I remember my first Mother’s Day like it was yesterday.
There was the usual buzz in the air…flowers, chocolates, lunches out to celebrate, and a whole lot of smiling women being honored for their daily investment into their children and families. And rightfully so. Mothers are amazing! They deserve EVERY bit of praise, celebration, and honor that can possibly be given to them.
There was just one problem that bright sunny Mother’s Day: I wasn’t “technically” a mother.
A mere 8 weeks prior, we had gotten the news from our doctor that our baby had no heartbeat. In an instant, everything I had been hoping for and dreaming of was gone. I was heartbroken. [Read about my miscarriage journey here.]
Fast forward to that second Sunday in May where I served on staff at my church. It was our Mother’s Day tradition to give away beautiful roses to each mom in attendance as a way of honoring them on this special day. And it happened to be my job to make it happen.
So there I stood, with a smile pasted on my face, handing out long-stemmed beauties to the moms whose babies made it. I choked back tears and fought the urge to drop the flowers and run away…as far as I could possibly go from there.
But instead, I smiled and continued on. “Happy Mother’s Day,” I greeted each mom as I extended the gift of a single rose.
Yet inside, I was devastated.
I could barely look those moms in the eye because I so desperately ached to have what they had. Even the ones who complained about being too busy to take a break or their toddlers throwing tantrums or their colicky babies keeping them up at night.
I would have given ANYTHING to have those problems instead of mine.
But still, I smiled.
Only my closest friends and family knew I had even gotten pregnant in the first place. So I stood as a silent sufferer in a sea of smiling faces.
After the service was over and all the flowers had found a worthy home, I made my way to the lobby to find some task to keep me occupied as I tried to pick up the broken pieces of my heart.
I gathered loose papers under seats and straightened chairs until, suddenly, I sensed someone behind me. I turned to see my friend standing there holding a single rose in her hand.
She looked down at its delicate pink petals and back up at me. Then she held it out for me to take. I stared at her, confused at the gift. I’ll never forget what she said next.
“Here, I want you to have this. You are every bit as much a mother as I am.”
Her healing words instantly washed over my soul and began ministering to my broken heart. She pulled me into an embrace and I cried into her shoulder.
She got it.
It wasn’t about the flowers or the chocolates or the special lunch. It wasn’t about sleepless nights or abc’s or changing diapers.
A mother’s heart is not defined by those things.
A mother’s heart is about love. This crazy, ridiculous, sacrifice-everything type of love that overtakes you and makes you do things you never even knew were possible. A mother’s heart is not born with the birth of her baby. It starts with a longing.
And what I needed more than anything that Mother’s Day 8 years ago was to know that I was a mother too. That my heart as a mother was just as significant as the mom with 5 kids sitting next to me. That just because my arms were empty, my heart was still overflowing with love to be poured out to a child I’ve never met.
Because it’s true.
To all the moms with empty arms this Mother’s Day, I honor you. Whether you’ve walked through the heartbreak of miscarriage or infertility or stillbirth or child loss, I see you. If your dream of becoming a mother has been put on hold because of health or waiting to find the person you want to start a family with, I see you. You are not alone. And I honor you.
You are every bit as much a mother as the mom with a child in her arms. And your mama-heart is just as full of love.
So this Mother’s Day, I am giving you a rose. You deserve it.
Like this post? You may also enjoy…
- 5 Steps to Emotional Recovery After Miscarriage
- A Miscarriage Journey: Your Baby Matters
- 9 Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage