Empty Arms Mothers Day

So its mothers day again; cold coffee, crumbs in bed from burnt toast, runny eggs and construction paper cards. Really, its’ not much different from other days in our house. And no, I do not get breakfast in bed or cards everyday, life is still life regardless of the calendar. The house is loud, messy and they’re all still going about what they do every day. Lately that’s bickering and complaining.

Every year on Mothers Day I have this strong awareness and concern for all my friends who  have suffered infertility, or miscarriage. I’ve lost several, so I know the sadness and heavy heart of losing a baby.

Then there are my couple friends who were asked to suffer on a completely different level. There are the ones who had still born babies, or ill babies who lived only a couple hours, or months. Those hearts are broken in a way I could never fathom.

Finally, my friends Ive made over the last couple years. Those are my friends whose babies they were able to watch grow up and then lost them with so much of their future ahead of them. I had a small taste when we sat next to our son in the hospital unresponsive for hours. I could never comprehend our lives if we hadn’t had a miracle that night. I don’t think I could have lived through what some of you had to endure with the loss of your children.

All those mothers whose day today is bitter sweet, you are the ones I pray for each Mothers Day.

How many of us can remember the very moment we saw each of our babies? All of us. We can remember the weight of them as they were put in our arms, the softness of their little heads, how surprising it was to look at this little face for the first time but already know them so well.

For the mommies whose babies are still small, cherish and savor all those moments. Inevitably life changes and shifts and throws at you circumstances that organically morph the life we thought we had into something else.

As much as we love our kids and brag about their accomplishments, some kids are just harder to raise than others. Some are intensely sensitive and twist what you do or say. Some are socially awkward and have unending trouble with peers, some struggle with anxiety and fear, some have troubles in school, some are complainers, some have illness, some have ADD, or Autism. We never know what challenge that sweet soft baby will bring. And every challenge they have adds weight to our hearts. As mothers we carry it with them.

Carrying their burden is a beautiful part of being a woman and motherhood. Its how we’re designed. We are intimately connected with our babies, even when they are no longer babies.

Its so funny to think of my own progression of motherhood from child to child. How I panicked  that my oldest might start preschool without knowing his ABC’s, that he always looked clean and perfect. Now I’m lucky if the little’s get to nursery school on-time and I’ve been known to use their own shirts to wiper their noses (hey- you do what you have to, I’ve used my shirt too!).

The best part of that progression is the realization that they are their own person, with unique talents and interests. Letting them discover what they love and grow in skill is a great reward of motherhood. The down side to that progression is that at some point they choose what we would not have chosen for them. We live through the pain of the aftermath of those decisions with them.

The older you get the more you see life is never what we plan, but you live through the good and the bad and you feel their experiences as if it was yourself. I think of it when I see old ladies who are hunched over and spend their days in churches praying. I’m beginning to understand the wrinkles in their faces. Life can be complicated and hard to navigate for entire families and the burden ages us.

Some times we’ lose’ our kids, hopefully its a temporary separation and they learn and grow from the phase. For those of you whose children have flown far away in an effort to ‘grow up’, try to remember the precious times you had with them and hold onto the hope that they’ll return.

But some of you, you are left without your precious babies and your arms are empty… and as always every  year I think of you.

I hope and pray you find comfort in old photos today, or in memories of better days. I hope that you find the faith to persevere and relish how precious your other children are if you have them. I hope you find the faith to wait and see your babies again someday when life’s journey ends. Sad, I know on what should be a happy celebration of the guardians of life, but I wanted to you all to know, all of you who hide your broken hearts, that you’re not alone today.