Celebrating Mother’s Day
First, we can and should celebrate mothers of all kinds. If we understand mothers to be all women who nurture and care for others, then we don’t have to limit the conversation to only the women who have children in their home. So we celebrate the women who have chosen to adopt because they beautifully exemplify the gospel. We acknowledge the women who foster as they provide a safe place and pour out love for those children. And we can appreciate new moms, stay at home moms, working moms, and every woman who cares for their precious children.
But we also should praise the women, single or married, who mentor, disciple, and spiritually nourish the next generation. Regardless of how they become part of your family, women in Christ are tasked with spiritual motherhood, and that is something we should acknowledge and celebrate even more than a woman’s reproductive capacity. This celebration of all women reflects the high value of the family of God and looks beyond our traditional understanding of “mothers” to be recognized and appreciated. Ask yourself: who are the women who have spiritually mothered you, who have been integral to your growth in Christ?
Grieving Mother’s Day
But we also need to grieve the brokenness of our world and our relationships. It’s possible to hold both grief and celebration together, if we allow space for both. There’s room in my Mother’s Day to grieve the children I carried but never met; there’s space to grieve my grandmother who is with the Lord. They are part of my journey as a woman and a spiritual mother, but we also should grieve how sin brought spiritual and physical death into our world. There’s space to acknowledge the women who long for motherhood, whether as single women or those who are unable to have children. There are no barren women in the kingdom of God.
I can encourage and lift up the women I know who grieve the lost relationship with their mothers either because of conflict or because of death. When reconciliation feels (or is) impossible, that finality is heavy and painful. This holiday can trigger or provoke grief in so many ways, and that grief is valid because our world and our bodies and our relationships are deeply broken by sin. If that’s you, we see you. You have not been forgotten.
Taking Off the Blinders
So what do we do with all this? I’d argue we take off the blinders and look around at all the women we’ve missed on Mother’s Day. Who needs you to say, “I see you”? Who can you acknowledge for their spiritual nurturing and mothering? I have seen churches do this well when they acknowledge all the women of the congregation, identifying their faithfulness in spiritual motherhood as something beautiful and worthy of recognition. If we can expand our perspective to emphasize the family of God rather than just the nuclear family, we see that every woman is called and able to spiritually mother others.
If you’re grieving this Mother’s Day, especially privately, let me encourage you to share that burden with someone. In my experience, when I opened up to other women, they listened and often shared similar, unspoken burdens of their own. I felt seen, and that was comforting given how taboo and hidden these struggles can be.
If someone shares their grief with you this Mother’s Day, consider the honor it is to walk through this with them. Don’t try to paint a picture of a hopeful future or say “One day when you’re a mom…” Sit with them in their grief today.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to every woman of God who nurtures and cares and teaches the next generation to know Christ and make him known. You are a blessing to the Church, and we see you.