Yesterday my husband and I picked out Mother’s Day cards for our moms. We are both blessed to have our parents still married to each other and have good relationships with our moms. Celebrating our moms and being thankful for them is the easy part of Mother’s Day.
The hard part of Mother’s Day is dealing with the fact that well into our ninth year of marriage we remain childless. For whatever reason, God has not chosen to bless us with any children.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate which is what makes this Mother’s Day even more of a challenge for me.
Like most women who want children and don’t have them, Mother’s Day can present a real dilemma. Of course we want to honor our own mothers. At the same time, we would prefer to just skip the day all together since it can be a hard reminder of something painful in our lives.
The first few years we were married, Mother’s Day didn’t bother me too much. We hadn’t been “trying” very hard and we were open to letting God decide the size and timing of our family. However, each year it became a little harder, especially going to church where everything revolved around honoring mothers that day. So, like many couples, the past few years we have simply chosen to worship at home on Mother’s Day rather than deal with all the “stuff” associated with the day. It is a choice we have been content with.
This year presents a new challenge because in October we had a miscarriage around the sixth week. I actually got out my calendar yesterday and counted. If I had not lost that baby, I would be around thirty weeks right now. I would have gone into Mother’s Day just about ready to deliver. And David would have had a beautiful new baby to carry into church on Father’s Day in June.
Which I guess gets me to the main point of this entry. How does a childless mother celebrate Mother’s Day?
What does it mean to be a childless mother on Mother’s Day?
After my miscarriage I posted some questions on a Christian women’s discussion board since I was trying to sort through the whole thing. For me, the hardest part has been the theological aspect. When something like a miscarriage happens, you think about all kinds of things that never crossed your mind before. Am I a mom? What do I do on Mother’s Day? If I’m in church and they ask all the mothers to stand, do I stand up? To stand up seems awkward since I have no living children. And yet to not stand up seems to minimize the life of the child who was only here so briefly and is now with Christ.
I still haven’t found an answer that completely satisfies me.
So this year my heart goes out not only to the childless women as it has each year before, but to the women like me who are childless mothers on Mother’s Day. I pray that God’s grace will be poured out on each of us during this season.
I was so affected by this, and sorry for the loss of your little one. This is what came to me:
Mother’s Day is about honoring you as a mother. You should do what makes you feel most honored. If that means standing up to acknowledge the preciousness of your baby in heaven, then do it. If standing makes you feel more conspicuous than honored, than remain sitting with your husband and know that both of you and God value your little one’s life, and that value is not diminished because you remain sitting.
A friend of mine dealt with this very same thing- actually hers was a difficult and dramatic example of this. She was almost 5 months pregnant and lost her baby 3 days before Mothers’ Day because of a spinal & brain problem that left the child with improper development inside of her. That Mothers Day will always stick out in my mind. I was actually 7 months pregnant with my 2nd child, and all the women of the church (including myself) were weeping and sharing in her grief. They gave us roses that day, and she ended up with a bouquet because of all the women sharing in her grief. While it was a difficult service, we all knew how to deal with it in that situation– of COURSE we would grieve with her, support her, weep with her, etc. It’s harder when a mom had a miscarriage that no one knew about, or that people have forgotten about. Perhaps that’s when a friend comes and stands by you that day, shouldering the grief with you.
Though I’ve had 3 children, I’ve also had 2 miscarriages. Even when you HAVE children, it’s hard to know how to answer the question, “how many children do you have?” (Sometimes it doesn’t even come up but sometimes you think, “well, 3 on this side, 2 on the other.”)
Something I read last week shed some light on all of this and is actually what I wanted to share. It is this: God is working out the process of sanctification in all of us. Some women (for whatever reason) are best able to be sanctified by God with children (even an abundance thereof!), and some are best able to be sanctified through barrenness. Just like some people are sanctified through successful business (and having to manage and sort out the priorities of that) and others are sanctified through poverty or a constant financial struggle throughout their lives (this would be my parents).
All that to say… in the body of Christ, we moms (which I understand now includes you) 🙂 need to learn to support and love and stand alongside the barren/childless/infertile woman/couple. (WHATEVER that may mean- sometimes it’s just praying from a distance– sometimes it will mean more.) Additionally, as the body of Christ, a childless woman needs to learn to rejoice with those women who are pregnant, have children, etc. (That sounds difficult and harsh, but it’s biblical- that we should weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.) You may find, but may not because your story is different from mine (my miscarriages happened after 2 children), that it’s often difficult for a women WITH children to know what to say to a childless woman. There is a natural barrier of, “well you can’t understand because you HAVE them…”- and as a mom, you kind of know it’s true, at least in part. You CAN’T fully understand what it is to be childless for 9 years. That’s an unknowable thing if you’re like me (all dh and I have to do is closely pass each other in our small kitchen and BAM! we’re pregnant!) 🙂 But I try to be very sensitive and careful in that situation. I want to support, pray, and stand by those friends of mine who struggle with this, but it is difficult. If I’m honest, I never know what to say or if I’m saying too much or not enough.
We all have to work at being a part of the Body, and we also all have to realize that we’re ALL going through the process of sanctification– it just looks different in each of our lives.
Blessings to you-
These are the comments that were left when my blog was at a previous Blogger location:
::Hugs:: I, too, am a childless mother. We got pregnant three months after we got married, and then I miscarried (on Mothers’ Day no less). That was 5 years ago, and we have not been able to get pregnant since. I go through the same dilemma every year regarding mothers day. If a church is going to honor women on mothers day, it should be all women, not just ‘mothers’ b/c we all are, or will be, motherly to someone (I feel motherly toward the toddler I babysit). This year we will be living near my mother-in-law, so that will help take some of the focus and dilemma away b/c it will be a day to honor her (my mom passed away 8 years ago). I know that God has a child that needs a me for a mom–whether that child comes from my womb or another country or the foster care system.
Another childless mom,
May God bless you as you live with this harsh providence. I will pray for you and your husband that you be comforted in His sovereignty; even through this.
This is a poem that my mom emailed to me after a recent miscarriage. I hope it will bless you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers this Mother’s Day.
In heaven there must surely be
A special place, a nursery
Where “little spirits” not fully grown
Go to live in their heavenly home.
The angels must attend with love
Tiny spirits on wings of doves,
The choir of angels must sing lullabies
Maybe quieting their tiny cries.
The Father must come by each day
To cuddle and play in a special way
These tiny spirits left earth too soon
Little ones called Home from the womb.
These sparks of life did not perish
But came to the Father’s love to cherish.
To grow and be taught in His own arms
Safely away from all earthly harm.
The comforter was sent to earth at once
To the parents who lost their little one
Their hears so ache, their arms feel empty
The question “why” seems so tempting.
Then all at once in the midst of tears
There comes a peace that stills the fears.
The parents share the Father’s need
To hold their tiny spirit being.
They relinquish their own desperate hold
and release their baby to the Father’s fold.
Then comes an angel to whisper the truth
Of a nursery in Heaven bearing rich fruit.
Of tiny spirits chosen to worship the Father
A place that couldn’t be filled by another
Called to be spared from the struggles of earth
Chosen to be one of Heaven’s births.
So Father, whisper words of love from me
to our unborn life in your nursery.
You are a mother! The length of a life does not determine whether or not a person is a parent. You have had a child, for however brief a time, therefore you are a mother. Don’t let the preconcieved prejudices of others form your views. Stand and be honored. Who knows, by refusing to deny yout parenthood, you may be instrumental in helping others to learn how to mourn for the little ones who have gone home early, and in bringing about a return to a culture of life. I am so sorry for your loss. May God wrap you in His arms of love and comfort you and your husband.
Hausfrau Cheri said…
Yes, you are a mother. Whether God, the maker and giver of life chooses to take back His gift so early or leaves them here is HIS decision. I don’t know what I would do in a church service, it would definately raise questions, but maybe those are the questions the church needs answered. God will guide you and your husband when you are ready.
I agree on honoring women who have never born a child from their own bodies as well. For years I stayed with my parents and had a major influence on the lives of my younger siblings as well as children in my church. There are many more ways to be worthy of honor than just being the physical vessel that brings a child into the world.
This verse has long been a comfort to me and it clearly says you have the right to claim such a place of honor!!
Isa 54:1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
May God’s peace flow through you especially at this time!!
I feel for you. My DH and I have been trying for 18 years and haven’t even gotten pregnant once. I try to focus on honoring our mothers, they so richley deserve it. I also try hard to enjoy the church service on Mother’s Day for all the moms who need a little recognition and encouragement for all that they do. Still, it’s a tough time for people like us. Hang in there. God has his reasons, we just don’t know what they are yet!
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and the poem. I appreciate all of your thoughts. I hope the other ladies who have come here have been encouraged as well.
Thank you for sharing your story. Mother’s Day has been a struggle for me. We had tried for 9 years to conceive and then were surprised when I got pregant. At the beginning of the second trimester we lost our baby. And have not been able to get pregnant again.
This year I have decided to do something different and my sweet husband has agreed to help me. Our Church recognizes all women on mother’s day and gives each a flower. This year I will actually go to Church (I usualy skip it) and then I will take my flower and leave it at the memorial place where they bury lost babies (miscarried etc).I want to celebrate Joylynn Elizabeth this year… I am a Mommy who has a beautiful baby waiting in Heaven and that is to be celebrated.
Thanks for giving me a place to share.
Hugs to you too and kudos on the courage to graciously address this issue. We’ve been married 10 years and do not have children and I am just starting to accept that we may never. Like you, church on MD has become increasingly hard, so this year I decided to join some friends in the Race for the Cure in our town. Doing something different, and not feeling obligated to make it a special day for everyone else, helped greatly (I honored my mom in a different way this year). Also, I’ve come to realize there will always be some club I don’t belong to but there are others who don’t belong to “clubs” (i.e. the never-been-married club, etc.) and so I try not to take what happens on MD so personally, although it still hurts.
Anyways, blessings to you and I enjoyed your beautiful blog!
s a smith
I never knew that there existed other people who feel like I do.
I had 3 miscarriages. While I am grateful that my children will never have to suffer in this life like I have, I am many times sad. I am especially sad on mother’s day and at the thought that I will not get a mother’s day gift like others. Not that a gift means that much, its just the thought behind it. I try to focus on being happy & thankful for my own mother and grandmother on mother’s day. However, it is still kinda painful.
Then there are some days that I rejoice and shout because I don’t have kids because I don’t have alot of the issues alot of parents go through. I try to focus on this rejoicing because it makes me feel a little better. The bible teaches us to rejoice in whatever situation we find ourselves in, so therefore, I try to rejoice. Alot of times, it works. There are times it does not work and I find myself depressed when I think about not having my own little one. But what can one do, right!