This Mother's Day, remember the hurting mothers.
Remember the ones with a mother's heart and no child to call their own. Remember the ones with aching arms. Remember the ones with the tired eyes from the sleepless nights, lying awake and longing for the little one who captured their momma heart from the instant they met. Remember the ones who never got the "firsts" -- first smiles, first birthdays, first days of school, even first cries. Remember the ones who will never hear "momma" from those little lips.
This life can be unkind, but together, we can make it a little safer place for the hurting mothers on this Mother's Day.
If you have a hurting mother in your life -- whether they be a friend or family, make this day a little easier to bear for them. Remember them. Acknowledge them.
Here are seven ways to love them through this day.
1. If they lost a child, say their child's name. This is the most important thing you can do for them on that day: Say their child's name. Say their nickname. Say anything to let them know you are remembering their child on that day. No matter how uncomfortable it may make you feel, know that they certainly have not forgotten. Let them know you haven't either.
2. If they lost their only child, acknowledge their motherhood. As my sweet friend who lost her (almost) 4-year-old daughter this year put it, "I want people to remember that I'm still a mommy." If they've lost their only child, they are absolutely still a mother, and they always will be, even when their child is no longer in their arms. Please remember that. You have no idea how much even the tiniest acknowledgement can ease the burden on their heart.
3. Even if they have other children, the pain is still very real. No matter how many children they have, it can never take away the pain of missing child or children they lost. Each child is unique, and each child is irreplaceable.
4. Acknowledge their mother's heart. For those who long to be momma, but have faced infertility or things have never quite worked out, please recognize them. Their are women walking around with sons and daughters they didn't birth, but whom they love like their own. Recognize these mommas. Let them know they are appreciated and loved.
5. Let them be whatever they need to be on that day. They might not know what will be most beneficial -- the distraction of company or solitude. Lay down your expectations of them on that day. They aren't "crazy," they are grieving. Have grace. Have understanding. If they want to be a snotty, blubbering mess all day, let them. If they decide it would be easier not to talk about any of it, don't pressure them. Give them freedom to be themselves, and let them know that you will love them, no matter what form they come in.
6. Don't make assumptions. If you assume they would not like to be included in some kind of gathering, let them decide. Just reach out to them. Love them. Invite them. Welcome them, and let them make the choice on what they can handle. If they choose not to come, don't take it personally, but know they are only trying to survive a difficult day.
7. Love them. Maybe if you live far away, send them a note and five dollars for a pick-me-up coffee or ice cream. If you are nearby, ask them how you can best love them on that day. Maybe they want to attend a family gathering, make sure they know they are welcome. Maybe they want to get out of the house, invite them to dinner. Maybe they want to binge watch Netflix in sweatpants and eat ice cream for dinner, offer to bring wine and popcorn too. Be a friend to them, and remind them that they are loved.
Remember these hurting mothers. With your kindness, love, and grace, they can brave the hardest of days. Let them know you care.