Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mother's Day: Redefined

As I grow older and have more experiences in life, I become aware of different perspectives and can't go back to the way I used to view things. My purpose in writing this blog post is to share with you the empathy I have found for all women on Mother's Day and to help you see the holiday in a new way.

"Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" I said as I climbed the stairs to the kitchen. Mom was in the middle of about five different things in preparation for the day.

"Thanks! Can you please sign these cards for the grandmas? I'm just about done wrapping their gifts. Don't forget, we're going out to eat with the Rislows after church and we'll probably stop by Grandma and Grandpa's in the afternoon."

This was the typical Mother's day exchange between me and my mom. Mother's Day was a day when we'd give flowery cards to mom and the grandmas, and sometimes a small gift too. We'd all dress in our spring pastels to go to church and then out to eat afterward at a local eatery with a Mother's Day brunch.

Mother's Day for me has always been about my mom and to a lesser extent my grandmas. That is, up until recently as we've entered the adoption process and prepared to be parents ourselves.

Once in the last few years, I happened to attend a Mother's Day celebration where each mother was given a corsage. Lavishly, the flowers were pinned on to the mothers as they entered, toting children in with them. These women held little hands and got sticky kisses. I sat there without a flower, without little hands, and I felt very alone. It seemed to me that suddenly there was a special club that I was not able to be part of. The kind gesture to recognize mothers only served to remind me in a very big way of what I did not have.

The craziest thing was that I had not expected this. Never before on Mother's Day had I even thought - not even for a minute - that I am not a mom. I don't know why it hit that particular year, but it was hard. It was a feeling that I felt for a long time afterward; one that gave me much to ponder.

In processing this experience, I was reminded of a church we used to attend. Each Mother's Day, they would hand out small gifts to every woman in the congregation, even teenagers! I felt a little strange receiving a gift on Mother's Day even though I didn't have a child.

Now as I get older and have conversations with others who are yet to be parents, I really respect that church's decision to honor every woman on Mother's Day. The truth is, we never know where people are at or what they've been through.

It makes me wonder how those women feel who have..

  • lost a child
  • had a miscarriage
  • made the difficult decision to give their child up for adoption
  • struggled with infertility
  • been denied the privilege to adopt
  • lost contact with their children

I wonder if there's a way that we could celebrate motherhood more in terms of how we care for all of the children in our lives. I think about the older women in my life who have never parented children. How do they feel as Mother's Day approaches? Do they dread it? Do they ignore it? Do they celebrate it?

What would it be like if we looked around at the women in our lives and acknowledged the ways that they have helped us to grow into the people we are? I think anyone with children would agree with me that raising a child takes more than just the mom and the dad; raising a child takes an entire community.

As Mother's Day 2011 draws near, please take some time to consider the following three questions:
  1. Who are the older women in your life who have served as secondary mothers to you and impacted your life in some way?
  2. Are there any single women or any women without children in your life that you could acknowledge on this special holiday?
  3. If you're planning on holding a Mother's Day celebration, is there a way that you could turn it from an exclusive celebration into an inclusive one?
Let's make a point to recognize those important women who have been overlooked for too long.


  1. This is beautiful. Thank you, Amber. Thank you.

  2. I love this, Amber. Thank you. I've often had these thoughts as well. You said it so perfectly.