I’m going to confess something. And I thought long and hard about whether to publish this post today. Because it’s not the typical “Happy Mother’s Day” post that I’ve seen floating around this week on WordPress, Facebook, Blogspot, and all of the other places where blogs reside online. I tried to write that kind of post, and each time I took a stab at it, it felt fake, concocted, lacking in authenticity, disingenuous, and really, not all that honest.
But there is something on my heart today that needs to be said, and it starts with a confession.
This Mother’s Day, I’m down in the dumps.
Maybe it’s because I turned 40 on Friday, and for the first time in my life, I’m feeling “old.”
Maybe it’s because my middle child is “graduating” from Kindergarten next week, and I’m really sad about that.
Maybe it’s because my husband had to work much of the weekend, I had primary responsibility for the kids, and I’m feeling extra tired today.
Maybe it’s because Little Bit called me “mean” when I gave him a consequence for a poor choice he made this morning. So today, I’ve been confronted, yet again, with the reality that being a mom can be a thankless job.
Maybe it’s because, as typical, on Sundays I function a bit like a single mom, and Mother’s Day is no different. (And on that note, my hat is “off” to any of you who are raising kids without a spouse. My prayers are with you, and I have the utmost respect for what you do every day.)
Maybe it’s because this is the first birthday and Mother’s Day that I’ve spent away from our old church family and my friends of 11+ years, and I’m homesick.
Or maybe it’s because I woke up to this:
And a handful of other things that must be done today.
And I realized that, even on Mother’s Day, the work never stops.
I’m a mom “in the trenches.”
Today, I’m acutely aware of it.
And I feel very much alone.
But when I strolled into church this morning and took my seat on the front row, someone noticed that I wasn’t myself. She noticed because she, too, is “in the trenches,” she’s a pastor’s wife herself, and probably more than most people in my life, she understands me.
She noticed that when our oldest was playing chimes this morning, I was staring through her, completely absent from the moment.
She noticed that when my husband cracked a few jokes from the pulpit during his sermon, I didn’t laugh.
And when she approached me after the service and asked me how I was, she noticed that I was fighting back the tears.
So instead of going to Sunday School like she would normally do during the 9:45 hour, she swept me away to my husband’s office for a cup of coffee and some girl time.
And for the next 60 minutes, we swapped stories about how things are going, what we’re currently struggling with, and the ins and outs of being moms “in the trenches”. And I confessed that I was having a really bad day.
That was the best Mother’s Day present anyone could have given me today.
And I realized that it was the best present because it was given to me by someone who truly understands. Someone who shares my mother’s heart. Someone who’s experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of motherhood. Someone who knows what it feels like not to feel appreciated. And someone who’s experienced days where simply putting one foot in front of the other requires tremendous effort.
It made me realize that, despite the very best of intentions, there are days when no gift, no word, and no gesture offered to me by my children or my husband could validate and affirm my efforts as a mom quite like a gift, a word, or a gesture offered to me by another mom. I think this is particularly true on Mother’s Day because I think my expectations are sometimes too high.
No doubt my children and my husband love and appreciate me.
They just don’t understand me. Not like other mothers do.
So this morning, I realized that I need to look at Mother’s Day from a wholly different perspective.
I need to STOP looking at Mother’s Day as the one day of the year that I have the RIGHT to be honored by my husband and children. I’m called to serve my family, and even on Mother’s Day, I need to approach my role with the heart of a servant. I also need to take note of all the times throughout the year that they do honor me. Because they do. In their own special ways.
I need to STOP trying to use Mother’s Day as a “get out of jail free card” to avoid my responsibilities for my family because life never stops. Even on Mother’s Day. Particularly when the children are so young. As a result, even today, there are things I must tend to. And life will be so much more pleasant for all of us if I tend to them with a happy heart.
I need to STOP expecting my children and my husband to “get it” on Mother’s Day or any other day of the year for that matter. No disrespect intended, but they won’t. And that’s OK. Motherhood is a sisterhood. And it takes one to really know and understand one.
And I need to START looking at Mother’s Day as an opportunity for me to bless other moms who stand with me “in the trenches.” To notice the ones who may be struggling. To give them words of affirmation. To do something nice for them. To hug them, look them in the eyes, and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. And to communicate to them in whatever way I can, that at least in some ways, I understand their journeys.
That’s what Mother’s Day needs to mean for me.
So to my sweet new friend and partner in ministry. Thank you for being my confidant today. Thank you for standing in the trenches of ministry and motherhood with me. Thank you for not judging my honesty. For listening to me. And for sharing openly with me parts of your own journey. You are in my prayers.
And to all of the moms who are reading this post.
Happy Mother’s Day.
From my trench to yours.
May each of you know that the work you do as a mom is eternally significant. On the good, the bad, and even the ugliest of days.
May you look to God, and not to your families, as the source of your inspiration to press on. Daily.
And may you experience the fullness of God’s unconditional love and grace in your life and in your motherhood. Always.