Mother’s Day is hard. It’s difficult to celebrate this role when the one who taught me the most, the one whose opinion mattered so much, isn’t here any longer.
It’s hard to think about how to be what my children need when I face this gaping hole, an absence where it still feels like my mom should be. When, even after several years, I feel lost… adrift… permanently damaged, even as I go about my days. I’m not depressed. But I miss her. I feel perpetually lonely without her.
On a day like today, all I can think about is what my mom did for me. How she—even through her criticisms—was my unconditional place. My biggest supporter and strongest cheerleader. How she saw what was bad, misguided, or just plain wrong in my actions—and didn’t hesitate to say so—because she believed I was capable of so much more. Because she thought I was so much better than that.
I wonder now—when I rebelled, did it hurt her the way my own kids hurt me?
Did she stand firm in her opinions anyway, simply because there was no other choice? Because she had to be the mom she knew I needed, rather than the one I thought I wanted?
Did she lie awake at night, wondering if she was doing right by her kids?
Did she fume all day when I yelled at her unjustly?
And even so, did she defend me, instinctively, against any and all criticisms?
Did she mourn over her inability to protect me from people who would hurt me, injure my opinion of myself, break my heart?
I’m certain she did. As a teen, I was oblivious to that. As a parent myself, I now understand her better. Lord, You gave me wonderful mom, and I’m so grateful. And You’ve blessed me with remarkable, amazing children. So why do I feel more like crying than rejoicing?
Because I fully recognize all that I lost. All that she was to me. All that a mom should be to her child. And I’m afraid I can’t live up. I’m afraid I’ve already failed irreparably. I’m afraid my kids will never understand the depths of my love for them. My desperation to shield them from all that could harm them. My unlimited hopes and aspirations for them. They may never understand how deeply I feel the things that hurt them. Or how much I believe in them.
Maybe they’ll get it when they have children of their own.
Maybe someday they’ll cling to You when they realize they don’t have control over their own kids’ lives. Maybe they’ll live in awe of a God who loves us with a Father’s love. Maybe they’ll understand that we are forever connected, whether we’re both on this earth or not. Maybe they’ll grasp the reality that parenting well involves huge risk. It involves making unpopular decisions and hard choices and knowing that we can’t fix everything. It requires being hands-off sometimes when our instincts tell us to cling tight. It consists of a love so great that it isn’t changed by circumstances, actions, achievements—or by disappointments or failures. Our hearts are forever tethered to each other.
Lord, as I write this, I feel my heart loosening. My gratitude welling up. My sadness is still there but not bringing me down… instead, it’s lifting up my head, directing my sight towards You. Because I do have reasons to celebrate. Reasons so much greater than flowers and gifts or the perfect card.
I have You. And I had her (and will always have her, even if she’s not here). And I have my kids.
And I do have joy… in spite of the sadness. But on this day, with Your help, I will let joy prevail. Thank You, Lord.