the Darker Side of Mother’s Day

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The dark side of Mothers Day

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I was halfway through venting to a girlfriend today about my exhausting schedule of Mother’s Day parties for my boys, home-school testing for my daughter, coaching track, and the birth of yet another litter of pet bunnies…when I stopped dead in my tracks. I actually heard myself. My friend, who deeply desires a baby of her own, was nothing but supportive and encouraging to my rants, but I had forgotten. I had forgotten that particular Mother’s Day nine years ago when I woke up feeling hollow because…just days before there had been life in my womb. Even though I had already been blessed with a daughter, it was the loss of this unborn child which defined my holiday.

As mothers were celebrated all around the world, my heart ached in a place that was lonely…longing to hold that baby just once. Mother’s Day felt so…in-my-face. I lost two more babies before being blessed with my sons. That broken place in the depths of my soul never returned to the normalcy I had previously known. I was changed, less naive, and different. You see, there is a piece of me that is forever bruised. It is the tender place from which tears can come without notice…that place that allows me to cry with a woman I don’t know because I understand her longing for a baby of her own.

I looked back into the eyes of my friend and apologized for forgetting the blessing behind my hectic schedule. Her eyes filled with tears and then so did mine. We held each other with that understanding of loss and longing. So today my heart remembers that, although I will be uplifted in celebration on Sunday, there is a darker side to Mother’s Day, one which often gets overlooked, and behind it is a woman who needs a hug.


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53 thoughts on “the Darker Side of Mother’s Day

  1. Yes thank you for saying this Allison. Once you have lost a child, once you have lost a mother, Mothers Day becomes a very different space, one in which I like being mostly alone.

  2. Thank you! It is so easy to forget the longing. I too have lost two babies, and even though I have 3 here with me I still mourn for those. I know Mother’s Day must be so hard on so many who don’t have a baby to hold, or who have one, but should have had more.

  3. Please consider, too, those who have LOST their mothers… how THEY feel.

    EVERY day is Mothers Day, whether you are a mother or a child or both. Just like every day si Earth Day (are we going anywhere else?)

    Love, be loved, give, as whatever you are, to whoever you are called. Don’t let a holiday conjured up as a way to get us to consume more than we need or want materially blind us to the real thing… which is daily.

    • I LOVE what you said and agree wholeheartedly. Mother’s Day; Father’s Day, etc. is truly the daily, sacred mundane. It’s not one day out of the year, but every day that influences my husband and son. Thanks for the perspective.

  4. I know every Mothers Day that week before I start tearing up and as it gets closer the tears keep coming. My Mother and I were like sister and we did so much together. You never stop missing them.

  5. Another place to be more thoughtful and considerate……There are many things that cause mothers hearts to ache on this day. In my case it is that of an estranged child. An adult who has children of her own but has barely spoken to me in many many years. I dont know why. It is just this way until she is ready to change it. I have done all I can. I have seen this happen many times to mothers of adult children. It is heart breaking and a loss of a child that is still living.

    • So true Margaret.I had not thought of an estranged child and the heartache that would be on a mother. Thank you for increasing my sensitivity through your experience. Hope you are able to reconcile my friend

  6. I’ve never lost a child. My “mother”, the one who gave birth to me, the one who I lived with while I was growing up, was never a mommy to me. Never nurtured me, told me she loved me. Didn’t play with me. Didn’t create a bond between us. It was known I was an accidental pregnancy. So although she lives and breathes air. Mothers day to me, is a dark day because of the pain I feel for that nurture I never got. Lots of views on mothers day.

    • so sorry Janice you certainly deserved better. sounds like a case of ‘good kid, bad mom’. May you find ways to give yourself what you need and thoroughly celebrate it! Your voice and message is so important as it represents the sad reality for more children than we care to admit to. Perhaps hearing from you will help a few of us pay more attention and give a bit extra where there seems to be a drought on the mother-side. thanks for sharing.

    • Janice, my heart is so sad reading that you never had a mommy to love on you growing up. I hope somebody was placed in your life to fill the void left by her. I pray God’s hand was upon you in the form of comfort and protection. You must be a strong woman to have overcome such pain. Praying for your continued healing.

  7. Thank you for reminding me of what a sad day it is for those that long to be mothers. I lost 2 before being blessed with my daughters….I have a mother that loves me and nurtures me.

  8. Thank-you this is so true…it can also be very hurtful when people make comments like oh you don’t want children? and such. They have no clue!

  9. I don’t think anyone can truly understand the pain, the outright sorrow of losing a pregnancy – losing that LIFE within you – accept for another woman who has been through it herself. Yes, I have children and I love them beyond knowing. But what of the four babies I lost? They are just as much my own, my children and my heart as those who are living. And yet no one can understand why my entire being suddenly clenches when I see tiny baby shoes, when a day goes by that was supposed to have been a due date, or, saddest of all, reliving the memories of burying a little wooden box with my child inside under a blossoming tree. Mothers give so much; sometimes irrevocably. And you’re right – that loss leaves a place that is forever bruised. Thank you for your words.

  10. Thank you for your post. My husband and I have been trying for a baby for 4 years, so I feel the void. But it is helpful when mothers remember that sisters & aunties feel sadness in the midst of celebrating them.

  11. Thank you! Thank you ! That post was so wonderful. Nobody can really understand how it feels to deal with infertility. I have dealt with it for 16 years. You try so hard to be thankful for all the other moms but secretly inside you wish somebody would just do what you did, stop and you give a hug. Thanks to a miracle of God I can now say that my husband and I are going to adopt our beautiful boy that we have been fostering for 2 years this Friday!!!!! So to all of you who have a void in your heart because of infertility please don’t give up on your dream to become a mom. Just know that when God closes one door He always opens another!! Keep your heart open to the possibilties of seeing your children one day!!

    • Precious Stephanie, your story just brought tears to my eyes as I read it aloud to my husband. I am SO filled with joy to her about the adoption of your SON!!! I have so many questions i wish i could ask, like his name. Your story is an encouragement to many as we can now see God’s hand orchestrating the union between you and your son. Blessings to you. Will be thinking of you this Friday!

      • His name is now Calen James.Our adoption is complete! What was a wonderful experience that felt as if I gave birth to him. God has been very good to us!! What i think is pretty amazing is that we have been foster parents for 3 yrs. Before Calen came into our life I wanted to stop being a foster parent and basically accepted that I would just be the best aunt that I could be and then the call came for a newborn baby boy. When the placement person put him in my arms I knew this baby was different. He didn’t feel like a foster child if you can understand what I mean. All children are precious ,but as foster parents you always know that this child is not your own. But boy did God have other plans for this one!!!. Thanks for your kind words.
        Today was a very special day that I will cherish for the rest of my life! All I can say is Thank You Jesus for answered prayer!!!!!!

  12. My mother passed away on Mother’s Day but because of her illness it truly was a blessing. After 5 years of infertility and the loss of one baby I was blessed with my daughter…..ON MOTHER’S DAY!!! I just know my mom had something to do with it!

  13. Pregnancy and child loss is so rarely spoken about. So thank you. I had 4 pregnancies, 3 miscarriages and 1 still birth at 34 weeks, before I was blessed with a beautiful sunshine daughter who is now 3 years old. For years Mother’s Day was a terrible day for me, because I was a mother with no child. And still Mother’s Day is a mix of joy and sorrow.

  14. Our daughter was born 26 years ago in April, it did help to have a 1 month old child to hold on Mother’s Day. I had a failed pregnancy one the year before. This year I lost my Mother on Mother’s Day, but it was appropriate I had lost my Dad on Father’s Day weekend 20 years ago. I’m not sad about losing Mom or Dad on those days, because I know they are with our Father in Heaven and I will see them again.

  15. After 10 years of infertility, we were blessed with our son (who is now 9); I’ve had many wonderful Mother’s Day’s…but I well remember the pain of those Mother’s Days when I longed to be able to stand at church along with all the other Mother’s instead of crying through the mass and most times having to leave early barely able to hold back the tears. Thanks for bringing attention to this.

  16. Thank you for sharing your heart. My heart breaks for every mother who has ever lost a child, and for all those who yearn to be mothers. What a great reminder to look outside ourselves and see the pain of those around us.

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  18. So wise for us to remember the complicated feelings associated w/mother’s day. I’ve known it first as a motherless daughter, then walking beside those with fertility issues, and finally as a mom who lost my son. Thank you for putting this out there, friend! XOXO

    • Yes Anna, I’ll never forget reading part of your story for the first time on your blog. It is forever embedded on my heart. Your tragic experience and persevering faith through loss has really effected my life. We need to connect soon?

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  20. Thank you so much for this, and for your blog! Even though I miscarried after only a few weeks, the knowledge of what-could-have-been paired with the quite literal feeling of loss inside me made it very difficult for me to even look at other babies….and my sister gave birth to the family’s first grandchild not long after. For the first year or so I kept hearing, “You won’t understand because you’re not a mother” every time I disagreed with something, until I finally blurted out (to my own mother), “You’re right! I don’t! I don’t know because MY baby died inside me! Thank you for reminding me CONSTANTLY!”

    I have never heard that phrase again. And in my women’s Bible study, we shared that story because our youth pastor and his wife has miscarried one month before the due date…and the stories of other miscarriages came pouring out from other women. We realized we’d been slinging unintentional insults at one another (“ugh, being a mother is soooo difficult” “no one understands the rush I’m in because of kids” “I really did not want this pregnancy”) in our church family without even wondering about the children, and the mothers, that would never be. As for my mother and sister, they’ve been amazing and encouraging me as an aunt (a job I LOVE!) and constantly pray that God will answer my pleas for a husband and children.

    Thank you again for sharing your life and family with us! 🙂

  21. Great article about realizing that someones busy schedule is something we loss mums and women with fertility issues, would give our right arm for. Mothers day can be a great day or a very sad one.

    • Julie, that is exactly why I remember this story every year. In the busyness of my days, I unintentionally get distracted and forget. I often wonder how things would be different we all treated one another with such gentle consideration. Thanks for commenting.

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  23. What a beautiful post! It’s amazing how we get caught up sometimes in our worlds without thinking about how others may be feeling. Good for you for catching yourself and realizing your friend’s feelings in the matter. 🙂 Great friend moment! 😀

  24. Absolutely beautiful. As a mother of 2 grown children and who has now lost 3 babies in the past 3 years, I know that ache will never dull. May our babies find comfort in each other.

  25. Hey Allison,
    I don’t know if you remember me but I emailed you in February about starting my own blog. I have started it and it is going really well and I’m truly enjoying it. I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for this post. My husband and I have been trying for almost 10 months to conceive another child, in March, just 2 weeks before Mother’s Day this year I miscarried, and it was encouraging to be reminded that there are others out there who have experienced this and then have had more children. Sometimes if can feel like this is all our story will be, struggling to get pregnant, but it’s a good reminder that it won’t always be this way. One day we’ll have more children and look back on this “bruised” time like you said; and that’s what it’ll be, just a “time”, just a season. I wrote about my struggles and how I find peace in the promise of Romans 8:28, if it’s ok I’ll leave the link below in case other woman need encouragement through a similar trail. God bless.

    • Emily, I am so sorry for your loss. You understand that bruise all too well. Cling to your husband and to God.

      I am so excited to read your blog. I will scoot over when the kids are in bed so I can focus and enjoy your getting to know your heart. I am thrilled you are enjoying the process of writing. Please keep in touch and keep me updates.

  26. You Ladies you all made me cry thinking about both my Mom and 16 year old son. I have never had the pleasure of being married and made peace with that, but the thing I wanted most of all was to be a Mother. So 16 years plus ago I decided to stop talking about adopting and do it all on my own. In South Africa the law about single parents adopting changed in 1999, the year I adopted my son. Of all the blessings and miracles God has sent into my life My Son (Ethan) is by far the greatest. It has not been an easy road being a single parent and especially the teenage years have been very turbulent, but I would not change it for a second. Ethan is this strong opinionated young man over 6 foot tall, with a 5 foot tall mother.

  27. What about a said female who is past the childbearing age and doesn’t even know if she was ever capable? After all society assumes all women on the planet are capable of reproducing. Until proven otherwise. I doubt anyone gives that any serious thought.

    • That is an interesting point. The not knowing could be very difficult to process through. Thank you for reminding and encouraging me to be sensitive to those women who just don’t know if their bodies were able.

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