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Unconditional Love in the Messiness of Mother’s Day

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momdaughAs a Mother’s Day treat this year, I got a wonderful pedicure.  As is the custom, I grabbed a handful of magazines to thumb through while the nice lady attacked my feet.  I should disclose here that I’m a runner. ‘Nuff said.One of the magazines was Cosmopolitan. (Oh, get over it; yes, I did.)  Recently, someone complained to me that Cosmo is now more like porn and should be in a brown wrapper.  So I wanted to see.  This one wasn’t unless you count line drawing and I don’t). But it was definitely edgy and not something I would want a kid perusing and certainly not something I would allow in my home.  However, that’s not the point of this blog.

The most interesting article in the entire magazine, rife with food, makeup, clothes, celeb gossip and, yes, sex, was the one that contained stories from young women who didn’t have great moms.  It was an effort to give voice to something most people don’t want to admit and that is that moms aren’t perfect and some are downright horrific. (More on that in a moment.)  For some women and men, there is real pain attached to this day.

I want to take a moment and acknowledge the hurt that Mother’s Day sometimes brings.  Let’s remember the millions of women who have lost children through death, through a miscarriage, or through an abortion.  A church I attended allowed women to choose flowers to commemorate their children: pink for those living and white for those who died in any of the ways I mentioned above.  I was surprised to see friends of mine with several white flowers.  One of my friends lost three children via miscarriages.  I had no idea.  I also observed in a rather solemn service, women well past middle-age weeping for lost children, some of whom died in an abortion.  NARAL lies.  The after effects of abortion are complicated and long lasting.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is pain for women who have experienced infertility.  A woman in my church skips the Mother’s Day service because it’s another reminder of a lost dream for her.  I am not sure how to help in those cases, but I think we need to work to acknowledge her loss, too.

Finally, there is the group of women I mentioned before.  We are women for which this day is also complicated.  The young women in the magazine were still saddened by moms who had addictions, narcissism, and other issues.  Although they loved their mothers, celebrating them isn’t simple.  I am one of those women. My mother suffered most of my life with clinical depression.  That meant that she spent a lot of years in bed unable or unwilling to attend to the normal duties that we moms do every day.  I knew better than to raise my hand to volunteer to bring cupcakes for the class party or to bring friends home too often.  She had little ability to hear about my day or cart me to activities. As a grown woman, I know this is an illness, but the sting exists, especially once I had my own children and realized all the things that I had missed.

On the upside, I need to say that God sent amazing women to step up and care for me.  My Godmother, Walta Lee, now in Heaven, made sure I had all the clothes I needed.  In fact, I blame her for my clothes horse tendencies.  My friend Sheree’s mom drove me all over town to ball games and other activities.  My friend Kim’s mom allowed me to spend the night anytime I wanted.  Many other women were very kind.  I so appreciate them and the many women around the country who go out of their way to mother other people’s kids.  You are a blessing, and they may not thank you properly until they are grown.

I realize that I am disclosing very personal information, but I do so in the hopes of acknowledging that people have messy lives and that as Christians we are able to help each other when we admit that not everything is a “Hallmark moment.”  Mental illness robs even Christian families of joy.  Loss of children breaks our hearts, too.  We help each other by being honest.  Frankly, the death of Rick Warren’s son has flung open the lines of communication about these realities.  My friend Shannon Royce has a ministry called Chosen Families geared to helping families dealing with unseen disabilities.

Tomorrow, I will receive coffee in bed from my awesome children, and I will celebrate my mom who did her best.  I will also look around me for those who are sad and seek to love them especially.  God’s love is perfect and redemptive.  He has given it to me in a million different ways and through hundreds of His people.  I hope I can give some of that away tomorrow, too.  Let’s love unconditionally and truthfully, embracing all the messiness of broken people in a fallen world.  That is the grace we were thankfully shown by Christ.