This will be the first Mother’s Day in a long time when I haven’t felt out of place, embarrassed, humiliated, broken, and like a complete failure. Especially at church. Mother’s Day is so glorified and emphasized at church that the place where I usually receive comfort and peace weekly becomes the place where one day out of the year I feel most heartbroken. On Mother’s Day at church this is what it feels like to those of us who aren’t mothers: It feels like the most delicious lemonade has been prepared. Fresh lemons have been squeezed into a pitcher of clear, cold water, sweet sugar has been stirred in, and ice cubes have been added to keep the drink cold and refreshing. Tall glasses of this beautiful, delicious lemonade are poured and served to each woman in the congregation who happens to have children. And they drink joyfully, and many of them tearfully explain how grateful they are to have been blessed to have the children that qualify them for this lemonade. But for the women who aren’t mothers, on this day their hearts are open, raw, and broken. Instead of receiving a cold glass of lemonade, the fresh cut lemons are squeezed directly onto the cuts and wounds of their hearts. The pain they already carry daily is emphasized in an extreme way, yet no one seems to notice. Everyone is so busy either pouring and serving the glasses of lemonade or drinking it themselves.
But this year on Mother’s Day Sunday, for the first time I will go to church on a lovely spring day without the keen sensation of an empty womb. My baby girl will move and kick inside me as I sit and listen to the talks that glorify motherhood. And I will feel a little confused and overwhelmed as I realize that this year, for the first time, I am being offered a glass of the sweet, cold lemonade. I will look around and know that acidic drops of cut lemons are surely piercing the hearts of countless women around me, and I will feel guilty raising the glass of lemonade to my lips. But if you are one of those women who will be hurting this Mother’s Day, I want you to know that while many women will sip the lemonade and exclaim how sweet it is, I will not be able to drink it without tasting the bitterness of the lemons. No matter how much sugary sweetness has been added in the forms of potted plants given out after the church service, or in future years slobbery toddler kisses and scribbled cards, I will never forget the bitter pain felt on the other side, the “You’re Not a Mother Today” side. While part of my heart will surely rejoice in receiving the long-sought title of “Mother,” another part will ache for those who are still seeking that title, as well as those who may have given up hope of ever receiving it.
If you find yourself in that position, please know that you are not forgotten. I know this day will be hard. But I also know I won’t be the only mother unable to taste her lemonade without tasting the bitterness of the lemons that went into making it. My lemonade was flavored with the lemons of unexplained infertility. Other mothers are drinking lemonade flavored with the lemons of miscarriage, divorce, loss of a child, marriage that came much later than they hoped, loss of their own mother, or concern for children who have strayed from what their mother taught them. On Mother’s Day, the lemons that add a tangy bitterness to our individual glasses of lemonade are not always spoken of or acknowledged in the talks we hear at church or the sentiments we see sprinkled across social media posts. Everyone seems to focus on how indescribably sweet the lemonade of motherhood is, how impossible it is to comprehend such a delicious taste without being a mother yourself. I wish it weren’t that way. I wish I could tell you that this year will be different, and you won’t encounter anything that squeezes your heart and knocks the wind out of you.
But I know I can’t control that. All I can do is let you know that even though your struggle may feel invisible, your pain is real and valid and not forgotten to those of us who tasted of those bitter, undiluted, acidic lemons before receiving the lemonade of motherhood. We will be thinking of you and praying for you this Mother’s Day and always. More importantly, know that you are not forgotten by our Savior Jesus Christ. I wonder what a different experience it would be if Jesus Christ himself was personally present to preside over the meeting this Mother’s Day Sunday. Would those women whose circumstances are not ideal be made to feel less-than or unwelcome? Of course not. He would minister personally to each woman, no matter her age, situation, or title. I imagine that He would take the time to talk with each of them one by one, look into her eyes, and tell her how loved she is, how precious she is, how pleased He is with the good things she is doing and the light she personally brings into the world. I am certain that He would weep with the women whose hearts are breaking and enfold them in His loving arms. How I wish that personal, literal experience with the Savior could happen to every woman this Mother’s Day! I may not know the day or the hour, but I testify to you that I know it will happen for every single one of us. Jesus Christ lives, and He will come again one day, and when He does, I have no doubt that He will take the time to minister, bless, and comfort each and every one of us. Truly, He will wipe away all tears, for it was He who felt the bitterness of every individual lemon life would ever hand each one of us when He bled from every pore on our behalf. I pray that each of us will feel His infinite love for us, on Mother’s Day and always.