*My youngest sister, Shelby & her daughter, Giovanna
People will always be offended. Uncomfortable. Sad. Upset. But the world can’t stop celebrating wonderful things just because wonderful things don’t happen to everyone, or that the wonderful things make someone uncomfortable.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. As usual, the pastor asked all the mothers to stand — something I see as a nice gesture to acknowledge women doing the world’s most important job — raising humans. I look forward to the day when I get to stand on Mother’s Day.
On Veterans Day, veterans are often asked to stand, and on Father’s Day, the same. There’s a reason we have these days and what’s the point in having them if we don’t publicly acknowledge them? I happened upon an article, “An Open Letter to Pastors (a Non-Mom Speaks).” As a non-Mom, I was curious what this woman had to say about Mother’s Day.
The writer explains how badly it makes non-moms feel when they have to stay seated. She, of course, doesn’t mean just any non-Moms — but those who are older, want kids & can’t have them, those who’ve had miscarriages, children who’ve passed away or other troubling situations. She writes:
“A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.”
It’s sad that a woman would feel “dehumanized, gutted as a woman” when others get to experience a moment’s worth of recognition for being Moms. The writer is defining “real women” as mothers — that’s not the definition of the pastor, the church or the mothers who are standing.
I certainly didn’t feel like an “empty shell” when I sat and applauded the mothers at church yesterday. Yes, I want to be a mom but life has far more to it than a desire for motherhood gone unfulfilled. Why I’m not a mother yet is a post for another day but I’ll go there later.
We shouldn’t rob mothers of this recognition simply because it hurts the feelings of non-mothers. Mother’s Day isn’t just hard for women who can’t have kids — or who have lost kids — it’s hard for anyone that’s lost their mother as well. Should we simply avoid mentioning Moms on Mother’s Day so we don’t make anyone who doesn’t have a Mom feel sad?
I know how it feels to be a little bitter about all of this. The writer doesn’t come across as bitter in her post but I can sense it — because I’ve felt it. I’m a non-Mom who has wanted to be a Mom for a long time (I know I’ve only been married a year but trust me, I’ve wanted to be a mom for far longer than that — and watched as my little sisters and all of my friends have had lots of babies.)
I’ve been bitter when I think about how easily some people get pregnant without even having to think about it, as well. But you have to separate your feelings and delight in the joys of others. Even when I had bitterness about the babies in the past, I set it aside 100% and authentically rejoice in the new lives my friends and sisters have brought into the world.
The truth is — it’s not about you. So don’t make it about you.
A very Happy, belated, Mother’s Day to all the Moms in my life — most especially Michelle, Tiffany and Heather — my friends who celebrated their very first Mother’s Days yesterday.