I remember distinctly a year or so before we got pregnant with our only child, my husband handed me a flower on Mother’s Day. We were in a very small church and each woman was given a flower from her children. I was the only woman there who did not have a child. I felt like I hadn’t earned my flower and I was a little embarrassed to hold it. “You will be a great mother someday,” he said. Soon God did give us a child after several yeas of hoping for one. She is three years old and full of life and I am so grateful and proud to be her mother.
But still my heart aches on Mother’s Day. In part I am grieving the loss of a dream. The picture I had held in my mind of a large family, which it seems God is not giving us, at least not in a way that I expected. It hurts to accept that God has something different for my life than what I had imagined, and though I have a wonderful abundant, blessed life that in so many ways is far more than I could have ever asked for or certainly than I deserve, the loss is still painful.
On Mother’s Day I remember that flower. That flower of hope in the face of unmet expectations. Of loss in the midst of blessings. I think of the mother I know that left her kids behind in Mexico so she could provide them a better life by working in the US. I think of my dear friends who held the hands of their own mothers this year as they slipped away from this life. I remember the mom who is the same age as me, now in heaven, her children today celebrating her, missing her. I think of the patients I’ve had who were terrified of their pregnancies, who loved their children but just didn’t know if they could do it. I think especially of my dear friends who long for a baby but will spend yet another Mother’s Day with empty arms.
So much of the beauty of motherhood is in the acceptance of the suffering which it requires. Having been a mother for a few years now it seems more and more fitting that the birth of a child should be both hazardous and incredibly painful. In every bit of love we give there is risk of heartbreak. Motherhood reminds us that loving another person is dangerous and yet we choose to do it, we long to do it, it is our joy to do it.