I thought I’d dig up a little re-post as taming down the Mother’s Day hoopla to protect us non-moms has been trending …
It can get uncomfortable, right? Mother’s Day has all these rules now.
10 Things to Never Say on Mother’s Day
17 Ways to Destroy Your Church by Handing Out Roses on Mother’s Day
12 Do’s and Don’ts for Retail Clerks this Mother’s Day
I mean, it can get a little overwhelming. As a non-mom, I’ve got some messy thoughts on this messy subject.
The thing is, we are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. And I get it. My heart has bled on Mothers’-Days-Past as I wrestled with my unplanned unparenthood. But it’s also bled on Christmas and Fourth of July and days ending in Y. Pain is no respecter of holidays and dates.
And pain also isn’t satisfied with being just the boss of its victim – it wants to be the boss of everyone in the room. Pain would love nothing more than to see a room full of people feeling awkward and unsure how or if to celebrate something because it will make someone else uncomfortable.
This isn’t about embracing pain. I don’t like pain. I don’t like discomfort. I’m not the girl who signs up for the gym because it-hurts-so-good. Also, I don’t sign up for the gym for any other reason. But I do know that pain and celebration can happen at the same time. That they can GIVE to one another instead of taking away. There’s this sacred dichotomy of grief and celebration happening all around us every. single. day. And if we let it, it can make us stronger.
A few years ago, my bright-eyed-newlywed baby sister and I were out Christmas shopping. Now, you should know that she is ten years my junior, surpasses me in all things hair and makeup, is an opera singer and a beauty queen (literally) but somehow not a drama queen. Oh, and she farts rainbows.
So there we were. As we crossed the parking lot, her little button nose wrinkled up at the scent of grease wafting towards us from a fast-food restaurant. “What, are you pregnant?” I asked, jokingly-because-of-course-she’s-not-pregnant-she’s-a-baby-and-babies-can’t-have-babies-what-a-funny-joke-I’m-making-ha-ha-ha-ha. But then her feet stopped, her eyes widened, and she silently nodded yes.
You guys, my world fell out. I’d traversed hundreds of pregnancy announcements from the time we started “trying”, but my BABY sister was going to have a BABY?
Nothing humbles you faster than the ugly cry. In public. In a parking lot.
And bless it, that was my reaction to my baby sister’s news. It definitely wasn’t the way she wanted to deliver it; it definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to receive it. But I’m so glad that neither of us had a chance to be fake in that moment. I’m so glad we didn’t have time to prepare or take deep breaths or brace ourselves or plan speeches. I’m so glad there was no time for white gloves.
Together we hugged and cried and wiped snot (our own, not each others – mostly), and we found our way THROUGH it, not around it.
And you know what, it was hard. Like hard-hard. At Christmas she announced their news – she made cute little jerseys for each of the littles that make up the family “team”. Each had their number, their birth order number, on the back. It was adorable. And painful as hell. Because with each kid that unwrapped a jersey number, 1-9, and as my parents opened their “surprise Number 10”, I was sitting there with a big fat zero.
But my zero and her 10 were two totally completely separate things happening. They were both happening at the same time, but they were not the same thing.
With the snot-fest out of the way, we got to have crazy-real conversations throughout her pregnancy. I was honest when it was hard. She was honest when it was hard. Spoiler alert: sometimes it can be just as hard to figure out how to celebrate while someone you love grieves, as it is to figure out how to grieve while someone you love celebrates.
Also, she just had her second baby. Powering through the grief storm together makes these celebratory moments that much richer.
At every wedding, there is someone grieving the pain of divorce.
At every birthday party, there is someone grieving the death of a loved one.
At every Church service, there is a mama celebrating as her son walks with the Lord while another mama grieves as her son has walked away from Him.
At every grocery store and fairground and park and office and schoolroom there is a heart that is full and a heart that is empty.
So should we stop celebrating these things? Should we just tame it by saying “you know what? Every woman gets a rose today – or no one – or men too – or you know what let’s plant a rose garden – no not roses, succulents – so no one feels left out.”
Please don’t give me a rose on Mother’s Day. Please give it to those who didn’t get a full night’s sleep. Who respond to “why?” and “what for?” and “how?” hundreds of times a day. Who juggle soccer schedules and math homework and dinner menus like a champ.
And please don’t cancel the celebration. Because celebrating her is not a way of not celebrating me. I want us to teach each other that. Together. In my Community, my Church, my Family, I don’t want us to tame the celebration, and I don’t want us to tame the grief. I want to be in a place where both grief and celebration have a chance to play into one another and say “aha, yes, I see you there.”
I want both to be okay. Because both are okay. Even when it hurts. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Really.