Tomorrow it is ‘Mother’s Day’ in Australia. This day of celebration for so many is also a painful reminder to many others of their loss and the grief they are experiencing. The loss of their own mother, the loss of a child, the loss of their dream of ever becoming a mother, the loss of their identity as a mother etc.
My first born, a daughter, was born three weeks before my mother died. We had tried for 10 painful years to have children, had investigated many alternatives and finally became pregnant. My mother told me she had prayed for me every single day for over ten years for me to become pregnant. Thus, when I was finally carrying a child, it was meant to be a huge time of celebration. Unfortunately it was mingled with grief and depression as there were twins and one twin was struggling immensely to stay alive. This twin eventually lost their battle and died in the womb. The other twin, our precious daughter, made it to full term.
When I was nearly 5 months pregnant, my mum was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and given 6 weeks to live. This was a hugely emotional time for the whole family. Mum was a fighter and was determined to see my child after she was born. We told mum that we were having a girl and her name, as we honestly didn’t believe mum would still be alive to see her. But mum lasted until Princess was born, made the trip over from Tasmania and stayed with us for those first 3 weeks and then returned to Tasmania with my dad. I had no idea just how sick she was when I waved her off. The very next day she was admitted to hospital, we made an urgent flight over to be with her and a few days later she was dead.
Those first few months of having a newborn were filled with so many mixed emotions. Princess had huge food allergies. I was learning to adjust my lifestyle to having a new born. I struggled to cope without my mum whom I suddenly had all these questions for. Life was hard.
In all those years of trying to get pregnant, Mother’s Day had been painful. Society, and in particular the church, doesn’t seem to understand what women go through who are not yet mothers. The irony was, that after becoming a physical mother, Mother’s Day was still extremely painful as I no longer had my mum alive and the grief was still very raw. Unless you have experienced it yourself, please do not try to pretend that you understand. Offering meaningless phrases just doesn’t cut it. Rationalising it off as celebrating those who are spiritual mothers in the church still doesn’t help.
A couple of years after Princess was born, I happened across 2 books – “Motherless Daughters” and “Motherless Mothers” both by Hope Edelman. These books were amazing and I highly recommend them to anyone fitting any of those descriptions. Hope Edelman was someone who seemed to completely understand everything I had gone through and was going through. She gave credibility to those thoughts and feelings I had and was experiencing. She reveals with astounding accuracy the unique anxieties and desires of raising children without the help of a maternal guide. I sobbed my way through those books as they seemed to resonate so accurately with what I had gone through and finally someone seemed to understand. She put into words my feelings and grief that I was experiencing with my own mother-loss. I even sent them to my sister as Hope Edelman had so accurately described what I was feeling and experiencing that I wanted to help those around me whom I knew were experiencing similar things.
Princess has just turned 13. I still miss mum and would love to ask her many questions, but mainly just sit with her and enjoy being with her and my children and seeing her enjoyment and delight of being with my kids. Mum was someone who truly loved kids and being with them.
For anyone who has journeyed a similar path, I encourage you to read those books. To put words to what you are experiencing. I encourage you to also go after God and let Him be your strength and source of comfort. Ask God to provide that which you need most at the moment. Open yourself up to Him and look to Him for those needs to be fulfilled.
To all those who are not yet in the place of experiencing mother-loss or struggling in becoming a mother, please be kind to everyone on Mother’s Day. You have no idea of what is truly going on in their inner life and the struggles they are experiencing and how some meaningless phrase can cut deep.
The last few years our family has brainstormed whom we can help at this time of year, someone who is struggling with becoming pregnant, or not even married but would love to, or having had their mother die or a child die. This has enabled us to turn our focus outward and help someone else in their journey. I encourage you and your family to look at doing something like this too.