May 5, 2015

Thoughts on Mother's Day and the Church (Repost)

This was originally posted here on May 10, 2014.
This is an excerpt from a post I wrote a couple years ago, but never posted:

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Did you know that Mother's Day is called Mother's Day and not Mothers' Day?
(note the placement of the apostrophe in Mother's).

That was done on purpose when Mother's Day was invented, because it was meant for each of us to celebrate our mothers individually within our own families, not meant to be a corporate celebration of all mothers worldwide.  I'm serious....look it up.  

Did you hear that, oh ye churches of the world?  So, maybe you should stop making it a corporate celebration wherein all mothers stand and receive honor and glory and praise and applause and flowers, whilst us infertiles have to stay seated, trying to keep ourselves from becoming bawling buffoons just because we don't have working uteruses. (what is the plural of uterus?  uteri?)  But really, what do I know?  I skip church on Mother's Day. 

I do have a lot of serious thoughts about Mother's Day, and I am working through them all right now, trying to write up something coherent about it.  One thing that struck me this year was thinking about all the women from the Old Testament who would have also been left sitting in church on Mother's Day for most of their lives, had it existed at the time.  The Bible makes it very clear that God did not forget them.....so maybe the churches shouldn't forget them/us either.  And, I suppose they are not a bad camp of women to be among.

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It's been two years since I wrote that post.  And I guess now I have finally worked through my thoughts enough to write about them.  I'm sure that my feelings about Mother's Day will continue to evolve and that the future will bring continued healing. But, I'll never forget how hard Mother's Day was for me, and, for the sake of other people, I don't want to forget.

I think the church needs to rethink how we do Mother's Day.  Not all churches, but the church as a whole.  When you have a select group of people who feel that they need to avoid church on a certain day, and when church is the last place they want to be, I think that signals a problem. Our home church has come a long way on the topic and chooses to celebrate all women on this day, rather than just mothers.  I think with any celebration, we have to think about what we are saying and how it will effect an entire congregation.  And, while many will feel momentarily celebrated on Mother's Day, there are others who will just feel further isolation that will last far beyond that day. 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think we should be celebrating Mother's Day in the church. (Who decided it needed to fall on a Sunday every year anyways?).  What other secular holiday, other than Father's Day, (which usually isn't made into as big of a deal) do we celebrate in the church?

I get that we want to honor the role of mothers in a world that sometimes devalues this calling.  But, I also believe that we need to speak truthfully about what it means to be a woman.  Motherhood is not our highest calling.  Following Jesus is.  And that calling is going to play out differently in each woman's life. Not every woman is called to be a mother, and not every woman is called to be a wife.  So, when we have a day in church where we honor mothers, and we do not have a day where we honor other women doing other work, we are elevating motherhood above anything else a woman might do. And this is especially painful for women who would love to be wives and mothers, but aren't for reasons beyond their control.

This is damaging.  I can say without hesitation that church was by far the most difficult place for me when we were walking through infertility and waiting to become parents, and not just on Mother's Day.  It is where I felt the least valued and the most insecure. I have talked to many people who have said the same thing, including single people. We've created a church culture that puts mothers and the nuclear family on display, and in a place where everyone is supposed to be included, many are excluded. 

So, as Mother's Day approaches, I am feeling a mixture of emotions. This day represented so much pain for me for so long, that I'm not walking into my first Mother's Day feeling light hearted and excited. I am thankful to be on this side, and I do want to celebrate this day with my family (and just my family). I am deeply, deeply grateful to be a mother now. But, I also want to remember those who are hurting, and I do not want or need to be publicly celebrated at their expense.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just found your blog when I was searching for adoption stuff :). I LOVE this post so much. Church should not be a place where anyone feels like they are less than or excluded...I have definitely felt that so many times over the past three years we have been trying to conceive our first. I was asked to serve on Mother's Day weekend last year and welcome every mother I saw with a "happy mother's day" and I'm sure I was the most depressed volunteer ever while I was saying it. Each time I had to wish someone else a happy mother's day, while I longed so badly to be part of that "club", it killed me a little inside, and I still get emotional thinking about it. I absolutely loved when you said that "Motherhood is not our highest calling, following Jesus is." SO GOOD. We will definitely not be making that mistake again though and will be skipping church that weekend this year. Thank you for your honesty and saying what so many of us infertiles are thinking. Prayers for your sweet family! :)

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