Mother’s Day was celebrated in a big way where I grew up. As a child, my legs would dangle from the slick wooden pew and I’d gaze at the fetching flower arrangements crowding the floor of our sanctuary. Roses, peonies, and spring blooms sat ready to be awarded to the ladies of my small Southern Baptist church.
Ms. Nita, smartly dressed in a pastel dress and a Sunday-go-to-church hat, always seemed to be in charge of the program. After we sang from the hymnal, the kids were beckoned to retrieve a bundle of roses from a basket and encouraged to hand the blooms to beaming mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. After the hugs ended, Ms. Nita took to the center stage and said, “Would all mothers please stand?”
My mother and grandmother would rise and stand among the females of my community. It was like a battalion of matriarchs. Then, the ceremony of awards began. We’d quickly find out who was the oldest mom, who was the youngest mom, and who was the mom with the most children. This tradition of honoring mothers is still one of my fondest memories of my childhood.
But it wasn’t until I was an adult, sitting in church on Mother’s Day fresh from the heartache of my first miscarriage, that I realized how many women actually had hurting hearts on Mother’s Day.
I sat recollecting my childhood and recalled how at my old church the mother with the most living children was awarded one of the biggest and most beautiful bouquets. The congregation always erupted in applause for this dear soul who had her hands full.
But now, with a babe in Heaven and one in the church nursery, it struck me as an odd banner of honor. I realized that beneath smiles many women silently mourn on Mother’s Day. I instantly thought of my mother-in-law. She has five children. But only three are living. Jesse died at the age of 2 and Lauren at the age of 20. Then I thought of my mother. She has three children. But only two of us are living. A gravestone in the church cemetery only marks one tiny soul, who was stillborn. Then the face of a friend, who wanted nothing more to be a mother, came to mind. Infertility robbed her of becoming a mother and finances prevented her from adopting. She too hurts. It made me realize that these sweet women—and those just like them, were women who also deserved an extra special bouquet.
My grief opened my eyes to the invisible grief that many women bear on Mother’s Day. We often forget these brave women, don’t we?
But we shouldn’t.
Mother’s Day is still one of my favorite days of the year, and should be celebrated with unbridled jubilation, breakfast in bed, and homemade cards.
And I love how, at Ms. Nita’s gentle encouragement, my childhood church collectively gave a big applause to mothers. Mothers should receive a standing ovation.
But we should expand our celebration of Mother’s Day by showering love and support to all mothers—including those who view Mother’s Day as a stark reminder of what doesn’t exist. Each year, in the United States alone, 1 in 160 deliveries end in stillbirth, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, 3,500 babies under the age of 1 die, and 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. Let’s stand in solidarity as individuals and as the church to #HonorAllMoms this Mother’s Day.
How Can we Give that Extra Love and Support?
If you know a woman whose baby died in the womb, a woman who has lost a living child, or a woman battling infertility recognize her this Mother’s Day. Send a text message or a greeting card, make a phone call, envelope her in a hug, or send her flowers. Use the name of her child in your conversation. It brings women comfort when you recognize her little one.
If you are at a loss for words simply write, “Hey, I know this might be a difficult day for you. I just want you to know I’m thinking of you on this Mother’s Day. I love and cherish you.”
How Can Places of Worship Can Honor All Moms?
Offer a discrete but extremely meaningful gesture by lighting a candle or displaying a flower arrangement in honor of all the women whose babies are in heaven and those women who battle infertility.
Perhaps write in the bulletin or announce, “The flowers in the sanctuary are placed in honor of all the moms whose babies are in heaven and all the women whose hearts’ desire is to be a mother. We love you.”
Let’s also set aside the month of May to pray and encourage all sorts of women—those who have a baby to hold in their arms, those who do not; those who wanted to be a mom but never got to be, and those who were placed into that role by circumstance; children who have lost their moms and moms who have lost their children.
I think Ms. Nita would want all these special women to have a beautiful bloom.
“After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.” Christian Dior
In honor of Mother’s Day & the #HonorAllMoms movement I am thrilled to offer you a prayer prompt calendar, created by the amazing Kelly O’Dell Stanley (author of Praying Upside Down, to use the month of May. To download: click on the link below. It will take you to another page with a small picture of the calendar. Click this picture. Then the pdf version will pop-up for you to print!