Where Do I Stand on Mother’s Day?

“Would all of the mothers please stand?”

All the mothers stand.

Everyone applauds, looking around and smiling.

A song plays while the elders hand deliver roses to each mother.

I sit by myself (my husband is in the sound booth).  I feel publicly humiliated.  I am trying not to register any emotion, but I feel deep spasms of sobs coming on.  At last the song ends and there is a prayer–I can run to the bathroom and cry.  But even then, there’s no escape; my friend is in there nursing her infant, and she smiles up at me.  I lock myself in a stall barely in time before tears come.

That was the last time I ever went to church on Mother’s Day.

Since then, I’ve reflected frequently on the experience, especially on the one Sunday a year when I stay home from church.  Am I being selfish?  Unreasonable?  Controlled by my emotions?  What can I change about my own attitude and behavior that would bring more glory to God?  By God’s grace, I’ve recognized a lot of deep-seated bitterness in my heart, repented of it, and I am now in much more peaceful, joyful, and contented place.  Rather than responding in anger to people’s thoughtless comments, I now think, “How can I educate them?  How can I help them understand so that they don’t hurt someone who is in a more vulnerable place than I am?”

But I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day.  It’s partially a desire to keep myself in a mentally healthy place.  If I’m being honest, it’s also a mild protest.  Children ought to honor their mothers on every day of the year, not just one day.  Families can honor their mothers at home (I LOVE Skyping with my mom and wishing her a happy Mother’s Day).  So why does the church feel the need to set aside a special time in the worship service to honor mothers?  What about the contributions of women who are single or who are childless?  I’ve mentored, coached, disciplined, and prayed for hundreds of students over the years.  Do those contributions matter in the church’s economy?  I know where I belong in my career and in the secular academic world.  Is there a place for me in the church?

“Would all the mothers please stand?” the smiling elder asks.

Where do I stand on Mother’s Day?

This is a post I wrote in 2013.  Last year, for a number of reasons, I decided to go back to church on Mother’s Day, and I plan to go back again this year.  Here’s a recent post that shows what God is teaching me about this subject two years later.

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5 thoughts on “Where Do I Stand on Mother’s Day?

  1. I happened upon your blog after researching Ann Voskamp’s book for our book club discussion. I’ve been sucked in!! I really appreciate your candid and concise posts. This one, however, really struck me. I have sat through many mother’s day services in which mothers are asked to stand (our church gives flowers to the mothers who have been mothers the longest and shortest amounts of time), but I have never considered what it must be like for women who are not mothers–either by choice or circumstance. Thank you for opening my eyes to this and reminding me to be more aware of those around me.

    • Thank you very much, Katy! Sometimes I think only my mother-in-law faithfully reads my blog, so it’s nice to know that there are a few other readers. It’s funny to read this post now, and it’s hard to believe that I wrote it just a few months ago. I’m such a different place now from what I was even back in May. I wrote a post recently about being suddenly, weirdly okay with our God-given childlessness. But my heart still breaks for women who continue to struggle with infertility and whose churches might not always be the most sensitive. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to stop by, read, and comment! Much appreciated and blessings to you!

  2. I know this post is a few years old, but I just found it and am posting a link to it on my infertility blog. It will be included in a list of articles about how it’s difficult to attend church on Mother’s Day for many women struggling with infertility. Thank you for writing this.

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