What’s it like for non-traditional mothers on Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day used to depress me. I straddled that awkward line of ‘do I count?’ when it came to identifying myself as a mom.

As a natural mother, birth mother, first mother, whatever you want to call it, I didn’t know if I fit the bill for the title of mother. I carried and gave birth to a baby. She was legally mine for three days, up until I signed the papers. I had been a mother for nine months and three days.

But I wasn’t sure if that held any weight.

Every Mother’s Day at church, when the moms were asked to stand for an ovation from the congregation, I always wondered ‘do I qualify?’ I never stood amongst them. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I already knew what would be on everyone’s mind – “But she doesn’t have a child?”

I didn’t want to explain to everyone the reason why I didn’t have a child. It would only serve to re-open wounds, and the day in-and-of itself was already emotional enough.

I can imagine the same feeling for other non-traditional mothers: mothers of miscarriages, mothers of abortion, mothers of still births, mothers of lost custody battles. Even though there is no evidence of a child, the mother’s body is incapable of forgetting it was once there. A piece of that bond always remains.

With every passing year the loathing feeling for Mother’s Day lessened. But it never completely went away. Not until my heart found healing for the gaping hole – the absence of the motherhood that once was.

I’m still working to pinpoint exactly when my heart was healed. I suspect it was a culmination of little events: forgiving myself, looking forward to the future, God’s restoration.

For me Mother’s Day is a gift. Not just because I fit the bill of traditional mother now, but because I am content with being both.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the US. I hope that all you non-traditional moms can count yourselves worthy of the celebration.


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