Today, Mother’s Day 2017, I went to lunch with some people from church. I was the only non-mom female adult in the group.
It was wonderful catching up and spending time with this group of people. When the end of the meal came, the other women at the table received a free piece of cheesecake.
I did not.
Now, I was planning on spending my dessert calories elsewhere in the day (as I had a free coupon for a sundae that I was looking forward to). While the cheesecake looked delicious, I wasn’t as disappointed that I wasn’t eating cheesecake as much as what that cheesecake represented.
That dessert represented the haves and the have nots when it comes to family structures.
I continue to claim the status of somewhere between childhood and childfree. Most days, I am content with not having children, I suppose. While 360 days of the year I’m fine (or have, at least, convinced myself I am fine) not having children, certain holidays roll around each year, reminding me of what I don’t have.
For instance, there’s Christmas morning in which I don’t have children waking me up, excited about getting presents. Then there’s Easter Day, when families all sit together with children beaming from the Easter Bunny excitement.
And it feels like a knife cuts into my soul.
I was already having a rough day due to what Mother’s Day means to me: a day representing dreams that didn’t happen. Each year, I never expect it to impact me as it does until the day rolls around and I’m dealing with aches in my heart every time I see photos of friends with their children, knowing that isn’t the same path my life took.
There’s the primary source of sadness and grief: not having children. But when a piece of cake comes out for all of the other women at your table, you realize that your path is so very different from the path of your sisters, and grieve a secondary loss of being looked over by society.
And that’s why I encourage churches to take an inclusive approach to this holiday by praying for all women on Mother’s Day – the ones with children and the ones who face childlessness. We pray for the ones beaming with joy and the ones who would rather not come to church on this Sunday.
Many women refused to go to churches on Mother’s Day because of the glorification mothers receive. At the church I serve, we recognize that Mother’s Day is about being a mother and being part of the process of mothering. All women (and all people) fit into the latter category as it really does take a village to raise children.
I’m pleased to be one of many pastors who is bringing a new inclusive way of recognizing Mother’s Day to churches.
I just wish restaurants would catch up…