spiritual mom to her. But tears always explode on Mother’s Day at church. I just cannot do it. Your post is so beautifully real to me and I thank you for being open and honest. I read only part of the comments as there are MANY. But the female pastor who was going to read your words from the pulpit touched me for that is where this needs to come from and go out to the flock. Praising Him for you this day, a year later. Caring through Christ, ~ linda
    ~ linda recently posted…Be On the Alert!My Profile

    • Linda, thanks for letting me/us know that Ann has linked to this, I hadn’t seen it. I’m thankful that more pastors than we know have also shared this from the pulpit. Whether you go to church this year or not, may you sense God’s presence with you! Amy

  260. Your post makes me want to stand on my chair and cheer. I have never given birth and never will. Every Mother’s Day I end up in tears when the pastor asks all the moms to stand.

    We live in a mommy world. The first thing new friends used to ask me was, “Do you have kids?” I survived years of answering that with a glib, “No.” Now that I’m almost 50, I also get to hear, “Do you have grandkids?” It’s a new level of an old pain. A double-whammy, so to speak. All of that to say, THANK YOU for this post. Bless you.

    • I understand people’s desire to connect (and assume that most women have kids) — maybe a better question might be, “What’s something interesting / unique about your family?” PA thanks for commenting :)

  261. Char Siebenaler says:

    As a mother, with children, I also find it uncomfortable because so often the psalm about the virtuous woman is this ideal that I can’t do…. she’s so domestic, and manages her house and business perfectly…..her husband and her children rise up and call her blessed…..and the Irish tenor sings “M” is for the many things……etc. It’s huge myth to live up to…nice to honor Mom myself, but not to be honored with mushy sentimentality. I know my boys will never really know about the love I am talking about until they have their own, and so we are back to talking about the pain of not experiencing that if you don’t have kids…… I may never have grandchildren, but there’s no reason I can’t play that role in a child’s life…..it takes a village to raise a child as they say….. so in a way there is a role of parenting for all of us…..children are more grounded when they are secure in the love of the people around them…… That is a beautiful thing…..giving of yourself is what parenting is about….not doing it for ourselves,,,,, Does this make any sense?
    What a beautiful world it could be!

  262. Marilyn Logan says:

    Nine years ago my Mothers Day started in a way I would not wish for anyone. At 12:00 am I am still sitting by the bed in my son’s room in ICU. I have known he was dead for less than 24 hours but they were keeping him alive while waiting for all of the other people got into place for transplant surgeries. At 7:00 am they came and took him away and I knew I would never have my son again. At 9:00 am they called me in the ICU Waiting Room to let me know that they had harvested the organs and would be turning all of the machinery off. He is gone completely. I would never again hug him or laugh with him or talk to him. Now I had to look at his children and see him in them. I had to wait for his fourth child to be born. The baby that would never know his daddy. I had to look at a toddler that for some strange reason had some of the quirky habits that his daddy had. The two older ones know that their daddy is gone but not I am not sure exactly what they understand. They will all grow up without their daddy and would never again look at things they same way that they took for granted. I was left with the rest of the day to make those calls to friends and others who needed to know. That night I finally fell asleep after being up for 54 hours. Then came Monday. My first errand for the day was to make cremation arrangements. As I filled out the check I made a stark realization that it was my birthday. What a way to celebrate. The second errand of the day was to be in the court room when the man that murdered my son was arraigned for second degree murder. I had to see the monster that took my son from me. I had to see him as the small man he would become as the trial and hearing would take place. Yes I had a son. He was the third born of my four sons. I have 3 sons left to celebrate Mothers Day. But don’t look down on me if I do not celebrate the day. It was been 9 years but it might as well have been 9 minutes ago. While my birthday was never a big day for me it is now a dreaded day as I remember filling out that check. Don’t ask me to get over it. I have not had enough time to process all of the events and feelings. I still had all the hearings and the trial to go through. It was a small victory when he was convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter. It was a small victory when I had my opportunity to tell him what he had taken from my family. It was an even smaller victory when he was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Yes 33 months!! While I know that I have to acknowledge that I have 3 sons left to celebrate with as well as my 4th ones memories. I have the grandchildren to celebrate the day with. But please do not ask me to stand, wave a hand, or even have a smile on that day. Now you know why I do not stand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please don’t ask me to stand.

    • Marilyn, you and your family have suffered a great loss indeed. Words will be inadequate to mark the depth and breadth of it … but to those who read this, would you please pause for a moment and pray for Marilyn and her family. We sit with you and mourn, albeit in a small way and from a distance.

  263. Linda Holder says:

    “And will those who had a mother please stand?”

    • Linda, I get your point — but there are still a few who didn’t have mothers or had very, very horrible mothers. Maybe “Who had a mother or other women stand in for a mother.”

  264. There is nothing wrong with having mothers be publicly recognized one day a year. There is no good reason to turn it into listing all of the depressing things that could possibly be related to motherhood. Celebrating motherhood is the purpose of Mother’s Day and it is selfish to try to take that away because god hasn’t given you what you think you need. I have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years and it’s hard at times to see everyone having babies all around me but I would never consider taking away their joy because I want what they have.

    • Hi Jayme, I”m not sure if this comment is directed at me or other comment-ers. :) Either way, it’s not the intention of this letter to take things away. Instead, the hope to show that life can be hard for all of us, but we are not left alone! We have each other and regardless of your path. I’m just not keen on standing :) Thank you for your comment! Amy

  265. My oldest child is 8. I have not attended a Mother’s Day service in over a decade. We were 6 years waiting and wondering if we’d ever have a child. If I can read the Spectrum of Mothering to the congregation, I may just go back. Thank you.
    Mama B recently posted…Shortcakes and Chocolate SauceMy Profile

    • Mama B, this, this comment, it got to me. If this can be used as a bridge for you, may it be so. It’s all grace and I hope you can share a bit of your story (and this) with others. xx A

      • Mama B says:

        It would take something like this for me to break through my own personal walls and go again. My 2 children have never had the chance to make a Mother’s Day craft for me at church like the other kids (not a big deal, but a sentimental one). I’ve kept myself from going because of the memory of seeing all the happy moms with their little ones and feeling so much pain. I never wanted to be the cause of that for anyone else. But if I can share this with my church family, maybe healing can come to more than just me. Thank you again, Amy.
        Mama B recently posted…Shortcakes and Chocolate SauceMy Profile

  266. Hi Amy- thanks so much for such a thoughtful letter to Pastors. I have long cringed in attending church on Mother’s day- partly because my own Mom died when I was a teen, partly because of many years of struggle with infertility, along with many years of an adoption wait but a divorce before the adoption. Many years and much healing later, thanks to the Lord, I remarried a wonderful man who is father to adult children and there are grandchildren, but I have always been sensitive about the day. I am grateful for the blessing of loving many children in my life but my heart goes out to all people- everyone has had a Mother or has been mothered by someone special, and there needs to be sensitivity for all. You have written well and I send you my thanks. Carol

  267. Hi Amy- thanks so much for such a thoughtful letter to Pastors. I have cringed in attending church on Mother’s day- partly because my own Mom died when I was a teen, partly because of many years of struggle with infertility, along with many years of an adoption wait but a divorce before the adoption. Many years and much healing later, thanks to the Lord, I remarried a wonderfu