My stomach began to tighten the day the calendar turned from April to May. Faces of friends, looming situations and broken dreams began to subtly wrapped their tentacles around the upcoming holiday we call Mother’s Day.
For some women I know, a rose at church or a trite Mother’s Day greeting are salt to an open wound. For others, the absence of these gestures grate on the soul like sandpaper.
I spent hours on the phone the other evening with a mother deeply grieving the loss of her only child who died six months ago. Words failed me. I know three other women who have shared the same painful loss this past year. Mother’s Day will never be happy for them again. It’s also a difficult day for those who have lost their mother, either by death or to the slow spiral of deterioration of Alzheimer’s.
Other women sit waiting in the lonely cell of barrenness – hoping for a miracle. They dread the fact another empty-armed Mother’s Day will come and go for them. Still others are waiting to hear from their prodigal son or daughter lost to the evil clutches of addiction. There are no words for them either. How can we comfort someone in such silent pain. How can we make Mother’s Day a happy day for them?
My heart aches for the hurting and grasps for words that soothe. Words that comfort and ease the guilt of a society that broad brushes our holidays with trite slogans and endless adds. It’s not our fault that commercialism leads us by the nose to the card counter, the flower shop and simplistic quotes. But it is our fault when we don’t bother to consider the unique lives of individuals in the process.
Mother’s Day doesn’t need to be eliminated in order to alleviate the pain of hurting women. But Mother’s Day can be sensitized by our care for the individual people in our circles.
Our words and actions have power. We can offer solace to the hurting by our understanding.
Celebrate the gift of motherhood with women presently enjoying it. But also look for those who need more than a quote, more than a rose – they might just need you. A hug, a cup of coffee, shared tears and most of all – a listening ear. Let them talk and tell you their stories over and over and over again.
May we be a society that bothers to know each other well and strives to love our neighbors appropriately. May we demonstrate compassion, kindness and care this Mother’s Day. And be a blessing to someone who might find the day difficult.