When Mother’s Day Just Isn’t Happy

Sunday is a special day for many women — a day full of warmth and joy.  But for other women it’s a reminder of loss, estrangement, disappointment or pain.

And it’s often hard to admit in the midst of all the flowers and cards.

Read more about my story and the story of man others here.



Anticipating Mother’s Day…but Not This One



Anticipating Mother’s Day can produce differing reactions in the hearts of women.

  • The infertile woman faces yet another year with no baby. Watching mothers receive refrigerator-bound drawings with cute stick figures with arms coming out of heads or hearing what the hubs did to honor her friends for being such a great mom reminds her that her arms remain empty. She’s still waiting for someone to make this day special for her, too.
  • The mom who battles guilt over never being “enough” for her kids finds it hard to accept their childlike appreciation. “If they only knew how often I look forward to the empty nest,” she chides herself. “They deserve a much better mom.”
  • The sorrowful mom who crawls into bed each Mother’s Day night battling disappointment over the seemingly dutiful — rather than heartfelt — thanks she received from kids who were prompted by their dad or spouse or older siblings to do something. 
  • The mom whose husband starts planning Mother’s Day far in advance; delivers breakfast in bed with giddy toddlers; saved to purchase a special gift she admired months ago while they were at the mall; and made reservations at her favorite dinner restaurant…with a table by the window.
  • The mom whose kids are away or she aches over an estranged relationship with them is reminded of how much she misses the years when they were all underfoot and smothered her with sticky kisses…and thought she was one great mom.
  • And then there’s the mom who planned the day herself because her husband or ex-husband or kids never think to. She’s grateful to have the day with those she loves, but avoids facebook because she can’t bear to see how other moms were doted on for the day.

What are you hoping will happen or not happen on Mother’s Day?

You see, no amount of gratitude or gifts will be enough. Why? Because the sacrifices of motherhood are just too many. Who can adequately thank someone for giving up your life, your body, your time, your career advancement, your sleep, your food and your very self for little ones who took your breath away when you held them for the first time and have required all your attention since? Kept you awake at night feeding…then worrying…then praying night after restless night? Made you realize you were made “for this” — which helped you persevere through all kinds of tough stuff because they needed you? Rushed into your heart and life — and, before you knew it, left you with an eerily quiet house.

Homemade cards and sticky kisses are treasures. Teen gratitude expressed in any form is heartwarming. Young adult thanks, educated by their own parenting sacrifices, are…well…really special.

But there’s only One who knows and sees all. He paid the ultimate sacrifice of His very life to empower us to give of ourselves till it hurts, and then keep giving.

No matter which category you relate to most above, please hear this: Your life is making a difference. Whether you are single or married, have one child or many, will be doted on this weekend or virtually overlooked, God knows and cares. He is watching and He is pleased. Yes, we are flawed. Yes, we fail and make mistakes. Yes, we get tired and want to give up. But we don’t. We keep wiping. Soothing. Rocking. Training. Reminding. Congratulating. Disciplining. Feeding. Clothing.

And then they grow up and the sacrifices continue into a new generation that takes our breath away all over again.

We are Mom. Momma. Mother. Mommy. But we are also daughter to a Father whose favor is ours even when we mess up, fail or sin against our kids. Because of the cross, we who know Him are the recipients of His love, strength and grace on our good and bad mothering days. Only He truly recognizes and values what we do day in and day out, year after wonderful, wearisome year. And there will be a Day when He says, “Well done.”

What a Mother’s Day that will be!

They Call me Mom

Still goofy.
From L to R: Jake, Josh, Me, Jaime, Janelle, Julia, Joey; Jesse (in front)

Last week’s Mother’s Day happening couldn’t include all of my people because a few were out of town. So we delayed our celebration until yesterday. Our loud and crazy group descended on Josh and Rachel’s home where we had lunch, watched sports and played in the pool. (You can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you would like.)

I love it when all of of are together. I often think about women my age who don’t have all their children and grandchildren nearby. Honestly, sometimes I feel guilty. In a store recently I was chatting with an older woman like myself and the conversation turned to family. Grinning, she told me about a daughter in the midwest who just had her second baby and asked if I had grandchildren.  When I mentioned I had eleven, she responded in typical fashion.

Take Two…or was it three?

“Eleven??? That’s amazing!  How many children do you have?”

I love those divine invitations to speak of God’s faithfulness. I explained that I was never supposed to have children, but that God gave me 7 miracle babies — the last being adopted. I can’t count the number of times God has used the heartache of my infertility and His power to heal as a way to communicate the gospel.

Our departure from the grocery store brought the familiar temptation to guilt. Why do I get the privilege of having all my people nearby when others don’t?

Then I remembered someone warning Benny and me years ago not to “apologize for God’s will.” He wisely discerned that we were nervously concerned about the affects on others of a decision we needed to make. He shared that while sensitivity was appropriate, we didn’t need to give in to the temptation to tip toe in conversations about our decision. It was the first time I had considered how often I did “apologize” for God.

Josh, please…just one good pic!

I don’t know how long all my children and grandchildren will live nearby. Once they start their own families Benny and I are intentional in doing all we can to encourage them to “leave and cleave.”  This could certainly mean watching the Lord move them to other cities to pursue God’s will for their lives.

And I don’t want them to apologize for Him.

For now, it’s God’s will for my 7 children and 11 grandchildren to live within minutes of each other. My children are all taller than me. Five are married and multiplying. The first to leave for college is moving in just months when we gather up his belonging to head up I-75 to Gainesville where he will attend the University of Florida law school. Julia’s high school graduation is in 2 weeks.

But they are still my children. My gifts from God. My regular reminders that God heals and answers prayer. The sources of both my greatest joy and my temptations to worry. The former babies and toddlers who I knew would grow up too quickly, yet I could find no way to stop it. The ones who show up on Sunday mornings (along with others) at our new little church to help lug chairs, play instruments, do children’s ministry, train their own toddlers to be still during worship, and greet guests. The godly men and women who are now among my closest friends.

These amazing people are the fulfillment of God’s promise to “make the barren woman live in her house as the joyful mother of children” (Ps 113:9).

I love them. They still make me laugh and drive me to my knees to pray. Even though they’ve given me the most adorable little people ever, their hugs remain the ones that warm my heart the most. Their opinions of me matter more than anyone’s on this earth. After Mother’s Day or birthdays, I take their cards into my bedroom and set them nearby for weeks to read and read again. I watch them from across rooms or gyms or ball fields and still wonder how I got to be the mom of someone so amazing.

Oh, how I love being Granma.

There they are…my Big People. Love them so!

But there’s a deep and protected and cherished place in my heart reserved for those who call me Mom. And as long as I can drop by Josh’s office to grab one of my boys for lunch; respond to Janelle’s spontaneous request to have me take her to lunch; meet  Jaime to run errands with the kids; or take Julia to Michael’s to get art supplies I will cherish every moment of having them nearby.