Now, wonder of wonders, another respite in the grief, as for the last two years we have enjoyed the life of our son-after-loss without adding to our children in Heaven. But at the same time, I am acutely aware of friends for whom this day is so difficult, and it makes me hesitant to fully embrace it. Survivor's guilt, maybe? It is hard for me to enjoy something that I want others to have as well. And I still am painfully aware of the gap between my living children, and the souls who would have, could have, filled our home and our hearts.
And yet...Mother's Day is here and for the first time in a while, I find myself cautiously welcoming her and not wishing her away as I have in the past. When I think about what has made the difference, these things come to mind.
I've embraced her history. Did you know that Mother's Day was begun by Anna Jarvis, an unmarried woman without children? A woman whose mother had recently passed away? Whose mother was herself a bereaved parent, with only four of her children surviving to adulthood? It was a day begun to honor the relationship between a mother and her children by a woman who had neither mother nor children with whom to celebrate. The unselfish love behind that act is not lost on me, and inspires me to do likewise.
I've embraced my identity. I will always be a mother. Death cannot steal that from me. If every one of my children had died in my womb, I would still be a mother. Though it may not be obvious to the world, if the only children you have are in Heaven, you are still a mother, and this day recognizes that relationship you have with your children. More than a mother, I am a woman. And women who have no biological children can still have a life-giving influence on a younger generation, whether through adoption, teaching, mentoring, or loving on others. More than a woman, I am a child of God. When Mother's Day seems to honor something out of my control, I remember that my identity and worth are not defined by the world, but by the Son of God dying on a cross for me. This day does not define me. God does.
I've embraced my community. Not the community in which I live, but my "tribe", those around me for whom Mother's Day is also difficult. Not only in the babyloss world, but those touched by any grief because of loss or a strained relationship. Because of my journey, I am more acutely aware of this that the average person, and so I can reach out with a hug or a card or a flower for those who may otherwise go unnoticed. I can be a voice for them, and I can also turn to them when I need an understanding smile or hug. They know. I know. We get it.
I've embraced my journey. Once upon a time, I had a plan for my life. Then I encountered a detour, and a road bump, and a fork in the road, and another detour, and one day when I looked back on the road I had traveled it looked barren and unfamiliar, nothing like the plan I had made for my life. And, of course, it wasn't, because my plan never was real, except in my own mind. It is God's plan, for good and not for harm (Jer. 29:11), that has unfolded over time. As I have learned to trust him, and chosen to believe in his goodness regardless of my circumstances, I have found peace with what he has given me and with what he has not. I am not always content or happy with it, and there are days when I want to fight it with everything in me, but overall, the peace has settled on my heart.
I don't think I will ever be completely comfortable with Mother's Day. But having a new perspective on her history, my identity, my community, and my journey makes it easier to tolerate her yearly visit and even to gingerly welcome her in. If Mother's Day is a tender point for you this year, I would love the privilege of praying with and for you. May you know God's peace this day, this year.