It hit me last night that I had forgotten to send Mother’s Day cards to the very special women in my life that I would normally remember this weekend. I haven’t been into a store in the last six weeks because of my second foot surgery, but that doesn’t explain away the fact that I didn’t get cards. I honestly just didn’t think about it. That makes me sad. Now, I have obsessed over it all night. With little sleep and tears flowing, I’m watching the dawn break.
Tomorrow will be the second Mother’s Day without my Mom physically here. Last year, my professional counselor asked me often leading up to Mother’s Day how I was going to honor my mother since it had only been seven months since her death. She asked me about my process of mourning and how I was handling my grief. She was trying to help me prepare for the challenge of the weekend. I appreciate how she guided me to think well in advance of how to recognize the day. As the COVID pandemic raged and stay-at-home orders were in place, Steve and I planted roses, azaleas, and butterfly bushes. Each plant brought memories of how my mother loved flowers. She always said she wanted them while she was living, not at her funeral. The blooming of each one this spring has brought back precious memories.
This year, the counseling questions have been focused on how I’m dealing with this ongoing foot surgery and recovery. In advance of the second surgery, I bought Easter cards and prepared them on the weekend following my surgery. But I forgot the Mother’s Day cards.
A dear friend is preparing for her mother’s celebration of life service this afternoon. Other friends are walking the journey of being with their mothers as they transition from this life. Still others are facing this first Mother’s Day following the deaths of their mothers. I know I’m not alone in dealing with a challenging weekend.
Yet, there are those mother figures in my life that I needed, that I wanted to honor. Yes, I can pick up the phone and call, but I’ve missed the one tangible act this year that I could easily accomplish. I forgot the Mother’s Day cards.
While I am filled with joyful anticipation about the return to in-person worship tomorrow at our church, I acknowledge that there will be many of us entering worship expecting the hurt and tears that come with traditional acknowledgements of this weekend. I’ve had 46 years of Father’s Days without my Dad, but churches have never placed the same emphasis on recognizing fathers as they do mothers. Mother’s Day has been hard enough for decades now, even when my Mom was seated by my side. When you do not have children of your own – whether by choice, health or life decisions, Mother’s Day is hard. There are so many others who bring the memories and emotions of their own life contexts into this weekend. The same professional counselor who helped me face the first Mother’s Day without the presence of my mother, has also guided me through all the emotions of making a decision to not have children that flooded back with the birth of a step-grandchild.
Some of my tears this weekend come from actions of well-meaning church people who do not recognize the harm they cause. Especially since 2016 as the United Methodist debate over ordination of persons who are LGBTQ+ and same-gender weddings has intensified, more and more people have shared with me their argument that same-gender marriage cannot naturally fulfill God’s command that we multiply in order to glorify God’s kingdom. From their understanding has come the words that say one is not worthy of God’s love if you cannot or do not produce children without the help of medical science or choose not to do so at all. To members of my own church family who have made that argument while sitting directly across the table from me, I’ve wanted so many times to say, “Do you realize who you are talking to? – a woman without children of her own to whom I hear you saying that I don’t glorify God.” As the arguments are growing stronger again, as conversation gets louder about the future of The UMC, I forgot the Mother’s Day cards.
Daylight breaks, and I am grateful that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We all face difficulties. We are all struggling with the effects of the COVID pandemic. We all need the counselors and friends in our lives who ask the good and appropriate questions that help us deal with the challenges of life. So, I forgot the Mother’s Day cards; it’s just another step in the journey of walking Martha home.