I’ve had an increasing dislike for Mother’s Day since I became a mom myself.
It began with feeling guilty for my friends and loved ones who had wanted a baby, when I had one and they did not.
Then I began to realize how social media posts make it feel like everyone has a great mother–when reality says otherwise. Some people are grieving the loss of their mother, some never had a great mother, some are tired of being mother and father to their children, and many are confronted with their longing for the babies who never came, or who didn’t stay long.
And maybe you have kids, but no one did anything special for you and those sunken expectations smack you in the face when you open the socials:
Jane’s husband helped the kids pick out a special gift–and she was SO excited.
Mary’s family did a fun surprise breakfast/lunch for her, and she was SO blessed.
Rose went with her daughter, mom, and grandmother for a special Girl’s Night Out–she was excited AND blessed.
“Happy Mother’s Day!” they say, though the day is anything but happy.
Most women have an innate desire to nurture and care for others; it comes naturally, we don’t even think about how much time we spend loving people–it just happens.
Then May rolls around and we began to realize, “Hey, I do a lot. I want to be noticed, I want to be appreciated!” The Sunday event comes and goes, you spend the whole day mothering, and nothing special happens. By Monday you’re deflated, disappointed, and painfully
embarrassed when other people ask, “So, what did you get for Mother’s Day? What did your family do for you?”
I’m in several different mom’s groups on Facebook, and this morning someone asked if anyone else felt unnoticed and unappreciated after yesterday. Some had, some hadn’t. I commented, acknowledging her hurt and frustration, and also encouraged her to talk to her significant other about it. Yes, men can be jerks (as can women), but often it’s a lack of understanding their loved one’s expectations.
The majority of my Mother’s Days haven’t been anything spectacular. Now, it wasn’t because my husband (or little kids) didn’t appreciate me and my “motherliness,” it was simply that calendar holidays weren’t a big thing for his family when he was growing up, and it wasn’t on his radar of “things to do for my wife.” Each year we work on better communication, and I’ve learned to notice and appreciate the way he demonstrates affection in his own way–and every year has gotten better in ways I feel appreciated.
Yesterday, I had to be at church early for worship practice and was there before the rest of my family. I saw my husband and kids briefly before the service started, when I moved my purse to the pew they chose to sit in. My three-year-old came over, gave me a hug, and said in his excited-but-hushed voice,
“Mom! We got you flowers and a card! It’s in the van but we’re not s’posed to tell you!”
I honestly wasn’t expecting anything until maybe later, but it was nice to know that my love of pre-planned gifts had been recognized after X number of years–even if I wouldn’t technically be surprised when I finally got to the car.
However, I still dislike the expectation and looming disappointment from calendar holidays, because I know that not all women have healthy family relationships. And that’s really the point of writing all this…
My last post focused on mentorship within the church family. The church is supposed to be a family. God designed the family model, and through it He begins to show us aspects of how He loves and cares for us. God protects us, cherishes us, nurtures us, teaches and disciplines us, and enjoys us. That’s what family is supposed to reflect.
But it often doesn’t, and we see every day the devastating effects from the collapse of the family unit.
Interestingly, we are told to extend/apply this biological family structure to the church family. Treating older women as mothers, older men as fathers, younger ones as brothers and sisters, etc. (1 Timothy 5), interacting as people who love others the way God loves them. Love is an action verb.
So if you are a mother, wanting to be a mother, grieving the loss of a mother (or the lack of relationship), or wherever else you find yourself… you are vital to this family. Whether you’re serving older people or investing in younger ones, you have the unique ability to love people in a way that nurtures and cherishes and helps people experience the love of God.
Even if no one ever says “thank you” on this side of heaven, no good deed goes unnoticed by God. He will reward everything you’ve done, in His time.
Satan will throw Hallmark in your face and tell you that your recognition measures your value. But flowers wilt, cards get tossed, chocolate is short-lived… Noticed or not, we need to keep loving people the way Jesus came to show us. The church needs to be the biggest, craziest, hope-filled, joy-filled, helpful family out there–the kind of family everyone wants to be part of.
Our official rank or recognition is unimportant–what matters is that people are loved. Jesus came to earth, denying the rank and recognition He deserved, but He knew who He was and He knew that only when we’re loved by God can we effectively love others.
This world needs women who love like mothers–mothers who love like Jesus–and because you are part of the best family ever, this dark and broken world needs you.
You are loved by God, you are seen by God, and people need to be seen and loved by you.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35, NIV