This Mother’s Day, Remember Your Childless Friends

May 7, 2014

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.images

The day when we all think of the women who gave us life, who nurtured us and raised us.

And plenty of you ladies who are still raising children will be celebrated. Maybe your kids will make you breakfast in bed. Maybe the word “breakfast” will stretch the definition a bit. But it will be served to you in bed.

Maybe your husbands will bring you flowers.

Maybe your gift will be that the family just leaves you alone for the day.

And all of you who go to church on Sunday are sure to be honored. Maybe your pastors will have you stand up and be recognized. Maybe someone will give you a carnation, which is a nice old-fashioned Mother’s Day thing to do.

If you would, please take a moment on Mother’s Day to do just one thing. It’s not very big, and you can get right back to your special day.

Please remember your childless friends.

Not To Bring You Down on Mother’s Day…

The thing about people who are struggling to have children is this:

We don’t want to be killjoys.

We don’t want to be “Debbie Downers.”

Childless people don’t want to project any of their struggle onto you. To do so would be wrong.

We do want to be happy for you. We think your kids are cute. Really, we do.

And we are glad you are happy. And your happiness should not be held hostage to anyone else’s struggle, pain, or unhappiness. C.S. Lewis said that.

So we aren’t asking you to be unhappy or unthankful or not proud of your children out of pity for your childless friends. That’s no good for anyone (not to mention, impossible.) So please don’t get me wrong here. No one is asking for pity and no one is campaigning against celebrating Mother’s Day.

You Know These People, Even If You Don’t Know You Know

You should know though that this Mother’s Day, for all of the moms who stand up in church on the pastor’s cue…

…there is some woman who remains seated and wishes she were standing. She prays to God that she might get to stand up…next year maybe.

There is a couple who will just stay home on Sunday because they cannot restrain their emotions on Mother’s Day. It’s just become too painful.

For every couple whose homes are full of the pitter-patter (or earthquake) of little feet, there is a home that sounds too quiet.

For every mom whose one Mother’s Day wish is to be left alone, there is a woman who feels desperately lonely on Mother’s Day.

For every couple who jokingly complains about their rambunctious kids, another couple silently mourns a miscarriage.

For every couple who wonders how they will pay for their vacation and the kids’ four baseball teams this summer, there is a couple who wonders how many more rounds of infertility treatment they can afford before they have to give up their dreams.

For every graying couple who shows off pictures of their gaggle of grandkids, there is another couple who patiently waits with no promise of grandkids. They wait and wonder and try not to pry too much into their kids’ private lives even though it’s very hard.

You probably know at least one couple like this, even if you don’t know you do.

Take a Moment to Imagine

My wife and I have not had the biggest struggle in trying to have children. It has not been the saddest or the most tragic tale. But it has been over four years now and that is a long time to struggle at something so personal. It’s kind of like surviving in a city that’s under siege. It’s a war of attrition as we work to keep our marriage, our faith, and our sanity.

So on Mother’s Day, there is not really anything you need to say to any of your childless friends.

You don’t need to apologize for having kids or being happy.

But if you would, just say a quick little prayer for your childless friends on Mother’s Day. Just imagine if you did not have your children, and then thank God for them and pray for your friends who are praying for a little child. Pray that they would have strength to walk this journey that God selected for them.

Tell them you are praying for them. That’s all.

All you moms out there, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

6 responses to This Mother’s Day, Remember Your Childless Friends

  1. Thank you, Matt, for a thoughtful piece on Mother’s Day. I really appreciate that you mention how infertility affects hopeful potential grandparents. This isn’t talked about enough, and it is a huge pile of grief for them, too. I also appreciate your discussion of the struggle of acceptance of this journey. Too often, I feel like infertility is described as a battle, a denial, a war, but rarely do people talk about acceptance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, faith, and heart. You are an encouragement to me.

  2. I’m glad you wrote this. I think so many people are clueless. It wasn’t until a dear friend struggled with infertility that I finally kind of “got it.” The other thing I didn’t know until I had personal experience with it is how hard it is for people who have lost their mothers on this day. I used to do our weekly church bulletin, and I thought about that when I did it, but at the time I still had my mom and I thought, “oh, it’s fine. They still have good memories and will be able to relate.” What I didn’t know is how I’d feel a few years later, sitting there reading the heartwarming quotes about moms (in the bulletin I’d passed on to someone else)… how I wanted to scream, “Must be nice! Rub it in! Soooo glad you have a mom and I don’t!” OK, so maybe I’m not a very nice person. Or maybe lots of people feel that way. I don’t think most of us realize what we should be sensitive about on days like Mother’s Day… and so many others. This year I’ll turn my thoughts instead to the couples who so desperately want to be parents and are not.
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  3. I love this piece and KNOW exactly how this feels. I, too, stayed home on Mother’s Day because the celebrations I heartily approve of were so painful. I am now blessed to be a mom and want to mention one other thing related to this. My motherhood comes at the cost of some other mom making the most difficult decision of her life – and the one that influenced my child in more ways than any decision I’ve ever made for her. My daughter’s birthmother decided to place her in my arms and I’m eternally grateful. Those mom’s deserve a huge shout-out!!! And there will be some birthmothers in your congregation that nobody knows about because it isn’t/wasn’t a decision that was openly discussed for generations.
    Hoping your Mother’s Day is blessed!

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