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I was lying on the ultrasound table with a towel over my pregnant belly. As the ultrasound tech left the room, she left a bitter taste in my mouth with her bright, “Happy Mother’s Day!” It felt less happy and more ironic, given the reasons we were at the specialist’s office in the first place, to look at my daughter’s imperfect heart. The slight clenching I felt inside was all too familiar: during the long, dark night of infertility, I also cringed at the cheerful gush of “Happy Mother’s Day!” as the holiday rolled around again. Back then, I would actually get angry at all the Hallmark hoopla that seemed to mock me from every sappy commercial or store display. Even after I did have children, I still held a grudge against Mother’s Day and the sappy sentimentality that pushed my childless friends into hiding.

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So, on that exam table, if I could’ve morphed into a green cartoon character, I would’ve gladly become the Grinch Who Stole Mother’s Day. But after my appointment, I happened to read Romans 12:15 (ESV): “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”  I realized that BOTH halves of that verse are important, and that my disdain for Mother’s Day was completely ignoring the first half of the verse. This year I am in that odd place between joy and fear as I prepare to meet a precious baby girl with physical issues sure to challenge our little family.

So this year, I will be celebrating Mother’s Day by identifying with the elation of some, and lamenting over the difficulties of the day with others.

I will offer a cheery, heart-felt “Happy Mother’s Day!” to

  1. The woman who is blessed (as I am!) to have a wonderful mother or grandmother or children with whom to celebrate the day.
  2. The elated (and overwhelmed) mama who is snuggling a long-awaited child for the first time this Mother’s Day.
  3. The tired mother who struggles with the daily drain and mess of preschoolers who are ever-present and ever-needy. She needs to be reminded that her efforts are worthy of celebration and praise!
  4. The mom who has raised her children, learned her lessons, and is joyfully sharing her gifts with younger moms.
  5. The many teachers, childcare workers, aunts, etc. who mother the children in their care so well and so lovingly.

I will offer a hug with a warm and quiet, “Happy Mother’s Day” to

  1. The mother who has miscarried, had a misplaced adoption, or experienced the death of a child and doesn’t know whether to stand or sit in church when mothers are recognized.
  2. The mother-in-waiting who is longing for marriage and/or children, wondering when it will be her turn and why the journey seems so easy for others.
  3. The woman who stands in the card aisle for 30 minutes because she can’t find a card that respects that difficult relationship she has with her mother, or the daughter who walks briskly past the cards because she’s holding back the pain of no longer having a mother.
  4. The mother who is pained by the destructive choices her child is making and wondering if her parenting is worth celebrating.
  5. The mama who is grieved because she chose to abort her child or in some other way allowed her own pain to spill consequences over into her child’s life.

Sometimes, these Mother’s Day greetings can be even more complicated by that fact that many women fall into more than one of these categories. The emotions of the day can leave us raw and unsettled. Motherhood (and the journey to and through it) is a winding road with an ever-changing terrain. There is almost always a mingling of the bitter with the sweet. So this Mother’s Day, say an appropriate “Happy Mother’s Day” to those you care about, and if you have the blessing of having it said to you this Sunday, receive it well, knowing that you are not alone in either your pain or in your joy.

From me to you, “Happy Mother’s Day,” with love, Sara (honorary resident of Whoville)

Follow me on Twitter: @paper_fences

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