Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day Dilemma

I had a happy Mother's Day.  My family cleaned out the inside of my van as a gift; if you've seen my van, you know that was a pretty good gift.  (My father asked, "If you cleaned it, what's holding it together?")  They surrounded me with love and affection, and they took me out for sushi for dinner, which is my favorite, not theirs.  I talked to my own mother, who I'll see next week when she comes from Indiana for her grandson's high school graduation; she told me she loved the flowers I sent.  She really does love flowers.  I should send them to her more often, and not just for Mother's Day.

At Mass Father Kevin, our new priest who I barely know, had all the mothers stand at the end for a special Mother's Day blessing.  I hate that part.  I don't mind the blessing, but I hate the standing, the singling out.  After Mass I asked one of the church ladies if next year she couldn't prevail upon Father Kevin to tell everyone to stand, or sit, and then bless the mothers, because I thought it was really painful for some people when he did that.  Said church lady looked at me as though I suggested trading in the Communion wine for Coca-Cola.  "Well, if you're a godmother, you could stand because of that," she said.

Oh, right.  Because I know exactly how that would go down.  Nobody would think that otherwise childless woman was standing because she was a godmother.  They'd think she was standing because she was pregnant. 

Here's the truth:  Mother's Day is hard for a lot of women.  Very hard.  I have friends and family members who've battled infertility, who've had multiple miscarriages and expensive, painful medical procedures.  Some of them eventually became mothers.  Some of them did not.  Some of them feel the loss of those children-who-might-have-been every single day.

I have friends and family members who lost their own mothers far too soon.  Whose mothers were absent at their weddings.  Whose children will never have a grandma.  For them, Mother's Day is about the mother they miss, not the mother they are.

I have friends and family members estranged from their mothers, or embroiled in difficult relationships with them, relationships beyond redemption through no fault of their own.  Some people don't get Hallmark mothers.  Some people get crazy, abusive, or addicted mothers.  Those people mourn too.

I love my mother, and I love being a mother.  I have two fantastic children I'm crazy about.  But when I stand in the pew on Mother's Day, I'm aware that there are women in the church with broken hearts, and really, I'd rather sit beside them.