When we entered the classroom, there was a floor lamp minus a shade, a chair sitting beside the blackboard. All of us were curious, silencing the normal classroom chatter as we jostled into our desks.
“Today we will be working as partners. I need a volunteer to demonstrate how we make silhouettes.”
Most other years, we just drew cards or planted flowers to take to our mothers for Mother’s Day, but the year we made silhouettes was memorable. And my silhouette hung on the wall in my mother’s laundry room many years after it was made.
Twenty years later, I began receiving Mother’s Day cards from my daughters. Tender moments as they excitedly gave me their handiwork. I still get some handmade greetings, though they are more sophisticated now.
About that time, I realized purchased cards said things that I could not honestly say to my mom. Selecting a card required care and delicate wording. Though I honored my mom and knew she had done the best that she could, there were a lot of empty places in my life. Like many young adults, it was easy to put the blame on her rather than acknowledge that I was a broken, wretched sinner.
God blessed me with a mother-in-law who knew how to love more unconditionally. It was easy to find a card that expressed what I meant.
She also taught me that motherhood is a gift.
Frankly, sometimes all that I felt was the responsibility of being a mom.
But she helped me see that having children was a gift, and that each one of our girls was a treasure.
And I had a friend who remained single and childless, except for her classroom of children each year.
So I began to see that Mother’s Day might be a dagger in the hearts of some.
To those who desired to be moms but were not able to be, for whatever reason.
To those whose mothers had been unable to love them in the way they needed to be loved.
To those whose mothers had died, even if the child was an adult.
To those who failed their expectations of being the mom of their dreams.
To those whose children had broken off communication and rejected all they had been taught.
So this Sunday, bear in the mind those whose hearts are breaking, for whatever reason.
Our mothers—and we all have one – are part of our DNA, half of the first cell that began our existence. Some of our mothers were able to be part of nurturing us, some were part of our pain, some had to give us away.
Caretaker mothers feed us, comfort us, teach us, pick us up when we fall. And a godly mother prays for us and leads us to Jesus.
For many this weekend is a time to honor our mothers. But for many others, it is a painful reminder of all that our mother was not able to do or to be. For some it is another hit on dreams unfulfilled.
So walk gently with those around you this weekend. These scars are not visible.
And perhaps you’ll discover that along with the celebration, you, too, carry ambivalence in the mother-child connection.