An open letter to pastors (A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day)

An Open Letter to Pastors

I’ve asked Amy Young to share her “Open Letter to Pastors,” with us. I came across this article a few years ago and it really spoke to my heart as the best medicine for me. I hope it serves to encourage you as it does me. Link to original here.

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

2.  Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

3. Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,



amy young Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she’s having fun!). Want a free book? Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and Signs of Eden Regained is YOURS (and win a chance for an awesome canvas of your choice — subscription drive until May 17th).



    • Dawn

      Thank you straight from my heart for this. I feel so out of place. I left church in tears today. I am divorced, married for 12 and I am now 40 with no partner or children. My ex husband found another woman or should I say women. This was not in my plan but God’s. I truly believe this. I am not going to church to serve and be with God. I find it SO hard to find my role in church, yet I know God will reveal this too me. I do feel like a shell as I write this. Empty. I was the only adult that didn’t seem to have a child or husband. The final set off was the little ones coming into give their moms roses. One of the ladies came by with the vase of roses and said, ” Did you get a rose?” I then said,” I have no children”. In a tough independent women fashion. As soon as we were dismissed I got into my car and cried my eyes out and I still am weeping. It was not good. I will always remember this day and I will never take for granted any women in my church. You are awesome. God bless you.

      • Dawn

        Ps. We should honor mothers. It’s not about bring self-consumed either. It’s about sensitivity. I love my mom. I just lost my grandma. I guess some ladies just don’t understand because they have not walked in my shoes. I celebrate this in Jesus’ name because I now know the feeling and hopefully I can now help someone else. I am so glad to see so many other women with compassion, grace and understanding.

      • Lisa

        Thank you to Amy and Dawn. I completely relate to your sentiments. While I celebrate my mother and her tremendous Christian love and example, I won’t be a mother myself and that grieves me. I’m 43, divorced and simply grieve everyday that God did not bless me with the life and love I’ve always longed for. I don’t know why God gives the special gift of Christian husband, family and health to some, but not others. I struggle with bitterness in this area, especially on Mother’s Day when it seems we celebrate the perfect family more than motherhood. Thank you for having the courage and specially chosen words to express these thoughts.

        • Mikey Spiller

          You can still be a mother. I felt the same way you do for the longest time and then I found foster care and it changed my life. These children need love and homes that are safe and someone to guide them. I have adopted three boys from foster care. They are the three best gifts that God has ever given to me.

          • Midge

            Good for you. I adopted three of my foster children after I gave birth to my bio daughter at the age of 40. I feel so blessed to be the mom of four.

      • Victoria

        Thanks Dawn for your comments
        I am sorry for the way you feel and i pray God to continually uphold you and strengthen you and other women with similar experiences. I am just overwhelmed with all the heart rendering comments I have read

        In my church on mother’s day the pastor invites ALL WOMEN not just mothers to pray for them and celebrate them. It’s our way of making everyone feel loved and inclusive. It is quite hurting when you don’t have a child of your own or can’t have because of certain reasons. My mum shared her pains with me how she felt without a child and her joy when she eventually had me and then more pains when she found out that she couldn’t have any more children for reasons she didn’t understand
        I pray for women in this painful situation to find solace and healing in the word of God; and find direction on how best to remain in the will of God. Life is indeed a mystery.

    • Larry L

      I believe you have missed one category and that is, a very young and naive woman that still feels the pain of years past when she had aborted her children. She feels remorse and that the children are not here today. She did not know the things she knows today and wish that could change but it is too late. She can’t see them but wish she could. She has asked God thru repentance to forgive her and God has. It has taken a toll on her over the years. She misses her children dearly for which she has names for each. One day when she leaves this place on earth she will meet her children face to face and will rejoice and hold them in her arms for eternity

    • Amy Young

      Heather, I have learned much these last two years about this difficult path. I am reminded in scripture that there will be times we will be given something we do NOT want to bear — but we are promised God will be with us and he will often send others to walk with us. Thanks for letting us walk a few steps with you today. I will be remembering and praying for you and others who wrestle with infertility. Amy

      • Nina Gearheart

        Dear Amy,

        I have stumbled on this interesting discussion and thought to share my own experience.

        My husband has been a missionary to Russia for over 20 years. I am a native Russian. We have five children, we lost four…. My twin sister and her husband can not have children… I lost my Mom almost 8 years ago, never lost the sharpness of the pain….
        I understand different opinions that my sisters in Christ have about Mother’s Day.


        By the way, we are in Russia now, in most churches they do not really celebrate it – mostly Christmas and Easter – true reasons for celebration!

        • Amy Young

          Nina, thanks so much for sharing both your experience and what church is like in Russia. The second church (where I stood), was in China. Between you and your sister, you have experienced a lot of loss. I am thankful we have a God who understands this pain as well!

    • Kathy

      Heather, I am so sorry for your loss(es) with infertility. Mother’s Day and other situations in church and the community were just plain painful and awkward for many years for me. I experienced the pain of infertility and failed adoptions for many years before my husband and I adopted our son after 14 years of marriage.

      Life is full of so many things we don’t want or expect. One thing that helped me a bit during our empty nest years was being busy in the lives of other kids (nieces, nephews, friends’ kids, volunteering at church etc.).

      In the midst of your ongoing heartache, I hope you will sense of calling from God of how He wants to use your life in the lives of others, including children. 🙂

      • Heather

        I do stay busy. I work in the nursery at church and all my friends who have kids know they have a always eager babysitter. I also have just become a teacher. I’m sorry for your losses but happy you finally had a successful adoption :).

  • Becky

    I have mixed feelings about this. I have seen the pain that ladies I love have gone through when they are childless – for whatever the reason. My heart hurts for them on Mother’s Day
    However, do we avoid honoring mothers for the sake of the feelings of non-mothers? What other achievements should we decide not to honor for the sake of those who have not achieved them? The Bible speaks of the importance of mercy, but always in the context of truth as well.
    We need to have the compassion and empathy to be sensitive to those who, for whatever reason, are not mothers and wish they were. However, they also need to be able to get their eyes off their own longings and be able to honor mothers… who work hard and sacrifice and are in the trenches every day trying to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
    I think of a lady who was in our church that was around my age. She was single, and travelled a lot, and pursued hobbies that interested her. I was really happy for her that she had the freedom to do that – even though I certainly couldn’t – though sometimes I found myself wishing I could do and see the things that she could.
    The bottom line is, yes – the Bible tells us to weep with them that weep, but it also tells us to rejoice with them that rejoice. Sometimes that’s a lot harder – but when we can’t, we need to examine our hearts carefully.

    • Amy Young

      Becky, mixed feelings, I GET IT :). Mothers are worthy of honor and I am for honoring them, I’m sorry if that wasn’t clearer in the letter. We all have limits and freedoms, they just will fall in different places than others :). The thing I’ve learned about standing — is that it’s awkward for some mom’s and non-mom’s — that’s why I’m advocating for finding other ways to honor than stand. But you’re not alone in your mixed feelings. The name of my blog is “The Messy Middle” — I get messy and mixed up. It’s where I live 🙂

      • MH

        I am an unmarried single woman.I have experienced the humility of being the only one sitting when the others are standing. It is cruel. I used to go to a Baptist Church that honoured ALL women on Mother’s Day by handing every single woman who came into the church a rose. It did not matter if they were married or single or childless or had a full quiver of kids. They honoured the role of mothering that all women do. It was so special to me to be included. Unfortunately after I moved and went to another church., they asked all the mothers to stand and go up front for their rose. It was one of the most humiliating experiences in my life and hurt me deeply. I went out to the church foyer, only to find another woman who had recently lost her unborn child in tears. It was and still is one of the most hurtful experiences in my life. I resolved it by never going to church on Mother’s Day again. Often the church talks about “church family” but that is never what they mean. The truth is, is that many single people are almost shunned in the church..especially if they are older like over 30. Families get together with other families for socials but the singles never belong to anything. They usually work their butt off in the church, but often go home alone when other families are getting together for meals. Holidays , especially Christmas eve are horrid for the single person because families want their private family time or if they invite company, it is usually another family. I have stopped going to church about 10 years now. It is the best decision that I have ever made. My “worldly” friends are much more inclusive and my life way from church is much more rich.

        • RBB

          After reading these comments, I have to say I agree with the “mixed feelings” crowd. We should be able to honor some without others feeling left out. Sorry, but if not being included in honor to mothers is one of the most humilitating experiences in life, then you are way too consumed with thinking life is all about your personal feelings and happiness. Unfortunately all too common in today’s church and society at large.

          • Cas

            Well said, RBB. I totally understand the heart behind this post, but I think it’s definitely a bit off track. I know it might feel awkward for those who don’t stand, but I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at it. There are some very deep hurts for women who haven’t been able to have children, for any reason, and those hurts are not easy to deal with and they are very legitimate hurts. I don’t know the history of Mother’s Day and how it got started, but I am sure it was NOT with the intention to make those who aren’t mothers, feel shamed. It was to bring thanks and recognition to those who have laid down their lives for their kids. Maybe, instead of sulking in your own disappointment, you should be happy for those around you. God doesn’t give everyone the same gifts. I know plenty of women blessed with children, and then plenty who don’t have children, but are blessed beyond measure in many other ways. COUNT your blessings. Be happy for others. Be thankful for what you do have. We have it SO, SO, SO good. If you are willing to walk out of church because your pastor wants to recognize mothers, then that’s the problem. It’s not the pastor, it’s not the ladies who have been blessed with kids…it’s you. So I encourage you- stay in church, even when it’s awkward or hurtful. You are there to honor the Lord, not yourself. Much love to all of you!

          • Em

            I think maybe the point is to recognize that it’s a painful reminder to some women and to figure out how to recognize mothers without rubbing salt in wounds. It is not easy to understand until you have experienced it. I would think the women who are hurting in these situations and long so deeply for children of their own do not begrudge mothers their special day, they likely love and care for many of the women around them who are standing and are happy to honor them. But having them stand or sit is a painful reminder and public display of their shame in their eyes. The writer is simply saying let’s find a way to honor mothers without making it harder for those who are hurting. At my church this weekend, the pastor made a similar speech to the one above about walking with women in all stages of motherhood, we clapped in appreciation of the mothers and Noone was singled out. I think the mothers were still honored and recognized without adding any additional perceived shame or reminders to those who can’t have kids. I would wager those who are quick to disagree with this are mothers themselves and haven’t gone through the pain of longing for a child they can’t have.

          • MH

            Guess that is true RBB. However, there is far less compassion in the church then there is in the world.

          • Jeannete Howat

            Do you really wish to sound this heartless to this person because that’s the way you come across to me?

          • Ann

            Well said! Our church honours all sorts of people by asking them to stand- Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, those who are graduating, or have been missionaries- not just mothers or fathers. Are we devastated if we are not included in any of those? Honouring different people for different reasons does not mean that the others are disrespected- it is not always about the others! To think it is is self-centered, and these people need love and guidance to learn to not focus so much on themselves. Parenthood is not for everyone- bless those who are, and who are not.

          • Tammy

            It doesnt say anywhere in scripture to have mothers stand up in church..I totally agree with the author. We should honor mothers but that should be reflected in our overall attitude, not some schmaltzy thing we do once a year. The proposed acknowledgement was lovely and could be a model for prayers offered.

            I raised 3 kids and I know how they can find your last nerve. I worked nights and missed sleep, gave birth while my husband was deployed…I really DO get it, but I dont do it for the public honor of standing in church.

            I work professionally with bereaved mothers and there are a lot of them…approx 950,000 a year if you include early loss (which we should) . There are no good reasons to inflict pain on them.

          • MSHOLLI

            Wow. That is the most thoughtless comment I’ve seen. Should The Church not be where we can feel compassion? Should it be the place where we come to have our wounds looked at as unimportant? Because, that’s they way your comment comes across. It’s one thing to feel left out of being honored for being a Sunday School teacher, a pastor, or something that ANYONE who chooses to do could do. But the issues of motherhood are not to be taken lightly.

          • Michael

            @RBB and Cas – That’s a typical response from “the in-crowd” at church. I totally agree with MH on what she was saying about the “family” fallacy of churches. People like you always use the excuse “there’s something wrong with you and not the church” because the church is meeting your needs. Well I’ll tell you something, the church is a hospital for sinners, for the sick, and for the hopeless to celebrate the hope in Christ. If you want to stand up in pride and receive your accalades on a day dictated by the nation and culture, go ahead-you have your reward on earth. The bible is explicit about giving pastor’s “double honor” and still I’ve met some that will eat last at church functions and seat their family in the back. That humility and compassion makes me believe that these are men of God. If standing up and getting your carnation is what you need, then I would suggest examining YOURSELF!! Posted by a married man who’s wife and he have been trying to conceive for years only to experience a painful miscarriage.

          • Fleur

            Wow RBB and Cas. From your posts I think it is safe to say that you have not walked through the absolute hell that is infertility. Read Samuel again…Hannah stopped eating because of the taunts and comments from her husbands other wife for not having kids. That is how you both sound right now. I am thinking you are the selfish ones who cannot extend some grace to women who want to be mothers more than anything. Yes, you can be honoured by your families in your home, even honoured with a special message in church. But for you to want to stand up and make other women feel like their hearts are being ripped out is not only unloving, I dare say it is unchristian.

          • Anne

            RBB, you and those like you are exactly why I quit going to church. This article is about compassion. Becoming a mother is NOT an “accomplishment” or an ‘achievement’ of any kind. The only achievement you get to claim as a mother is if you raise a decent human being who has a heart and compassion for all. Wow, just wow. You’ve only reinforced my belief that I’ll truly find Christ outside of organized religion, where I don’t have to go to church every Sunday and not only think, but KNOW I’m being judged by others.

        • Denise

          I agree with Becky. In the years I had no children, I never once thought this way. We were simply honouring mothers. Wonderful and not a problem. Standing has nothing to do with it. It is the insecurity which is brought out at not be able to stand.

          I completely understand what this young lady is saying, but I also completely disagree. I will not tell a pastor how the church “should” honour mothers. To do so is asking for special treatment on a day that is someone else’s day. It is not done to make those who aren’t mothers uncomfortable.

          To not be able to see that and enjoy others being honoured is the serious problem – but not the Pastor’s. It’s like demanding that a church have a separate bathroom for gender neutral people! Or whatever. This is dangerously close to being “politically correct” and it doesn’t belong in the church. Others can and should be honoured at another time.


          • Amy Young

            Denise, I guess I don’t see this as being politically correct as much as compassionate. But the body of Christ is large enough to hold many opinions 🙂

          • Emily

            In those years that it didn’t bother you not to stand were you trying and failing to get pregnant and adopt? Just curious because I never felt this way until this year when I actually wanted a child but could not have one. Maybe it’s hard to understand if you have never dealt with those feelings. I agree that the shame that those who are left sitting are feeling is more perceived in their own eyes than others judging them but this is the shame and pain they bear every day, mostly silently because it is so painful. I think the hurt described here is not hurt feelings but hurt down inside from longing for a child you can’t have. I think Amy hit the nail on the head below in saying that this is a way to show mercy to theones who feel this way in the body and not an aattempt to rob mothers of their honor.

          • sandra clayton

            I agree with this. We recognize birthdays and anniversaries in our church each week – not everyone has a birthday or anniversary at the same time. Should that recognition be terminated because others cannot be recognized for the same thing? We have military veterans stand sometimes, even though there are people in the congregation who have lost someone in the military … graduates stand, even though there are parents who’ve lost a child who will never graduate … etc. It has never been about “showing up” anyone who could not stand for that particular “thing”.; never about not understanding the pain of another. I have never, ever felt slighted in a service where certain ones were being recognized and asked to stand, while I couldn’t. In our services this morning I fought tears because I’d just gotten some unpleasant news last night about our oldest daughter (an adult), but the thought never crossed my mind that I should resent or feel shameful or be angry at other mothers, as mothers were being recognized, because I had a daughter making a bad decision, while some of the other mothers had no problems with their children. I never, for one moment, thought the Pastor should not be speaking on mothers/motherhood or that Mother’s day shouldn’t be acknowledged because I was feeling sad. My mother is no longer alive, but I don’t wish to have others, who still have their mothers, not be happy and celebrate them. I still celebrate my mother with memories of her. Losing a child, losing a mother, being infertile, etc. IS painful. Not having a child, for whatever reason, should be nothing to feel ashamed about. It is sad, for those who wish to have children, but never shameful. Never a reason to feel “less than”, to get up and leave church. We all suffer some sort of pain – I don’t like to “measure” that pain as one being more painful than another. The important thing is to reach out to each other; to help each other through whatever has happened to cause the pain. To pray with/for each other, “be there” for each other, shed the tears with each other. Reaching out to others to help THEM through their pain helps us to cope with our own. Because of our painful experiences we can often help another going through the same thing. God does tell us to “weep with those who weep” and to “rejoice with those who rejoice”. Weeping doesn’t mean we can’t also rejoice. Rejoicing doesn’t mean we cannot also weep. We should all be able to truly rejoice with those who are being recognized, such as mothers on Mother’s Day; and at the same time, we should all be able to expect others to “weep” with us in our painful times.

          • Susan

            But the fact is, there never is a time to honor single women or childless women for their achievements. My daughter is watching her friends with the rounds of bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, etc. Like motherhood, these are all things to celebrate, but these events just don’t happen for single women, and it’s painful for them.

          • Kim P

            I agree.

            I had one biological child who was stillborn. His name is Gabriel. I became a mom the moment I became pregnant. I do not begrudge my friends whose children are now starting college or getting married…I am happy for them.

            And yes. I stand every year for the Mother’s Day blessing. I AM a mom.

          • Jenn

            Just curious, in those years when you didn’t have kids, did you want them? Were you past the point of being able to have them? Did you worry/know that you likely would not ever have them? Because a 20-something who doesn’t yet have kids is NOT in a position to understand this post. This post is about women who desperately want children and cannot have them – either because they are old enough not to and single or because of some other challenge. There is NOTHING wrong with honoring mothers, but it is NOT okay to forget those who are not. Until you have experienced what this article is talking about, you cannot understand it. It never bothered me when I was young and thought I would marry and have children someday – it was just something I looked forward to. Now, it is a knife through the heart. This article is NOT saying don’t honor mothers; it is saying find a way to do it without shining a spotlight on those who you have deemed not mothers, because godmothers and aunts are NEVER honored on mother’s day, even though they often “mother” as much or more than non-mothers. The woman who gave birth to a child and gave it up because she was 15 is not supposed to stand up (and likely would be shamed if she did so. Those who object to this post clearly enjoy the feeling of praise they get from standing to be admired by all for their accomplishment of motherhood. And yet you call the women who are hurt by it selfish? Really? That need to be admired is also selfish. So, let’s not pretend that those who want the honor of standing are somehow selfless in their desire, here. The difference is, your selifishness is accompanied by the unspeakable joy of motherhood. You get to go home and celebrate with your children, or receive calls/cards from them, or go out to brunch in your honor. Those who had to remain seated for everyone to see – their experience is accompanied by true suffering. Who is the more selfish? Those who are suffering and ask that it stop or those who don’t want their pleasure to end?

            Mother’s can be honored on Mother’s Day without hurting others. A Christian would want to find that balance not demand (from their lofty position of either being male, already having children or genuinely not wanting them) that others endure the grief and pain inflicted by their callous, selfish need for attention to be paid to the “real” mommies.

          • sarah

            As someone who has wanted children ever since I was a small child and frequently has bouts of days or weeks when I ache to have a baby, to exprience motherhood, but cannot because I haven’t found a man with which to have those children yet, I completely disagree with you. I’m not ashamed or embarassed that I can’t stand. I wish I could, but it’s more that the entire day is hard. I want a child with all my heart, but I don’t have one. It’s grief, not shame. I grieve like Hannah for my empty womb and empty arms. I’m glad for you that you have never experienced this pain and the sense of losing something you never had; I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But please, please, PLEASE do not accuse those of us who do grieve on Mother’s Day of simple insecurity. I’m not insecure about my lack of children. It simply causes me pain and sadness. Just as many grieve today because they have lost a mother and the day acutely points this out. Today can be an incredibly difficult day for so many people, not just childless women. The Bible commands that we weep and mourn with those who weep and mourn. Instead of putting down those who find this day difficult, I encourage you to listen to them, to hear their words and to try to feel their pain. Understand that your experience may be different from theirs.

          • sarah

            By the way, I’m a 20-something, and I GET THIS POST. I often cry over my childlessness. I think, “Two more years and I’ll be thirty. Five more after that and I’ll be thirty-five. I don’t have much optimal fertility time left… what if… what if I don’t find a husband in the next two or three years? What if I don’t find him in five? What if I, like my mother, have fertility issues? What if…?” You don’t have to be past childbearing age to get this. You just have to have bearing a child be impossible because of your circumstances.

          • Brian

            Wow RBB and Cas. From your posts I think it is safe to say that you have not walked through the absolute hell that is infertility. Read Samuel again…Hannah stopped eating because of the taunts and comments from her husbands other wife for not having kids. That is how you both sound right now. I am thinking you are the selfish ones who cannot extend some grace to women who want to be mothers more than anything. Yes, you can be honoured by your families in your home, even honoured with a special message in church. But for you to want to stand up and make other women feel like their hearts are being ripped out is not only unloving, I dare say it is unchristian.

        • George Stephenson

          Thank you for being so honest. I will be a good idea to have a good idea to have a good idea to change. It starts now, well technically I am already in the middle of the most important part, and I am excited to see how we can make a new History together. MUCH LOVE!TO ALL

        • MO

          I hear ya! My sentiments exactly, and I could not have said it any better than you did, MH. It’s been a hurtful experience for me to go to church on mother’s day, so I don’t go that day either. I do, however, call my single and childless friends and wish them a happy doggy or kitty (or whatever) mommy day.

        • Wanda G.

          I hear you–and agree with you. My mother is deceased, and I followed scripture and did not sleep around, thereby having no children. The man I should have married never showed up in my life, and so I remain a virgin, and childless: mistrusted, shunned, blamed, suspect, a threat to all married women, shall I go on?? To top it off, I spent many years assisting as music director in churched needing a temp. I was introduced one Mother’s Day by the PASTOR as an “UNCLAIMED BLESSING.” His wife tried out loud to stop
          Him, but he was so certain he’d gotten it perfect that he deflected her, and drove the point home repeatedly, from his pulpit, with his arm squeezing the hell out of my shoulders until
          I grimaced. Jesus help me.

          • A. L. G.

            You did well not to throw a hymnal at his head, sister. P.S. I’m also chaste by choice.

          • Terri

            I agree with you Wanda. I am 57, unmarried, chaste by choice, virgin, … because I choose to date only Christian men. Only to find there are so few of them.
            My church gives all women a small gift on Mother’s Day. They also choose this day for baby dedication, which leaves me in tears. Last year I left early, only to find a young woman in the back hallway feeling the same.
            My church is a good one, but they tend to honor unwed mothers more than those of us who choose to remain chaste. And there are a lot of us. Some of my married friends are sympathetic, but most just avoid it. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or do. Churches are friendly places, unless you’re a single female. Try it sometime and see how you’re treated.
            My own mother has anger issues; and though I planned to be a mother (even listened to Dobson) deep down I was afraid of being just like her. I love children and know it’s hard work to raise them,… I just wanted the chance. I feel so left out.
            Now it will never happen,.. no children, no grandchildren. No legacy. When I am gone, no one will remember… I love my nieces and nephews, but I’m not their mother, so there’s a line I cannot cross.
            Someday Jesus will take the pain away, but until then holidays just represent pain for me. After a good cry, I do something just for me… plant flowers.

      • Sharon

        Wait !!! the answer is sooo simple !!! Every woman who has, or HAD a Mother in their life, or IS a mother, please stand !!

        • Traci

          I think this misses the point entirely. It’s not woman’s day–it’s mother’s day. There are all sorts of days and recognitions that I wish I was a part of that I am not. I think it’s silly to think that having all women stand on mother’s day diminishes the pain of infertility or loss. Perhaps the women sitting, instead of focusing on themselves, could think of the ways they could support the women standing. Infertility already has an entire WEEK. Mothers have a day–let them have it.
          I sincerely enjoy going to church on Mothers Day and standing while our families pray for us. I need all the support I can get in being the mother I want to be. I also pray for all the women who are saddened by Mothers Day, either remembering their mothers that are not with them or thinking of the children they wish they had. But I think when we ask other people to very literally step down because of our own jealousy we might need to take a minute. I am jealous of many women and things that they have or do. But I want to lift them up. I would never ask them to sit so that I don’t have to feel the pain of jealousy.

          • Fleur

            Jealous? You think that that is what this is about? Comments like this make me realize the church has a long way to go reraidng the subject of infertility. Jealous doesn’t even come close. To go through infertility is like having your heart ripped out every month. It’s pleading and begging God for a child, not knowing if it will ever happen. It’s looking at your parents and in-laws and wanting to make them grandparents so bad it hurts, but you can’t. It’s wondering whether God is punishing you. Crying when bad people hurt their kids or reading about abortions when you would have adopted that child in a heartbeat. It’s every cell and fibre of your being screaming, longing to be a mother. It’s growing so close to God and hanging on to Him while you are in one of the worst kinds of suffering you can imagine and then, in that safe place, where you meet and worship God, in the place where you should be able to feel safe and connected is where they shine a big spotlight on you and say: NOT YOU!

          • Sue

            Infertility has an entire week? Pray tell what are you talking about & referring to, every Sunday in mothers day in church. The church worships at the throne of family.

          • An

            Sure. National Infertility Awareness Week happens a few weeks before Mother’s Day, but hardly anyone knows because there is so much shame around outing oneself as infertile. There aren’t TV commercials, card sections in the store, constant social media reminders about NIAW for an entire month like there are for Mother’s Day. This is a complicated subject and I won’t get into the rest of your comment, but comparing NIAW to Mother’s Day is too ridiculous to ignore.

        • Wanda G.

          I don’t mind others celebrating — but I cannot, and am exhausted of being humiliated. They can celebrate without me,’it’s best.

      • Mo

        I read this earlier and have been thinking about it quite a bit today and thought I would share my thoughts here as so many others have. It seems to me that the only way to properly honor the moms on Mother’s Day,(from your perspective and that of other non-moms), would be to do something to make it a little less obvious in distinguishing who the moms are vs the non-moms. While I get the compassion for those that are unable to have children,it should not take away from the honor and sacrifice many moms do on a daily basis. This is just one day to say a big thank you to them for what is on many days of the year a thankless job. It is a reminder, because sometimes we all need a little reminder, of all the hardwork that goes into being a mom 24/7. Let all moms feel wonderful on that day. As anyone knows, most moms are compassionate people and truly feel for others who want children that Don’t have them for whatever reason. I have a sister in law that went through in-vitro 2 times and failed. I talked with her many,many times about it and cried with her. When I got pregnant she had requested that I tell her separately, which I did. I was unable to announce it to my family all at once because it would hurt her. I respected that. It is now twelve years later and she still tries to make me feel bad about having celebrations for my child or that I could have children and she couldn’t. I see similar issues in the comments here. No one should feel bad about their situation whether it is being a mom or childless. If you are unable to move past this and keep going in a positive way in your life then professional help might be needed. It is not healthy to agonize all that time. Find a positive outlet, whether it be working with a charity that involves kids or something else. I can try to understand how hard it must be, but please don’t feel the need to lessen the honor by not pointing out who the people that may need to be recognized on that one day that is theirs. One persons happiness may be another’s time of challenge, but that is true of all of us in every walk of life. Be happy for the other people instead of carrying the hurt on yourself.

      • Kristi


        I agree with you. My mother died when I was 9 (and that’s not even acknowledged in Amy’s letter) and I think about her every Mother’s Day. I long for her, and I honor who she was. I am a mother myself but even before I was, I honored others mothers. I ‘adopted’ many of my friends moms and honored them as well.

        On Veterans Day we ask those who served to stand up. I’m sure there are many who wanted to serve but couldn’t for medical reasons or other reasons.

        We ask teachers to stand to acknowledge them. I know many who wanted to be teachers and just never made it happen. It may have been financial reasons, or because they became mothers/parents but there was a block in their path of some sort.

        We have doctors and nurses stand sometimes to honor them. Police or Firefighters may be asked to stand to be honored and there are always those who couldn’t pass a test to get into the FD/PD club.

        There are all kinds of reasons to acknowledge people and all kinds of reasons people wish their lives are different. Never once did I even think about not honoring the mothers of my friends or others who have accomplished something in fear of offending those who haven’t. We can’t live in fear of offending someone. We are to be thankful for what we do have and fear nothing.

        Sure, I get it. But we’ve become so sensitive to what people ‘might’ think or feel we’ve become callused to those who also many need a little boost for 5 minutes once a year. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    • JS

      Agree with you completely. It is sad that we can’t honor anyone in our society because it might offend someone else.

      • Ann

        Yes you have said it well…. I feel like we must always walk on eggshells because somewhere, somehow someone will not like what we do, say, or believe. Enough!

      • MSHOLLI

        The author isn’t suggesting that we don’t honor mothers. She’s suggesting that while we honor them, we also remember our compassion for those who are hurting.

        • Karen

          Exactly, MSHOLLI. This is about compassion. This is about loving women who have hearts that are hurting in the worst way. Unless someone has gone through this kind of hurt themselves, they just don’t get it. These precious women face this hurt every single day if they are unable to conceive, have had a loss, etc. To be in a place (church) where they should find some comfort yet experience exactly the opposite – hurt piled on hurt – is even worse. This isn’t about being “correct” or non-offensive, this is about being loving to those who desperately need love.

          Last year the moms were asked to stand in our church. I sat there, knowing I was carrying a baby with no heartbeat in my womb. I could hardly breathe. I thought I would be able to make it through the church service, but I couldn’t do it. I cannot describe the pain in my heart and the guilt I felt for going to my car and crying, unable to go back into the service.

          Compassion…it’s about compassion.

      • sarah

        Pain is different from offense. I’m all about honoring mothers. But if we can do it in a way that also remembers those who long to be mothers, those who have lost children, and those who have lost mothers, we do better. My church today honored all those women who have a heart for raising up the next generation to honor God… all those who “mother”. I stood, sobbing, clinging to my own mother, as my pastor read the part of this article that does exactly that. It was a beautiful thing. Compassion goes a long way. It’s not that we can’t honor anyone, and I don’t think the author EVER expressed offense. Pain and offense is not the same thing. Please, please, have a heart of compassion for those who may feel like this day, for whatever reason, is like twisting a knife in their heart. That is what the article is asking. The Christlike response would not be, “Geez, we have to walk on eggshells for everybody!” but “How can I ease your pain, hurting sister?”

    • Gayle

      Becky, I would agree that we should not neglect honoring all mothers. That honor and recognition is so deserved! However, I think a closer reading of what Amy wrote will reveal that she does indeed advocate honoring mothers. The difference is in how it’s done; surely having all mothers stand isn’t the only way of showing honor.
      As a non-mom myself, I’m all for publicly and specifically honoring mothers on Mothers’ Day…maybe not by standing, though, but definitely with a show of honor, gratitude, and respect.
      I’ll admit that more than once I’ve avoided church on Mother’s Day. It’s just too painful. I’m not saying that’s a good thing to do. I’m just being honest.

      • Argie

        The whole issue in my opinion is about being other centered and pride. To honor half the church at the expense of the others, there is no example of Jesus doing this in the scriptures. Also,Mother’s day is a Hallmark holiday,why are we over celebrating this commercial holiday in the church and deeply hurting half of the women in the body of Christ? I doubt Jesus would have put Martha and Mary in this position in the synagogue. Jesus honored and validated all women – even prostitutes and adulterers. This is an issue that has cut to the soul of women for centuries, just ask Hannah or Rachel to name a few.

          • Fleur

            Yes it does. And if you are a mom or a women who doesn’t want children you have no idea.

        • Diane

          Exactly Argue. I’m horrified by some of the judgemental comments on this thread and grateful for the compassionate ones. The Church does indeed worship the family. Often if you’re over 50 you’re left with flower arranging or babysitting. I have not attended a Mother’s Day service at Church for 18 years because of what I refer to as ‘daffodilgate’. This is nothing about being self centred or jealous, what an ignorant understanding of pain and grief. Literally, thank God for Jesus who shows us how to live and treat each other and who has no heirarchy when it comes to families. We live in a broken world, illness or our physicality happens in a broken world, not because we are being punished or not as good as others. In Church so much can be spiritualised with bad theology, like you’re not praying hard enough, not enough faith, your husband will come along when you are ready for him! I’m so grateful that God never leaves us and that He has helped me retain my sense of humour. This is a great article and should be adopted by men and women pastors, vicars and Church leaders who have love and compassion for all their Church family and who want to lead in a healing and holistic way,

    • Amber

      “However, they also need to be able to get their eyes off their own longings and be able to honor mothers… who work hard and sacrifice and are in the trenches every day trying to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

      When you lose 5 children to miscarriage and have to wonder, “Do I sit, or do I stand when they hand out the flowers” and dread going to the service for months because you worry you will end up crying and taking away from the celebration of others, but so badly want to worship God from your place of poverty, then you can talk about what women without children should do. Otherwise, that comment is completely insensitive and hurtful. Thank you, for being such a compassionate Christian on a week when I am hurting deeply and grieving. I hope you’ll change your tune and decide to be more kind in the future to women without children who are grieving deeply, day after day, year after year. Please be kind.

      Even Jesus, on his way to the cross, stopped to recognize the difficulty that barren women struggle with. On His way to his death, he stopped and recognized our pain:
      “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then “they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us.”

      It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about mourning with those who mourn. You can rejoice with those who rejoice, while still considering the feelings of others. I have a friend who has had several miscarriages like me AND has lost her mom. There are so many stories out there like that, and the church needs to be a place of comfort and refuge for us, not a place that we fear going to once a year. Please be more considerate in the future. Thank you and God bless you.

      • Amy Young

        Amber, five miscarriages. Five. I just want to stop for a moment and let that number soak into me.

        So much hope dashed. I’m sorry for your lost children.

        This is one of the most thoughtful answers. Thank you for helping to expand and inform my theology of suffering.

      • Dawn

        God bless you Amber. I can’t even imagine your pain. I went through a miscarriage with my sister and it was horrific. They just don’t know angel.

      • Kim P

        I am sorry for the loss of your 5 children through miscarriage. My only biological child was stillborn at 33 weeks. My husband and I became foster parents when it became clear I could not safely carry a pregnancy to term.

        But I stand every year for the Mother’s Day blessing. Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t you? Life begins at conception, not birth. Your children, I believe, are whole in heaven, simply waiting for you.

        You ARE a mom. Go ahead and claim the beautiful role that it is.

      • Diane

        You have put that beautifully and I believe what you have so generously shared out if a painful place, will have the power to soften hearts and give understanding. I’m so sorry that you have experienced this level of loss and wish you all the love in the world. I believe you will meet your babies in heaven, you are their mum and I believe you will be reunited with them. xxx

    • Dee

      I agree wholeheartedly with Becky, and couldn’t have said it better. In fact I can’t. I completely understand how childless women feel on a day like Mother’s Day, I myself am a step-mum with no children of my own (something no-one can understand, even other step-mum’s because every relationship is different and in step-families they are exaggerated – step-mum’s have all the work and non of the recognition), however the modern culture is to look to ‘me’, instead of ‘we’ the body of Christ. People with only one arm rejoice that they have a working arm! One body. We need to encourage and honour mothers for the selfless work they do and the unconditional love they give, which is why the day was created by the church in the first place. Being in any of these categories who are hurting is painful and saddening, but we need to deal with our emotions, take them to God. Cry, scream, throw yourself on your bed and pour your heart out to Him, then come and celebrate with a refreshed heart. This day isn’t about women, it isn’t about me, it isn’t about you. It’s about mothers. Celebrate the wonderful work these women are doing and encourage them to continue to raise their children in God’s will. My comments may sound harsh, but we need to stop focusing on ourselves. God can heal a broken heart, but He doesn’t expect us to wallow in self-pity. Would I not honour my mum and celebrate her because I am not one? It doesn’t make sense. Other cultures go further by having all mothers on stage and giving them gifts, food and money. All we do is ask them to stand for a clap. Mother’s day causes a lot of mixed emotions for me personally, but they are separate to the emotions I have for my mum and other wonderful mums. I love celebrating others! Our focus should not be ourselves.

      • MH

        This is exactly why I stopped going to church. So much phoniness.” Suck it up . rah rah rah…don’t reveal your hurts because you must have a fake smile and pretend that everything is good” comments.Keep your pain at home because the church does not want to deal with your hurt. The church is not a “Pat you on the back” place. It is to help heal the broken hearted and the sick. It’s mandate is to look after the orphaned and the widows and the hurting and the lost. It is not about singling out the successful and their accomplishments . It is about singling out the lost and hurting and helping them on their path to know God. It is about honouring GOD!!! not about honouring man( or women)

        • Ann

          Church is for the worship of Christ with other Believers as He has called us to do….that is and should be the focus. All else is gravy! If your focus is on the people while you are there, you are there for the wrong reason, IMHO… I remember doing the same thing- it took me a while to realize that this time was not a focus on me, or my family or friends or fellow attenders and it was wrong to make it so. It was a huge burden off my shoulders when I caught on.

          • Fleur

            Do you know what is worship Ann? It is praising God while you are going through hell and you know He can give you a child in a blink of an eye and end the hell, yet you stubbornly and faithfully continue to love, praise and worship Him.

      • Diane

        “Wallow in self-pity’
        Shame on you!

        And as for “cry, scream, throw yourself on the bed…” Yes, that’s what many do after the Church Mother’s Day flower humiliation.

    • Marlene

      I agree. I have had childless Mothers Days and have had many friends and family who have had painful Sunday mornings of not standing. But standing is how people are honored in the church – not only mothers, but fathers, those who have served our country, and others. It can be hard to sit and watch someone else stand up and be recognized for something you haven’t, or simply can’t, achieve. But we are a part of Gods family, and I choose to honor those who stand, simply because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And if we get strictly physical, what about the mothers who mother from their wheelchair or walker? They can’t stand on their own, and honoring them is simply a privilege. And I want to see my own mother, now also a grandmother, stand. I would not take that away from any mother, father, or serviceman or woman simply because they have what I don’t. May this brief recognition, only once a year, not bring division and selfishness to our hearts, but thankfulness for the blessings God has given His children – even if it is not our own blessing to enjoy. And may all of us who have accepted Christ as our savior stand redeemed together.

      • Laura

        Really? I’ve never heard of having various people stand in church so we can honour them… I thought I went to church to worship and honour God.

    • Lauren

      “However, do we avoid honoring mothers for the sake of the feelings of non-mothers? What other achievements should we decide not to honor for the sake of those who have not achieved them?”

      “Achieving” motherhood is not difficult. And mothers do not deserve honor just for the “achievement” of having sex and producing a baby. Good mothers should be honored–and will be honored inherently by the fruits of their labor (both literal and figurative). My mother often said that she didn’t want a “day” to receive chocolates and breakfast in bed. She’d be happier if we showed that kind of care and respect every day–if we picked up our socks on a daily basis, didn’t talk back to her, told her we loved her, etc. There’s more than one way to honor a mother–and Mother’s Day is simply a construct we’ve picked that will never die because of it’s commercial viability. And I think it’s worthwhile to note that Mother’s Day–as it’s celebrated–makes some women feel sad. Those of us who feel sad on Mother’s Day are just asking for a little sensitivity. I’m truly sorry if that request puts a damper on anyone’s day–but honestly, you get to be a mother 365 days a year and have kids that love you, hopefully for life. And isn’t that the true reward of being a mom?

      • Barbara

        Well said. The Ten Commandments say, “Honor they father and mother.” Not, buy them a card on mother’s day and have them stand in church to receive acclaim at others’ expense. Those who are Aunts, Godmothers, Stepmothers, Neighbors, Teachers, Nurses, etc share in the mothering of children and people in general yet are not “CHOSEN” to stand. As a person who has suffered repeated miscarriages for over a decade, I have avoided Church on Mother’s Days when I felt my emotions were too raw and I would break down because the pain of a recent miscarriage would be too intense. I have not avoided thanking my own Mother and Mother in law and celebrating with my sisters who are Mothers by acknowledging them. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging people, but it’s HOW you do it that is key. My Mom always says, I don’t want a flower, it will die. Give me a tree that I can plant in my yard to grow. Yet my mother in law wants a bouquet of roses which will wilt in a few days. We all have our wants and wishes. As an unappreciated stepmom but a very appreciated Aunt and sometimes appreciated Godmother, I voice my opinion today for the hurting women for whom God has another plan. When my sister asks me to watch my nephew or take him to an event she cannot attend, I do it, if I can, and I am mom for a day or a moment. It’s what God has in store for me at this moment. The other 364 days go back to my sister. But I still have to respect my Mom 365. I do not have to buy her a card, though I do, and I do not have to stand or sit if I choose not to have a Man, (Priest) appointed by God, give acclaim 1 day a year for the glory I should be giving to God 365 and the respect I should give to my parents all year long.

    • Sara

      You have brought to light the reasons why I believe Mothers’ Day shouldn’t be celebrated at church at all. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are God’s children, sinners saved by grace, and this should be the unifying theme of every gathering, no matter what the calendar says. Any time we focus our attention on the characteristics that make us different from each other, we risk divisions and hurt feelings.

      >>>”What other achievements should we decide not to honor for the sake of those who have not achieved them?”

      With all due respect to mothers, becoming a mother isn’t an achievement in the same way that, say, graduating from high school is an achievement. Although it’s unquestionably a lot of hard work, it’s not something you can earn by working hard. If working hard was all you had to do, there wouldn’t be nearly as many non-mothers. Motherhood is a GIFT. IT comes from God, who gives it to some women and also withholds it from many who desire it greatly. And when you receive a gift that you know others have not received, the appropriate response is to thank the giver and then enjoy the gift in a manner that calls more attention to the generosity of the giver than the deserving nature of the receiver.

      >>>”The bottom line is, yes – the Bible tells us to weep with them that weep, but it also tells us to rejoice with them that rejoice. Sometimes that’s a lot harder – but when we can’t, we need to examine our hearts carefully. ”

      I would assume that tomorrow your own family will be celebrating the gift you are to them, as they should! I hope you have a wonderful day. But are you saying that your celebration will be incomplete unless you are also publicly recognized for your motherhood in a manner that alienates and excludes so many of God’s other daughters, many of whom you know are suffering deeply? If so, then perhaps your own heart could use some examining.

      • Breana

        Exactly–the achievements being compared to having mothers stand are all things people actually had a choice to do or not do. But becoming a mom isn’t necessarily a choice. And many who would choose it if they could never get to. As for honoring the moms, must they stand? If we don’t know who they are without them identifying themselves, how about raising hands? Much less awkward to be the only one without a little raised hand than to be the only adult female in the building who is seated. Or what about honoring all those who have mothered and nurtured others? I would like to honor my mother without having my own singleness and childlessness thrown in my face. It’s not that I can’t feel glad for those who are mothers. But my own situation in life is something I must constantly give over to God, again and again. Must honoring my mother involve poking an ice pick into the most tender place in my heart?

    • ZindziZenani

      ITA…as someone said, “this day isn’t about women. Its about mothers.” What’s wrong with honoring them? Let’s take our eyes off of our own feelings and leave behind these archaic notions that to be a womban and not a mother means something negative about you. You are still ridiculously awesome, but you’re not a mother. That’s ok. Be happy, and most importantly pray, for those who are.

    • Michelle

      Becky , Mother’s day is a secular day. Mother’s do have a special role we all know and acknowledge that but it is about being sensitive to those who have mixed feelings. I feel you need to think about all the different situations that those people face that can cause such mixed emotions. It is not about diminishing the role of mothers. We should never ever make anyone feel inadequate in church. EVER…… It is not as easy as you say, it is not about getting over it and moving on and taking your eyes off self…. There are ebbs and flows, good and bad, crying and laughing, rejoicing and weeping… it all comes in being real and honest, not some hallmark day that never measures up. I appreciate the prayers that Amy listed…. I feel you are being shortsighted in your compassion toward those who are hurting.

    • Stephanie

      Becky, I agree that we do need to specifically honor mothers, and you make a good point about not forgoing recognition simply because someone, somewhere, might be hurt. Your post makes it clear that you have compassion for those who are not mothers and are in pain because of it. Bless you for your compassion.

      There may be something that you haven’t considered, however, that adds to the pain of non-mothers on mothers day. There is a tendency in a number of churches, maybe not yours, to laud mothers to the point of de-legitimizing other life paths. It is difficult to be a Christian sometimes when you either haven’t chosen or haven’t had the opportunity to choose motherhood. Many see us as either “mothers-in-waiting” of no real value to society yet, or as failures or less-than for not being mothers. I believe that part of the value of this article is re-legitimizing other paths of life for women. Women can be whole, complete human beings of great value to society without kids. Mothers do, of course, sacrifice a great deal, and good mothers are absolutely essential for our society. They deserve all the recognition in the world. But, it must be understood that churches tend to honor mothers all the time, with words and actions. Non-mothers are hardly afforded recognition in the church for contributing to the body of Christ and the world. That is why it is more painful to be singled out as a non-mother than it is for other types of recognition (and especially so for those who have lost children or are unable to have them; they are not “legitimate” in the eyes of some simply because they’re not lucky enough to be blessed with children). Thus, honoring mothers in the way Amy suggests is, I believe, a superb way to continue to honor mothers while recognizing that all women have value, something that is too rarely said.

      Let me reiterate that you clearly do not feel this way. Some do, however, and it would understandably be hard to see how difficult it is for non-mothers if you haven’t lived that experience. Thank you for being willing to listen to an experience from another woman. 🙂

    • Julieann

      “What other achievements should we decide not to honor for the sake of those who have not achieved them”

      Motherhood is not an achievement. God is His perfect will for us has given us many different blessings and burdens in our lives. Motherhood can be and is both to many people, as is growing old with young longings never satisfied.

    • Erica

      Becky this is exactly what I was thinking. As sisters in Christ we should be able to celebrate each other without our eyes being on our own feelings. I have 4 children and I praise God for them, however, I have and have always had a desire to go back to school for my Bachelors degree in nursing but with each child born that dream has become almost a vapor. My church celebrates graduates twice a year and each time I just say silently to myself that the Lord has a plan for me too and I am not forgotten and I applaud and celebrate my brothers and sisters in Christ for their hard work and achievement.
      Praising one person does not mean that the one not honored on that day is any less.

    • Kate

      One Mother’s Day they were giving flowers to all the moms. I was handed a flower and then the female who was passing it out exclaimed she forgot and took it back saying they may not have enough for the real mothers. I have not attended church on MD since. It can be so hurtful to infertile women. I think it is best to not do anything that would exclude anyone if you wish to be an inclusive church.

    • Susan

      Let me say, before I get started, that the article was heart-felt and well-written and certainly made some good points. It also helped to give a nod to others who struggle at this time. Yet, I see it in another way. To me, articles like this, (however heart-felt and well meaning) are like asking the rest of us to not celebrate in certain ways because it makes them feel bad. Well, I feel like they are looking at it all wrong. They are looking at it backward.

      It reminds me of the articles similar to this one that come out around Valentines Day, while people celebrate their love the ones without significant others skulk in a corner demeaning all things ‘valentiney’. We need to learn to revel in other people’s joy rather than ask them to tone it down so they don’t hurt my feelings on this day or that day. In other words, if you weren’t able to have children, be happy for those who do. If your child died, be happy for those whose children still live. If your mother has passed away, be happy for the time you had with her and celebrate her.

      Mother’s Day is a time for a celebration, not a time to have to worry that one person’s celebration is going to offend someone else. It’s all a part of that political correctness that is so ridiculous. People need to stop finding ways to be upset about something, let go, and revel in other peoples joy rather than asking other people to commiserate with whatever is making them sad. Sorry, not everyone fits into the same shell, the same mold…everyone has different circumstances.. and trying to touch on every single person’s story can cause stress.

      Mother’s Day and those who celebrate it, those who offer Mother’s Day wishes and those who try to recognize mothers on that day, are sending nothing but love out into the Universe and don’t mean any harm to anyone else. If some people feel sad or bad on that day, that is on THEM. THEY are responsible for their own happiness, their own sadness and how they are feeling. THEY can choose happiness or sadness. The world is not responsible to make sure they don’t offend them. THEY are responsible to make sure their own selves are not offended. When the world gives energy to their sorrow when they try to commiserate with them it only increases the sadness in the world.

      We have to stop demanding the world coddle us and acknowledge us in all things and all circumstances. We have to let go of bitterness and sorrow and find joy, it is in us all. Happiness is not something that happens to us. It is a choice.

      • Cheri

        Celebrating with others and feeling pain that you cannot enter in that celebration yourself are not mutually exclusive. I love giving my mom extra thank yous and hugs on Mother’s Day. I am thrilled for friends who are acknowledged on one day for all the other days that they work hard at what is often a thankless job and yet one of the most important.

        But that does not diminish the fact that I have longed to be a Mom to my own child for 10 years, and yet God has not seen fit to bless me that way yet. It is a daily battle of leaving my longing in the hands of God, waiting expectantly for an answer. Mother’s Day can be excruciatingly painful even while I celebrate with others. If you have never experienced infertility or pregnancy loss, please do not pretend to understand the very deep hurt we feel. It is not jealousy or self-pity or political correctness. It is a wound that is not yet healed, and sometimes becomes unbearably painful again (for a variety of reasons).

    • JJ


      I would like to remind you that not all motherhood is an “achievement.” Having been a teacher and school administrator for many years, I have met countless students and parents whose parenthood came by accident, and whose parenting skills were not something they chose to develop or cherish. Do they get to stand up at church, too? I don’t think that the ability to become impregnated and push a baby from your loins is necessarily an achievement. That would make pooping an achievement, too.

      Who and what should our mother’s day celebrations honor?


    • Brian

      “Wow RBB and Cas. From your posts I think it is safe to say that you have not walked through the absolute hell that is infertility. Read Samuel again…Hannah stopped eating because of the taunts and comments from her husbands other wife for not having kids. That is how you both sound right now. I am thinking you are the selfish ones who cannot extend some grace to women who want to be mothers more than anything. Yes, you can be honoured by your families in your home, even honoured with a special message in church. But for you to want to stand up and make other women feel like their hearts are being ripped out is not only unloving, I dare say it is unchristian.”

      This kind of insensitivity is why people leave the faith, too. People saying “anytime someone gets honored, like the setup crew and I’m not a part of it, it doesn’t bother me.”

      Totally different ballgame. This runs much deeper.

    • Sunny

      I completely agree with you, Becky. Although, I have to say, this article and some of the comments are getting under my skin. Single people have no idea how much sacrifice and hard work goes into being a good mother. I remember thinking like they do when I was in my 20’s and still single. Not every situation is the same, but at the heart of it I was selfish & self-absorbed. If you can’t rejoice or recognize other mothers without jealousy/envy then you need to examine your heart. Pray for God to help you. If you’re having a hard time because of losing a child, or because you can’t have children, then that’s a different situation. Try to talk to someone at church about it, ask them to pray with you. Take the time that you need to work through it. Just don’t deny mothers the honor that they deserve. For the others, I’m sure that you have jobs where you are rewarded for your time and effort. Even if it’s just with a paycheck. Motherhood is very often a thankless “job.” You don’t get raises, you don’t get paid at all. There is little recognition for anything that you do. So please don’t deny them this, too.

    • Emma

      In baffled disagreement with some of this Christian hypocrisy…

      To Becky:
      Your feelings, like all the other stated above, are valid to be felt. However, you speak of childless women needing to “get their eyes off their own longings”. With all due respect, that is the most selfish thing I have read on this blog. You have no idea what this “longing” entails. You have no idea how much pain childless women hold in their hearts. Your self-sacrifices for your healthy children are absolutely nothing compared to this. The ability to have children is one of our society’s most fundamental things about “being a real woman”. Childless women are ostracized, seen as not whole and consequently, deep down, many are forced to feel this way about themselves. Whatever sugar-coating you add to your statement, your selfish view give Christianity a bad name.

      To Dee: I quote you: “People with only one arm rejoice that they have a working arm!” Do you live under a rock? Thank you for this absurd statement; it made me laugh through the pain of truth.

      Before you get defensive, ask yourself this: God teaches empathy and selflessness, so why won’t you be the one who tries to live up to this? Why are you putting this responsibility on childless women and yet presume to speak of what God wants?

      I have recently had breast cancer and after a year of hell am on anti-estrogen medication to save my life. I may not be able to have children. I am very involved in the lives of my sister’s young children so I understand how hard it is in the trenches. I get your compulsion to be honored for your personal sacrifices. These rob you of your ability to do whatever you want to, but your “suffering” is nothing compared to these women’s. You have the children you want and obviously with that comes hard work. This is absolutely trivial compared to trying to keep the pain at bay and your self esteem up day after day, the way these women have to. I implore you to wake the hell up.

      You pretend to understand this. You very clearly don’t. You talk about God and His mercy, about what God wants. Try for a few seconds to put yourself in their shoes, if you can fathom this.

      If you don’t pretend to understand God, that’s fine. But if you do, women up, put in some emotional effort and don’t be a selfish hypocrite.

  • Ruth A Moore

    Amy, I sat in on your pastor chat and applaud you! Well spoken. Thank you for speaking up! Blessings, and prayers as you remember your Dad. My Dad’s “graduation” came March 24th and while I am so thankful for his place with Jesus, I miss him more than I ever dreamed possible. Your own pressing on encourages me. Thank you,

  • Jackie

    Thank you so much for sharing this today! God has blessed our lives with two beautiful children. He brought us together through the miracle of adoption. Before that point, we had many disappointments. Mother’s Day was often very painful for me.
    I just shared my “Mother’s Day” feelings with a fellow mom this morning, after our children left for school. I’m glad to “be” a mom (and I’m so blessed!); however, Mother’s Day still brings back twinges of pain for those that do not fit the “Hallmark holiday” that is often presented in the world. It seems confusing, but it’s because of what you have brought out in this article. And, while I know that my own mom is now with Jesus, I miss her terribly.
    We are so blessed to have a pastor that understands how to handle Mother’s Day. Thank you for sharing this “open letter.” It needs to be said and we need to be reminded each year. All women are treasures! And, we are loved by a God who sees our pain, and can enter into it.

    • Amy Young

      Jackie, what I LOVE about your comment is the way it expresses the tension many of us live with. Blessed (oh yes, so blessed we are!) … “however.” We can be both at the same time, can’t we? One of the greatest lies I think Satan has sown is that we are either totally blessed or totally miserable and when our realities are more nuanced and messy than that, we don’t quite know what to do. :). God has blessed you (and me) and our pain is present as well. I love that God has hands big enough to hold all the pieces of my life 🙂

  • Debbie

    Thank you for this. As I have set through these days also feeling awkward not so much for myself but knowing what others had gone through. It broke my heart and may I say to those churches that give plants or whatever to special categories that should be rethought also.

    • Amy Young

      Debbie, yes, just yes. From what I’ve seen the last two years, I think this message IS getting out there. Honor, mark, celebrate, yes, oh yes! But maybe a few small changes would go a long way 🙂

  • Kristy Jensen

    I totally get this. I have 3 little boys and one in heaven. I feel bad for the women who don’t get to “stand up” on Mother’s Day and be honored. But, I also get that we should be celebrated. We mother’s work hard raising little ones each and every day. We go days without a shower, years without sleep, weeks without a hot meal b/c we are tending to everyone else’s needs and leave ours for last. I know that it can be hurtful to feel alienated (I have been there and it is no fun) but instead of seeing what we don’t have, perhaps we should focus on what we do have. Maybe we should spend the day celebrating our own mother’s who sacrificed so much for us, or a grandmother, or a sister, or a friend. They need support and encouragement as well. I think people have a negative attitude toward Mother’s Day but we all have a mother…whether here with us or in heaven.

    • Amy Young

      Kristy, yes, yes, yes to the sacrificial ways mothers serve and the ways that NEEDS to be acknowledged. I guess all I’m after is finding ways to do just that — and somehow the standing has gotten in the way of honoring because it’s awkward for so many mom’s and non-mom’s. I think a few small changes can result in, paradoxically, greater honor for moms.

      • Kristy Jensen

        I have been that mother who sat childless on Mother’s Day due to miscarriage. I just don’t know what the point on your post here is. I love reading this blog normally but this has changed my opinion about what she allows on her blog. I understand being childless but that does not make me angry toward God or depressed. It makes me all the more grateful for the mother’s who are in the trenches each day. I now have 3 little boys and I can’t thank God enough. I guess I see life through a different lens and try not to focus on myself while in church. I think we should honor people in our church body…mother’s, father’s, veterans, graduates, etc. This just seems a little “politically correct” to me. We need to focus more on Jesus and less on our own needs and losses in life. Afterall, God gave up his only Son for our sins…just a thought.

        • MSHOLLI

          I don’t think this is about being politically correct at all. I think it’s about having compassion for those who are hurting. She’s not saying to stop honoring mothers. She’s simply suggesting that we find a way to do so that both celebrates motherhood, but shows compassion for those who are hurting. Isn’t that what we should do? Show compassion?
          I understand the not realizing that it’s hurtful. But, when we know that it hurts, shouldn’t we show compassion?

  • Marty

    Yes! Yes! Yes! When we were living through infertility, this was a killer. Now, I relish being mother to my children, but I still cringe at the coming of the second Sunday in May.

  • Steph

    I obviously am not a pastor, but your post has so much love & wisdom for all of us. Thank you; I have gleaned much!

  • Carlotta

    So everyone has to change a one day celebration because it isn’t celebrating this women? In fact she has provided instructions to change something that has nothing to do with her so that it will include her, whether anyone else wants to or not?

    Maybe we should never congratulate anyone on their anniversary or the birth of their child either? It might make singles and the childless uncomfortable. We shouldn’t celebrate Father’s Day either. Some people don’t have one. Oh, yes. No more communion. I am low carb and it really upsets me that an alternative is not offered.

    Or maybe not ever single day is about every single person.

    • Amy Young

      Carlotta, I hope you’ve had a chance to read through the comments and heard the personal journeys people have been on. We are advocating honoring, just wondering if there might not be more effective ways to honor moms.

    • Amber

      It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about having compassion and considering ways that you can mourn with those who mourn while still being able to rejoice with those who rejoice. It’s not about being offended, it’s about literally crying your eyes out for weeks, wondering, “How do I got to church? I want so badly to worship God and put him first, but I don’t know if I can do it without falling apart.” By the way, I’ve lost 5 babies to miscarriage in the last 3 years. It’s a pain you can’t understand until you’ve lived through it. And I sat home last year and avoided church and it did no good. I suffered from suicidal thoughts because I felt so alone in my grief. The church, can choose to be a place of comfort and support for those of us who feel like we can’t survive another day through this painful journey.

      Please be kind. If you’re a Christian, others on the outside are watching, and you’re ability to be compassionate can make a huge difference in leading someone to Christ. God bless you

      • Melody

        What a wonderful response you have given. I just wanted to let you know I have been in your shoes. Praying that tomorrow will be gentle on you and that God will continually remind you he is there through it all.

    • MH

      Mother’s Day started in 1905 by one woman who wanted to honour “her” mother. It was then commercialized by Hallmark. It was meant to honour our own mother not to “demand honour” and recognition “as a mother”. So that is a wrong philosophy .Is it meant to be in the church at all??? yes…you should HONOUR THY mother,,,and your children should honour YOU, their mother. But where does it say that it is supposed to be a whole service in the church? Before Hallmark came along, do you really think that the first century Christians had a special thank you to mothers only??? No…the purpose of church is to come together and worship God – only. You , as a mother, should always be honoured ..(especially by your children)…But ,so should every other person in the church be honoured ….and respected. No one should be singled out in the church.

      • Diane

        You captured (better than I could) the overarching feeling I have about this. Thanks! I sometimes wonder if the church should be celebrating any holidays/remembrances other than the ones specified in scripture. Probably not. But if they didn’t, there would certainly be another kind of backlash. *sigh* Just can’t win!

        I am part of a small home group and thankfully, tomorrow I will not have to wrestle with painful feelings like others have expressed (although there have certainly been moments like these at other times–nobody’s fault really–because I’m almost 50 and never married). There won’t be any standing up, flowers passed out, and probably not even a mention of the holiday. Families will, of course, do what they want to for their mothers…as I will for mine.

  • Jamie

    Thank you for this!! While a mom of two boys now, I remember these feelings while dealing with years of IF. This brought tears to my eyes, as I tried to read the whole thing. Thank you for sharing

  • Maxine

    What about a woman or “girl” who regrettably had an abortion. When she was young and did not realise what she was doing. But since has given her life to the Lord, but is still having much guilt, wishing she could have another chance at mothering that child? I know a few woman like that.

  • Linda

    I found this column to be dishonoring of mothers. We are told to honor thy father and thy mother and all she can focus on is her own self-pity. It seems to me to be a letter about selfishness on the part of the writer. Life does not always go as WE want it, but for believers, it always goes as HE wants it. We need to learn contentment in whatever God has provided in our lives and if that includes being childless or maybe even being single, then so be it. Learn to rejoice in it and live the life that God has designed for YOU. However, do not expect others to bow down to your hurt feelings, instead, turn to God and ask for forgiveness for the sour attitude and dishonor that was (is) in your heart. Ask God to help you to live your own life to the fullest for HIS sake.
    Having feelings of sorrow or maybe inadequacy are normal for us as humans, but when we expect others to change or do things differently to save our hurt feelings, it becomes sinful.
    God Bless.

    • Amy Young

      Oh Linda, if this were about self-pity you are right on!! My heart (and I’d say many of the commenters) IS to honor mothers. We all have limits and freedoms — and the limits point us to God (who is unlimited. They remind us we are not God.). God is amazing. And his heart for women with infertility comes through again and again in the scripture. I so appreciate God didn’t turn a blind eye to women’s pain! He is worthy of so much praise, isn’t he?!!

    • Amber

      You should go read Job’s story and read what God has to say to his friends and their “helpful comments” after his suffering. God bless you.

    • Sheri

      Linda, even Jesus wept and was over come as He lived out the Father’s plans for His life. In the garden He asked his friends (disciples) to support Him, pray for Him because he felt weak in his human flesh. We non-moms are not trying to dishonour Mothers in our grief. We are asking our sisters in the Lord to pray for us, we are asking that you remember us as we honour you. When is it selfish to want to be a mother so badly that it breaks us? Would you be so harsh with a child that is part of a team but is always on the bench? That is how I feel, I feel like I’m a mother, I am wearing the team colours , ready to be put into the game but my body is not allowing me to play the game. Why not ask you to bow down, to put your arm around a hurting sister and pray with her. Sometimes we just need to know we are not alone.

    • Emily

      I don’t think it’s self pity at all. It’s a longing for something we are made for and a pain that comes along with not being able to have it. I would think it is safe to say that these mothers do not want to dishonor anyone at all. I think the point is for all of us to think about how we can honor mothers without bringing more pain to others. Isn’t it selfish to need to stand up to be recognized at the expense of hurting your sister beside you? Do you really think as a Christian your need to stand up outweighs the fact that people are avoiding coming to church to hear about God’s love for them because they can’t bear the painful reminder of their infertility? Does standing to be honored give so much more than simply making a statement to honor mothers while everyone sits? It may not make sense if you’ve never felt the pain but the pain is real and not self pity. Let’s all examine why we need to stand and think about who is being selfish here. Let’s love our neighbors as ourselves and honor our fellow sisters how we can.

    • Justagirl

      “Life does not always go as WE want it, but for believers, it always goes as HE wants it.”

      Linda, I disagree very strongly with this comment. The world is a long way from God’s original plan. HE NEVER planned the suffering that exists. While I definitely believe God can use all circumstances for His glory, because of free will, it does NOT always go as He wants it.

      • Diane

        Totally agree with you. Life does not go how God wants it on many levels. We live in a fallen world and we also have free will. What God does promise is to never leave us or forsake us and to bring hope and light into areas of darkness doubt.

    • Michael

      I’m a little confused how you are advocating for a special, non-biblical day of honoring mothers and in the smae “We need to learn contentment in whatever God has provided in our lives.” If one is content than why should it matter if we celebrate mother’s day or be more inclusive?

  • Leslie

    I’ve started this comment a few times because I don’t want to be rude, but I honestly feel that this blog is going too far. Why in heaven’s name would you want to skip honoring women on a single Sunday for being mothers because not every woman is a mother? Before I had any children of my own, I suffered a miscarriage, and yes, the following Mother’s Day was a bit painful for me, but I would never have taken the honor away from the many deserving members of my sex who sacrifice their own desires and needs daily to give to their children and spiritual children.

    I agree that pastors should include any woman who has ever mothered in their invitation to stand. I know several woman who don’t have children but have mothered others spiritually or in other ways, and they absolutely stand up on mothers day. If you are a mother you stand. Nobody is going to ask you who you have mothered. If you feel like you need to lie about it in order to feel value then I feel sorry for you.

    Women have value whether or not they have husbands or children. I’m sorry they can’t see their value and feel they have to take it away from others in order to feel better about themselves.

    • Amy Young

      Leslie, thanks for letting us know you started this comment several times — it helps me to picture you at your computer gathering your thoughts :). I do NOT want to skip honoring mothers. That’s why I included points 2 and 3 — mostly I’m suggesting that we might find ways ways of honoring that didn’t alienate — I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to read through the comments, but even some moms are not fans of standing. Over the last few years I’ve heard of churches getting very creative with honoring. I love it!

  • Laura Estrada

    I enjoyed reading the blog about Mother’s Day for those who are not mothers and how difficult it is. I am one of those women. I am in my late 40’s, and although I wanted a child so very badly, I was unable to conceive. My husband says it does not matter, but it has always mattered to me! And it’s not always about me… I have seen my mother fall to pieces on Mother’s Day and before, because she lost her dear mother whom she was very close to. All the advertisements are about Mother’s Day and don’t forget moms — even the casino near our home offers free play to “mothers” on mothers day. Not only has my mother lost her mom, but because I could not conceive she has no grandchildren to love – Double Whammy on Mother’s Day!! I do appreciate all the good mothers out there — I have also seen some really bad mothers, and am living in a situation now that is making Mother’s Day a living hell for my husband. I just wish we could find a way to celebrate the day without making such a big fuss out of it.

    • Amy Young

      Laura, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree that it’s not just non-mom’s who can find it challenging to navigate these waters.

  • Denise

    Beautiful. Wise. Thoughtful. Sensitive. Thank you for sharing these much needed words. Blessings to you.

  • Kat

    Thank you Darlene for posting this today! This is an amazing post and has blessed me and I am sure many others as well! A word to AMY…thank you so much for sharing your heart and saying things that needed to be said. I don’t think that Pastors intentionally create akward moments on Mothers Day, I do believe they are coming from a kind heart. But that being said, we are a comp,ex species; Women/Mothers/would-be and have-been Mothers! Your post points that out superbly and is a great reminder to be conscious of this fact this coming Sunday. Be kind, be generous, be loving..and extend grace to all women. I have been blessed to wear many “Mother” hats in my life; mother to my two amazingly beautiful daughters, step-mom to two wonderful children, and hoping to soon be a foster/adoptive mother to a few more awesome children. Thanks to both ladies for reminding us of the value and honor that should be given to ALL women and mothers on Mothers Day!

    • Amy Young

      Kat, I agree!!! I have been really moved by the response of so many pastors since this letter was published. Over and over, their hearts to serve us have come through loud and clear. They have such a challenging calling — just look at these comments, and we are part a small microcosm of those in their flocks and the various needs and responses. I have been reminded how very important it is to be more faithful about praying for pastors!

    • Amanda

      Very well said, Kat. Your comments speak of the great importance of Mothers, and yes we celebrate them on Mothers day.Being a Mother is a choice. On the flip side, not all women have that choice, for many reasons, medical or other wise. Those of us, who do not have children, are aware of the many different feelings we experience. Only non mom’s have an understanding of how that feels. I have never had a miscarriage, so I have no idea how that feels, therefore I would never comment. The point is, we honor all Mothers! Would a few tiny changes be that big of a deal, just to help with that awkward feeling ?

  • Jamie Klotz

    It’s a very beautiful piece, but I don’t agree. We honor military personel for what they do, and I don’t feel awkward because I’m not in the military. We honor veterans and many of them may not be alive to receive the honor, but we have holidays for them because of honor. We honor fathers, pastors, workers, grandparents, etc. We wouldn’t skip a student of the week just because 300 other students felt awkward. Honoring mothers is just that. It’s about honor. It’s not about singling people out and alienating them. And for some moms, it may be the only honor they receive that day. Let them enjoy it.

  • Lisa

    I have to say I vehemently disagree. Mother’s Day is a day to honor mothers. Yes, the woman who had miscarriages should stand, or whose baby was stillborn, or whose child died, or whose child ran away, or a step-mom, or a foster mom, or a mom who adopted AND the mom who gave her child for adoption, or a surrogate mom (literally and figuratively), or an egg donor that gave the gift of motherhood, or a pregnant, single mom – one doesn’t need to be married to get pregnant, even the one who had an abortion and feels guilt and pain from it. They are all mothers. By speaking out against honoring mothers by asking that they stand, you’re no better than atheists who complain that someone else believes in God and prays in their presence.

    • Sarah

      I completely agree with Lisa. Mother’s day is a special day for mothers. All types of mothers. It’s not a day for women in general. Anyone who is childless saying they feel “left out” is acting like a child. If you don’t have children, have never been pregnant, have never fostered, or treated a child like you were their mother then you ARE NOT a mother and this is NOT a day for you. Sorry but life isn’t fair and just because someone else gets a flower or is acknowledged on a special day doesn’t mean you can stomp your feet and whine that you want it too. Father’s day sucks in my house. My dad passed four years ago, and my son’s father isn’t around so when he has to do Father’s day projects at school I make sure I send in a note and it’s tweaked for Uncle instead of Father and he gives it to one of his uncles instead. It sucks but that’s life. You deal with it and move one. It’s one day out of the year. Quit trying to be so PC and let us moms have one day just for us.

      • Barbara

        I think Amy’s point has been missed here. It isn’t about taking away from those who are mothers; it is about showing compassion to those for whom Mother’s Day is painful. I’ve been through a few miscarriages so I know that pain. My mother is in a wheelchair and cannot stand, so she gets left out of that “honor” that others stand to receive. I think Amy’s suggestion is a beautiful one that shows honor to all women without causing further pain to those who’ve not been given the gift of motherhood.

      • MH

        Lisa & Sarah. Mother’s Day is about children honouring their mothers….Not mothers demanding honour. But that is what i am hearing here.Somewhere in our twisted world it got to the point, fed by the marketing of Hallmark and other companies that we should have this big celebration for mothers. And even the church has fallen for it. I find your words very cold and cruel and exactly the reason so many here are hurt.

      • Leah

        I swear, I don’t even know what to write in response to that… Mostly because many of the things I want to say are as unpleasant as the comments you posted.
        Try to see it this way. Yes, you’re only celebrated for being a mother once a year, but you are given the beauty of being a mom EVERY SINGLE DAY. Please try to truly appreciate the children you have and enjoy the love they give you every day of the year.
        (I have to be honest though, being horrifically infertile is pretty unpleasant every day of the year, it’s just merely horrific on Mother’s Day.)

  • Laura Watt

    I’m so glad you wrote this! My husband and I have been infertile for nearly 6 years now and Mother’s Day is very difficult for me. I especially find it already difficult going to church where we are centered so much on a mother and child, but Mother’s Day at church is a whole new agony.

    Last year when we lived in Alaska, I didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because the year before, they handed out a flower during mass to every single woman who looked like she might be a mom. I wasn’t and when I didn’t want to take it and shook my head indicating I wasn’t a mom, the person kind of forced it on me. Then I ended up holding this flower and being reminded for the rest of the time that I wasn’t a mother. Truly heartbreaking.

    This weekend, I know I should go to mass, but the thought of all those feelings that I will be experiencing and I know I will cry makes me not want to go.

    • Amy Young

      Oh Laura, I just wrote a comment to you, but there seems to be a lot of people commenting now and somehow it got lost. Six years is a long time to be on this path. Wow. Six. That’s 72 months of the death of a dream/hope/desire. Whether you go or not to mass, may God meet you and minister to your weary soul. Xox.

  • amy

    Okay, so because some women are not mothers to stand and be recognized, all women should remain seated. Typical liberal response. I have NEVER been in a church where the pastor asks the mothers to stand.

    • Amy Young

      I guess I don’t see how trying to find other ways to honor mom’s is liberal :). I don’t expect everyone to like these ideas — they are a starting place for a conversation and I appreciate hearing from you and the others who have taken the time to participate.

  • Lisa from Iroquois

    Hats off and hoorah to you for putting it so eloquently! As a non-mother myself I adore my nieces and nephews, and the children of my friends who also think of me as Auntie. As a sorta step-mom I have fretted over those children who have grown up to be such wonderful people. I have also taken street kids into my home for a day or a week, just to give them a chance to recoup their strength and courage. I made a choice many years ago not to have children but I never made a choice not to love and support children. Thank you for writing this blog.

  • Katie

    Our church always recognizes all women 18+ IN HONOR OF their mother on Mother’s Day. All the ladies receive a little gift from the church. We even have a Mother of the Year Award and have been known to award motherly figures, not just “actual” moms. We do the same thing on Father’s Day for our men.

    This was a great article. I loved the wide continum of mothering. So.very.true.

    • Amy Young

      Thanks Katie, the idea of a continuum resonates with me because it allows that space for the same category to be fleshed out in so many directions 🙂

  • Beth Anne W.

    Amen! Well said! As a mother with three children in heaven and none on this earth yet, I have been dreading Mother’s Day and looking for a way out of going to church that day because I knew our pastor would have all the mothers stand up and I didn’t want to feel awkward no matter if I stood or not. My church family all knows what happened but I just didn’t feel like dealing with the painful reminder. I came up with a solution that will help me focus on others instead of my own losses and I won’t have to decide whether to stand or not! I am leading the children in our church to hand out flowers and bookmarks to the mothers when the mothers stand. I am looking forward to going to a Mother’s Day recognition brunch for all who have lost babies tomorrow. And I will proudly be wearing my husband’s Mother’s Day gift…a heart necklace with our children’s names and birthstones on it.

    • Amy Young

      Beth Anne, what a perfect memento from your husband. And I appreciate your ideas on ways to be present and involved (especially when others do know your story and aren’t sure themselves what to do or how to respond to you). I love the idea of a brunch for all who have lost babies! Need to add that to my list of resources. Thank you!

  • Barb

    THANK YOU for this Amy. It lets me know that I’m not alone with those very same thoughts. I’ve experienced miscarriages, infertility, followed by major surgery to relieve me of pain that was a constant reminder of why I could no longer conceive. Unlike you, I don’t even have ‘the parts’. Although we joyfully celebrate our mothers, my husband & I have not attended church on Mother’s Day for years because I cannot be celebrated there. It really is like salt in a wound. Maybe, I’m selfish, but I do not feel guilty for my absence that day. Rather, I empathize with women who have gone through the same valley or might still be in it. Blessings to you!

    • Amy Young

      Barb, I think you know this, but you ARE seen and celebrated by God. On Sunday, whether you are in church or not, you are in the palm of God’s hand and he loves you. Very much.

  • E.Blake

    Amy I am sorry you are so uncomfortable, and I hope this is not to forward, but I feel you are being selfish, in thinking about yourself. If you are sitting in the pews, I would hope it is because you trust in GOD, and his plan for you. So stop looking at your half empty glass, and celebrate those that have crossed over already into there own adventures.
    Yes I am a mother
    yes I have had a miscarriage
    Yes I have lost two babies
    And I still remember the doctor telling me I would probably never have children, I “PRAYED”
    And by the grace of GOD I have five

    • Sarah

      Thank you for this response to Amy. I share your thoughts as well but just didn’t quite know how to put my thoughts into print. I have two sons, I have lost a son, my son’s have two sons and their wives have each lost a child. My mother lost her mother one week before her first child (one of five) was born so therefore she spent all her Mother’s Days without her mother. I will spend my first Mother’s Day WITHOUT my Mom this year…..do these events bring out painful memories… yes….Should I ask that my mom, my sons’s wives, me, and all the other moms not be openly honored and recognized on Mother’s Day…..in the house of God….especially…..just because it might cause me to remember a sad event????? AS ONE OF THOSE MOM’S WITH PAINFUL MEMORIES, I PERSONALLY FEEL IT WOULD BE DISRESPECTFUL TO ME AND ALL MOMS IF WE WERE NOT RECOGNIZED ON THIS DAY OF ALL DAYS AND ESPECIALLY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD!!!!!!!!

    • Amy Young

      Ah, one person’s selfishness is another person’s empathy. I love the way Paul reminds us we ARE a body and need each part. You need me 🙂 … and I need you.

      • Sheri

        That is it exactly Amy!!! It’s not that I think Mothers should not be honoured publicly, but that non-moms are often over looked or told to stop their crying because they are focusing on their pain and so they are being selfish. Talk about kicking us while we are down.

    • Amber

      Calling someone selfish during their time of grief? Really! Oh my goodness, go read the book of Job please. Consider how God, in his awesome grace would respond, gently to those of us who live through this day in and day out. That was just hurtful.

    • Diane

      What an insensitive and uncaring response to Amy. Selfish? What a horrible and untrue thing to say. Also the way you have exclaimed in capitals the you ‘prayed’ and God blessed you with five. Do you even understand how that reads within the context of your comment and this discussion?

  • Laurie

    Although i felt it was written very compassionately on behalf of those who might feel awkward at that moment of standing. I can’t help to think though, it is never any Pastors intention of making anyone feel awkward. The truth is many Pastors feel the weight of trying to make people feel welcomed and loved at his church. He gets compounded, oftentimes weekly, with those who felt their toes were stepped on or those who were offended by something. Those who cry, change this, or change the way you do that. The truth is he may be doing exactly what God wants him to do in the service and is going by that leading. He also understands he must lay all of that at the feet of Christ if someone does get hurt or feels awkward. He can’t please everyone, and a Godly man doesn’t try to, he will please God first. I feel our church has a beautiful balance on it. I personally feel doing away with asking moms to stand for a moment of honoring them may not be the answer. In our church as the moms stand, they are honored usually with a gift. I most certainly don’t want to come off wrong, but for our Pastor, I watch the weight placed on him by others who want everything to bend to them. No one wants to be uncomfortable, and although the man of God has compassion, he can’t predict how they may feel, or even prevent it. He can try his best to be considerate and compassionate, but he is just a man. Pastors can’t please everyone, they were not meant too. So with that said, I understand where she is coming from, I dont believe she was trying to be rude. Just thinking of how others may feel. I’m not offended, just understand the burden our pastors, God’s under-Shepard may carry trying to do Gods will within the church, feeding the flock, nurturing the flock, protecting the flock, guarding the flock should also be realized. All he wants to do is give honor where honor is due, and honor mothers on mothers day. That’s all. They are worthy of it. It doesn’t mean those without children aren’t worthy of any type of honor, its just that day is set aside for that, for them. I hope this makes sense. Pray for your Pastor, we may not fully understand the weight he carries daily, the burdens, the blessing everything. If your pastor chooses to do that kind of service and it hurts you, pray that God will comfort and bless you in that moment, ask God to bring the comfort only He can give. Ask him to give you the grace to rejoice with the women who are mothers. I understand infertility, this isn’t coming from someone who hasn’t been effected, i do understand. No matter how i feel i wouldn’t want to put that burden upon my Pastor for me. Anyways, thanks again, wanted to share my thought on it.
    Thank you again for your post, they are always a blessing 😉
    Keep it up sister

  • Nikki

    I too avoided Mother’s Day in my previous church. Not only was their standing for all Mothers, the new Mothers went to the front (in a processional) with their children for recognition, and a video with pictures of the newborns and voiceovers from the Mothers was presented. This also happened on Baby Dedication Day. It was very excluding for anyone who didn’t fit into the traditional motherhood role. Also while I am not against rejoicing and mourning together as a church family, Mother’s Day activities took over the service. There wasn’t much time or focus remaining to worship God our Father or Christ our Lord and Savior.

  • Karen

    I really appreciate how all inclusive you were. I never thought much about those who might be hurt or offended until I was expecting. So many people told me “Just wait until next year when you too will be a mum”. I was really hurt. I might not have experienced holding my little girl in my arms yet but I was already a mother. The more I thought about those innocent comments the more they bothered me. How are we to talk about the sanctity of the life of an unborn child if we aren´t willing to recognize that the woman carrying the child is a mother? I know that the people who made those comments had not really thought about the implications of what they said and I am sure I have done similar harm to others without realizing it. It can sometimes be hard to open our eyes to the needs and feelings of others but it is something we really need to do if we are to share the love of God with those around us.

    • Amy Young

      Karen, I really appreciate hearing from you. The more I/we hear from others, the more we can see each other?! Thanks for letting us see you.

  • Julie

    You did a wonderful job with this article. Being a Mom who suffered a miscarriage and then many years later watched one of my daughters go through the pain of infertility, I can empathize. However, I do agree with the response from Becky. Should we be so careful to avoid hurting someone that we don’t honor the Mothers in our congregation? I’m not fond of the idea of having all Moms stand. Our church has all women stand and honors all women for the grace and beauty they bring to our world. But, I still think in that we are trying too hard to not honor Mothers specifically.

    • Amy Young

      Julie, I’ll all for honoring moms! Just not the standing part :). I have been so impressed with the different ways churches all over the world have found ways to honor moms without making it awkward for some of them as well. Thanks for the comment.

      • Kim

        I used to love what our church did when I was growing up. Women and girls whose mothers were alive wore red carnations, women and girls whose mothers were in Heaven wore white carnations.

  • Tammie

    I really enjoyed this post. I know there are differing opinions on this post, and I feel like the devil is using this post to start more hurt feelings.

    Mothers, no matter how you are mothers, please feel blessed. Rejoice in your blessings. BUT please do not walk up to “non-mothers” and tell them they aren’t allowed at the Mother’s Day Breakfast because they aren’t a mother………or tell “non-mothers” that if they will confess their “secret-sins” that God would open their womb.

    My husband was not a believer before we were married. He has turned to God, and tries his best to do what he feels God is telling him to do. My husband was injured as a baby, and there are problems. After we moved away from our last church, he has tried to find a church were he feels we will both be comfortable. He does not want the “women’s group” looking down on me because we have no children. I still believe God has a plan for us. I never told anyone about our problem. I didn’t think it was any of their business.

    We tried to adopt, and the agency stole our money. I celebrate motherhood.

    Please just be kinder to each other.

  • Robin

    Thank you so much for this!!! We have 10 children in heaven. Our first child we were able to have was adopted as an embryo. For years Mothers Day was a huge struggle! Resulting in many tears over several years. God has graciously allowed balm over my heart by way of three unexpected children, but I always remember the feeling of terrible loss and unfairness. And I grieve for those still living in that experience. The goodness of God is not always the ease of life. Yet I trust His Sovereign will.

  • Vanessa

    I appreciate the sentiment in this article. I recognize that “mom” things can be very painful for those who are not mothers and want to be or uncomfortable for those who have no desire to ever be a mother. I fear that we are beginning to focus too much the pain of those who cannot or choose not to be mothers. In our attempts to not cause pain or hurt in painful situations we make those who are mothers feel ashamed of the blessing that God has given them. Children do not seem to be a part of God’s plan for either of my sister-in-laws. I know they hurt. When I finally got pregnant, I didn’t know if I could share my joy with them or if that would only cause them more pain. I don’t feel comfortable visiting or spending time with either of my sister-in-laws for fear that I will say something to cause them hurt or seeing the joy of my daughter will cause them pain. I have been really looking forward to Mother’s Day because it is the 1 day of the year when I can truly take joy in my position in life. I can be happy and no one will judge me for it or say that I am being insensitive to others. I have been struggling with getting pregnant a second time for over a year now, but I cannot share this pain with either of my sister-in-laws because at least I had one child while they have none. Can those who are hurting over their motherhood dreams not put aside their pain for 1 day a year to really and truly rejoice with those who have been blessed? Must mothers give up their one day when their children really try to show how much they love them? Why can mothers not live a shame free and guilt free life regardless of whether God chose to bless them with children and not other women? I know it hurts to not have a child, to lose a child, but putting aside the pain for 1 day isn’t going to kill anyone.

    • Amber

      I absolutely think that mother’s should be honored, but I also pray that Pastors will find a way to both, “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” A simple prayer can go a long way. That’s all women who are struggling with this want, is for our pain to be recognized by the church and to know that we have a family of believers on our side who love us and are hoping and praying right along with us. We want to know that we aren’t alone in grieving for the children we lost too soon, but that our church grieves along with us. It’s about being family. Feelings are still going to be hurt, because it’s a difficult journey. I’m going to be sad on Mother’s Day no matter what (though I have a feeling it will be a great worship experience between me and God) but the church taking just a moment to acknowledge us, and to say, “Hey, we know you’re here. We know you’re struggling. We love you we care about you” can make a huge difference because it’s sharing the burden with us and taking a little bit of the heaviness off of our hearts. I hope that makes sense. God bless you and happy Mother’s Day

    • Kristine

      I don’t think anyone’s grief should trump you joy, or their grief should trump your grief. We’re not looking for a trump card to top everyone else’s feelings here.

      You said “putting aside the pain for 1 day isn’t going to kill anyone”. Its not one day. Its not just Mother’s Day. Its Christmas. Its Easter. Rally Sunday. Dedications. Baptisms. 1st communions. Confirmations. Graduations. Baby showers. Children’s birthday parties. People who grieve children who died and unborn children are asked to stuff their feelings to the side all the time. And for the most part, most of the time most of us are pretty successful.

      The post wasn’t taking issue with Mother’s Day. It was specifically pointing out that one common practice, intended to honor mothers, doesn’t do much to honor them, but it does a lot to exclude women whose grief is generally ignored and silent.

      You would be celebrated, appreciated, and accompanied in all the myraid ways you experience motherhood through the continuum above.. all without excluding women who don’t hold children. How is this a bad thing?

  • dawn

    Amy, I appreciate your feelings. I am there with you 40s and no children. Some years it has been painful. I once asked God if He wasn’t going to give me my own children, please give a ministry with children. He has done exactly that. I have found there are so many kids out there that need love. Love them. Is there a single mom in your church that can’t afford much? Do something special for her from her kids. Is there a lonely lady that her kids never come see her. Take her flowers. I have witnessed ladies who are consumed by not having children and end up destroying their marriages and walk with the Lord. Don’t take away the honor to any mom. Have joy for them because God has called them to that. And claim your joy that you are called to a different path. It is a harder one, but God will use you in a situation that maybe He couldn’t if u had children

  • ZG

    Thank you for your column and speaking up for those of us (for whatever reason) just can’t deal with Mother’s Day. I have neither a grandmother, mom, or children with which to celebrate the day. It is possibly the worst day of the year for me. Don’t forget the men that suffer as well, the childless husband, the widower with children that ask ” Do we celebrate Mother’s Day?”, and the abandoned/orphaned children who don’t have a mother (but have a boatload of emotional baggage).
    Historically it was a day of support for women who their sons in the war and tried to improve things so others didn’t suffer a similar loss. It was never intended as an “in-your-face-I’m-wonderful-person because-I-have-children” day.
    It really is an awful day and I avoid church like the plague on both Mother and Father’s Day .

  • Amy

    I’m am usually so blessed and encouraged by the daily message that I read on Time Warp Wives, however today’s “letter ” just made me feel so sad. Yes, I am a Mother, but I have experienced a miscarriage and went for years without children. It never once even occurred to me to complain about my situation, and try to dampen other ladies’ joy one day out of the year. Even at that time I knew (as a daughter) the incredible sacrifice and devotion that a Mother gives. I find it disturbing that someone would “stay home from church” or “lie” about their status in life because they are hurt or offended that God has not chosen to bless them in the way they desire. Yes, I did say God. He ultimately decides the blessings we receive, and it is not good to question his current will for our lives. I am a Pastor’s wife and I cannot even express how discouraging it is for a minister to have the kind deeds he does for others criticized by his members. I believe the best remedy is one that has worked often for me in the past. Quit focusing on oneself and see what you can do for others. Maybe the author could volunteer to help with the recognition of the mothers in her congregation. It takes a very mature Christian to see beyond their own desires and congratulate the blessings of others.

    • Amber

      Seriously, if someone comes on this site that is not a Christian, all of these comments telling women that are suffering through infertility/miscarriage/stillbirth/adoption failures and deep painful wounds, is not going to EVER want to go to church, because some of you are so unloving and hurtful with your comments, calling us selfish for struggling with this day. It is my deepest hearts desire to honor others and celebrate with others, but after losing 5 babies, it’s going to hurt badly. I’m choosing to go worship God on that day, but it doesn’t mean I won’t spend the rest of the day in tears for what I’ve lost. I hope that you’ll spend some time in prayer and ask God to ask Him to give you some better understanding of those of us who “aren’t mature Christians” and struggle in our faith through infertility. Compassion goes a long way. And we can still rejoice with those who rejoice while mourning with those who mourn.

      • beke

        Amber, I mourn for your pain. I know pain like that can be so overwhelming and blindingly painful. I pray that through this time you may be drawn closer to our Lord. That you may somehow find Him to be sufficient.
        I have lost three brothers. There are times I wonder how my parents keep going. There are times I hear a friend talk about their brother and I feel rage. Grief is hard and often confusing.
        I understand both viewpoints that have been raised. I think that no one can tell anyone their viewpoint is or isn’t valid.
        Mercy and Grace are important.
        I don’t think that mothers standing in a church need necessarily be hurtful. Sometimes we will hurt until we don’t. There are times I ache for the brothers I lost so deeply that I just can’t stand it. I lost each one before they came to know Christ, and so, that pain cuts deep and is so final I almost can’t think about it. Yet, I could not expect anyone I know to honor their brother in whatever way they chose to simply because of my pain. It is my pain, one that I give to God again and again. That’s really all we can do with pain.

    • Erlinda

      I started reading alot of comments and replies. Tomorrow I will minister in a women’s jail. I started to wonder what will I say? Well I will say Today happens to be mothers day. But the reason we are here is! Today is the day the Lord’hasmade so let’s rejoice and be glad in it. I will be in front of women who have aborted, abandoned and possibly abused children. We are all sinners first! We are in need of a saviour. The glory is in the cross of Jesus Christ. The shepherd leaves the 99, (who are in church) to go out for the one Lost! Maybe lost in hurt disappointment, forsaken, childless. One thing I know from my own pain, when I draw close to the breast of my saviour. I hear his heartbeat for me.one day I was dusting a ceramic bride, I began to speak to the Lord, from my heart. Lord you know I wanted that, most women desire that. (With tears) he spoke back I saved you for myself! With the love I felt@that moment, it took away the why or when or what if. For those who are hurting after many years of the same pain, I pray the comforter will be let in your soul. (Mind, emotions, will) He is willing to affirm you daily. You are accepted in the beloved.

    • Justagirl

      I completely agree with Amber… These kinds of comments are not a good representation of the Christian love we should be showing in the church. Since you are a pastor’s wife, I can imagine how it wears on you that people are never content with what your husband is doing. However, compassion DOES go a long way.

  • ZG

    My gift to everyone on Mother’s Day is my staying away from it all. It’s better for everyone that way.
    Celebrate “your” day, enjoy your green eggs and ham or whatever your kids serve you in bed; and stand up in church and let everyone ooo, ahhhh and applaude. I’ll be following the Golden Rule by not raining on your parade.

  • Naomi

    I used to cringe and even hide by helping with the children’s ministry just to avoid standing. Now I have a son and attend church with my mother. So I have felt the pain and the joy. I understand that you are not wanting to abolish honoring moms but rather you are looking for a better way. One time that I remember the pastor said that all moms get to take home a potted flower on their way out. That did not make me feel left out. Having the oldest mom, or the mom with the most children present or the mom with the most….what ever, did not make me feel left out because I am rather average anyway. It was when they asked for all the moms to stand and I was the only woman not standing that made me feel left out.

    We should honor the blessed moms and the heavy hearted moms and the women who are not moms because chances are they influence children some how.

    I agree, the standing up is awkward.
    have only a few moms “with the most ” stand up
    pick up a gift/flower/card on the way out
    children pass out gift or card to all women in the congregation (big hubbub no one will notice)
    make it a point to verbally honor the childless
    childless women can help with children’s ministries, nursery, coffee ministry, etc that Sunday

    • Darlene Schacht

      We did this in church years ago. The mom with the most grandchildren, the mom with the oldest child, the mom with the youngest. It’s celebrating mothers but not creating an awkward situation.

  • Emily

    So true. I have grieved with my friends who have desperately wanted and waited for children, and I cannot imagine their experience when women, who for lack of a better word “lucked out” in the fertility game, are recognized for their roles of mothers. I myself am not a mother either, and I don’t know that I ever will be. It is not something I long for as they do. But oftentimes you’ll hear the words that “mothering is the ultimate calling for a woman.” That turn of phrase really irritates me. Does that mean that if I never have children I will be an unfulfilled or incomplete woman? Does it mean that I am not serving God’s higher purpose or calling by remaining childless? I think of the wonderful roles that women can play in their society, whether married or single, mothers or childless, and I cringe at the notion that motherhood is the “ultimate calling.” It is one of many callings. I also hear the phrase “you don’t know what love is until you’re a mother.” Really? Love, in all of its incarnations, is only full and true in the mother / child bond? I don’t think so. Those kind of phrases, while they may be trying to recognize the wonderful work that mothers do, serves to tear down other women who may not experience that. It’s almost like one-upmanship and I think we can do better to recognize ALL the ways in which women contribute, love, inspire.

  • Theresa

    Yeah, well, I’m child-free and religion-free. I think the whole “mother worship” is sick. This planet is seriously overpopulated and NO ONE should be breeding until the population is back down to a sustainable 3-4 billion. And, as a feline foster parent, I always laugh when someone asks me how many kids I have. Zero with 2 feet, but I adopt out 60+ 4-footed “kids” every year. And I’m not “making more”, I’m just caring for the ones who are already here, and getting them all “fixed”. Because yeah, “fertility” is “broken”. Sorry, but “motherhood” is not something to be celebrated even if you only did it once.

  • Carolyn

    I agree!!!! whole heartedly!!!!! ON March 8th EVERY YEAR!!!! is International Women’s Day….. on Mother’s Day we honour mothers….and mother figures if you feel like you are one….then stand. …on Fathers Day we honour fathers….and father figures if you feel you are one as well….then stand….on Veterans day/Remembrance day we honour veterans….on Granparents Day we honour grandparents. …and so on….I am not an unkind or insensitive person but for pete’s sake this inclusion of every form to the exclusion and minimization of other forms is tiring….at this point almost everybody has their day….stand on that day….stop asking general public/church/assemblies what have you, feel bad for not catering to you…and you….and you…..your awkwardness is on you….if you have demons and hurts and issues and struggles and battles….seek help….yet another article about making your surroundings made to change so you do not feel awkward will not make not make you happy…..the day before or the day after any specially marked day!

    I just read Linda’s post and she spoke beautifully from a spiritual perspective!

  • Jennifer

    Not every pastor has a choice. If a church has always forced moms to stand up and receive some token gift and carnation… a pastor can lose his job by initiating too much change. I wish we could do away with all this and just love and be compassionate, but there is a high speed train called tradition and it is hard to derail.

  • RamFM

    My first thought was – should we not ask Veterans to stand and be acknowledged on Memorial Day any longer? Perhaps there are men with emotional connections to the recognition of these warriors and we shouldn’t hurt their feelings. I understand – mother, step mother, daughter, sister, multiple miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy – I understand. However, Mother’s Day is about acknowledging Mother’s. YES – the unmarried pregnant woman should stand! And it’s our duty to bestow upon her the love we talk about in and outside of church. SHE’S A MOTHER. YES, those that have lost – should STAND! They are MOTHERS. If you care for a child in any capacity – you may have a mother’s heart and hand. STAND! If you’re not, then simply sit and don’t feel awkward. It’s not where you are at this point in life and perhaps, not the choice you made. Don’t penalize or make feel guilty those that have chosen a different path. I have been the non mother but I recognize the powerful and awesome responsibility the women in that part of their lives have and I applaud them with a full smile and heart! They deserve the recognition.

  • Jill

    I have to admit I was a little reluctant to read your article. However, it was very good and well written. I haven’t read all the responses and I do agree we are on shakey ground. I guess I feel like we are minamizing our womanhood and our motherhood to avoid God on such a beautiful day because our own pain is to deep. I have children here on earth and in heaven. When I was pregnant with my 5th several of my friends were pregnant when I lost my baby everyone wanted to hide their happiness for their own baby and that sadden me deeply. Every life is to be celebrated. I told them to please be excited this is an awesome life that God gave you. I had to feel my pain and loss of my daughter but never want to minimize their joy. So I guess my point is that we are all called to different vocations so let’s don’t minimize motherhood. All woman are life bearers. That doesn’t always mean we will carry life physically but we are life bearers and can rejoice in our motherhood whether married or single, with children on earth or not. We need to grieve the wounds we bear. For some it’s the loss of their mother, loss of childern, or the single life. We are called and we all need to rejoice in the gifts of others and not focus on our losses but on our identity that our lives belong to God and that is where we find our identity. For the memorial mass for our daughter we sang Blessed be The Lord. My focus was on the words “he gives and he takes away but blessed be the name of The Lord”.

  • chrissy

    Mother’s day has always been a day for me to celebrate my mom. I am a mother but I have always felt this day was for her and my children feel it is for me. It has never been about me celebrating me. Now that my mother has passed it is hard but I focus on her memory. Standing up with the rest of the moms in church does not make me feel honored so if this hurts others by all means we should stop. My children and husband make me feel honored. I would hate to bring pain to another just to get acknowledged.

  • Diane Stortz

    Honor moms, yes. But acknowledge too the pain others can feel on this day. Unacknowledged (“disenfranchised”) grief doesn’t heal, and the body of believers is meant to be a healing place.

    • MH

      Thank you for your comment Diane. One of the kinder ones here. I have long ago left the church because it just “hurt” too much to keep going. The mandate of the church is to look after the orphaned and the widowed, the lost and the hurting.

  • Lisa

    Very well written. I would add to this ‘to those who are post-abortive and wish with everything they have they could change that moment in time, God loves you and forgives you and understands your pain and regret’.

    • Jim Ellis

      This makes the assumption that choosing abortion is always the wrong choice. It forgets that there are worse things than death, and in some cases for instance, where a mother’s death in giving birth would rob several existing children of a loving mother’s presence, to make the choice to preserve the life of the mother, is arguably the loving thing to do. In any case, as a hospital chaplain I have seen several women make choices to end a pregnancy under very difficult circumstances. I have nothing but respect and admiration for these courageous and selfless women. Their God-given mothering instincts were lived out in doing what was ultimately in the best interests of everyone at that time. What is most disconcerting is that most of these women sitting in church this Sunday (there are several in every congrgation) will do so feeling unsafe to share there story because of the anticipated condemnation they know they would encounter.

  • Pastor J

    Ok here goes, Ive been a pastor going on 40 years, and not till I read this blog did I realize that being politically correct has now infiltrated Mothers Day…Some are mothers some are not, we need to realize that being a mother does not make you better or not having children make you less a creation of GOD…that fullness comes when a person denies self and focuses on God. Our focus is to be on GOD not self…

    • Mel

      Pastor–and all…then why bother celebrating it at all? It’s not a religious holiday. I don’t believe its about political correctness as much as it is about the strong bearing with the weak…about thinking of others more highly than of ourselves. These women are not making a liberal statement of their ideals. They are letting us catch a glimpse of the heartbroken parts of the Body of Christ that we may not have had the eyes to see.

      I think of the women who came to Solomon fighting over a child. The one who “gave the baby away” had grieving, empty arms but a full heart of love and compassion and so Solomon wisely recognized in her a true mother’s spirit, even though he could not verify biology. We serve a creative God who would more than gladly give us liberally–if we ask–the creativity to find a way to honor the most people that we can. I believe that is the heart of a shepherd.

      In the church that I pastor, we have over a staggering 45% of our women who have lost a child through multiple miscarriages, still births and death. And those are just the ones that have felt free to share their stories with us. It is an unthinkably high number and I have personally held and buried 3 still borns in the last few years. We have numerous adults who were adopted and struggle with their identity/birth mother loss and those–including myself, who have lost their own mothers. Pastor, never forget the heart of compassion that God gave you when He called you. Keep fanning that into flame that love of Christ for those who experience heartbreak on that day. And all of us have a besetting heartbreak that is our thorn in the flesh to carry. Yes, our focus is to be on God and not self, but let’s not forget that we all walk with a limp and can encourage one another on the journey towards wholeness in Jesus. What a great way to help them re-focus on Him by letting our love for them add salt to the world–and NOT to their wound! 🙂 Blessings in Christ!

      • MH

        wow…Yes..we all walk with a limp and somedays we just can not “suck it up” and put on that fake smile and go to church. I used to go to church once because I wanted to fill a spiritual void in my life and sought out God. I left church, because going caused me to experience increased loneliness (in particularly at holidays) and inadequacies and condemnation . I enjoy my Sundays so much more by not having the “anxiety” of going to church. The church is to help heal the hurt , the lost and the broken hearted and to look after the poor, the orphaned and the widows .I so appreciate your comments.You are a pastor who “gets” it

    • RJ

      Dear Pastor,
      Celebrating Mother’s day in a church service and in a style that also hurts and alienates as many as it honors is incredibly insensitive and doesn’t make sense. This has nothing to do with political correctness. DON’T LET THE CRY OF THE HURTING fall on deaf ears. i am sorry this is new to you after 40 years of being blind to this reality. This blog has given a voice to the silent ones that have felt ignored and dismissed by the church.

    • Egbert

      Pastor J,

      This isn’t about being “politically correct.” Your comment shows me that you are somewhat disconnected from being able to understand the spiritual need of many women in your congregation. Your tone comes across as a bit neanderthal and uncaring. Our family attended a church where the pastor showed a similar lack of compassion, sometimes carelessly expressed in his sermons … we left. Please try to understand there are many women in your congregation who HURT because they are not mothers. Some of those women – MANY of them – lost their baby(babies) to abortion before they became Christians. They SUFFER. To ignore the women who have lost children only makes them feel less valued and less loved by God.

    • Diane

      Do you not know that what is termed as being ‘politically correct’ is just about not degrading or discriminating against others?

      Infiltrating? Mothers Day is not a Christian celebration. You could say a secular event has infiltrated the Church.

      Then you offer up to the hurting to ‘deny self’ and ‘focus on God’ Do you think they have not been focussing on God for years. Maybe the Church could chose to deny instead, the worship of the nuclear family and focus on the whole body of Christ. I am assuming you have not read the many comments.from women suffering during the annual rituals that cause them anguish leading up to and on that day, otherwise I don’t think you would have given such an unthought through advice. There are ways of doing this better, even after 40 years. We don’t have to continue in the wilderness of denial.

  • Tom Emigh

    This resonates with me. Deeply. I think we can celebrate a broader group without diminishing, embarrassing, or alienating. I will use an excerpt from this in the sermon on Sunday (Mother’s Day)

    As I read through this, and other reflections like it, I am not seeing a group mentioned – a group that still doesn’t get much credit: Dads who also need to be moms. For a variety of reasons, some dads find themselves in a situation where they must fill the duties of both parents. As we cast our net of recognition more broadly – and appropriately so- lets be fully inclusive.

    Thank you again for this helpful reflection

  • Heather

    I am a mother. I became a mother in January of 1998, so I’ve been a mom for 16 years now. However, for the first 6 years of my motherhood, I could not stand on Mother’s Day. My oldest two children died in my womb. I avoided church or held back tears, then went home to cry. I TOTALLY get this. I now parent 4 beautiful, amazing, wonderful kiddos, but I am a mother to 7. The year I first stood with my 11 month old in my arms was bittersweet, as I’ve never had a year go by that I don’t wonder “Who in this room is hurting today? Who didn’t even show up?”.

    Thank you for writing this. I get it. My heart hurts even now for the babies I couldn’t stand for. I was still a mother, but would they all think I was crazy for standing? Would they think I’m not a mom? I’m all for honoring moms, ALL moms, in a different way.

  • Aron Darling

    Total bunch of emotional non-sense. Everybody must get a trophy because someone else did; or no-one gets a trophy because someone didn’t.

    If you are infertile Adopt; there are millions of children out there waiting to be a part of a family.

    How selfish!

    • Tom Emigh

      I think process of understanding/documenting ones infertility is long, painful and full of hopes and disappointments. To stop for a moment and acknowledge how complicated the celebration of motherhood doesn’t seem like emotional nonsense to me at all. It seems like hospitality. It doesn’t strike me as being politically correct, but rather taking a moment to acknowledge that “one size” doesn’t fit all.

      I taught this morning at church, and included some of what I learned from this blog and resultant discussion. As I looked around the room at the faces staring back at me, I was reminded of the stories of many who cannot simply approach mother’s day as simply as the card rack at Target would suggest. And after, I got quite a bit of positive feedback for taking just a brief moment to acknowledge how complicated the reality of this day is for many, even as we strive for and celebrate the ideal.

      Isn’t that true every week? Don’t we tackle a passage of scripture, putting it forth as an ideal, but also acknowledging our brokenness, the gaps, the missed opportunities – and our obvious need for a Savior and God’s grace? So, then, to take a moment to acknowledge that in the context of Mother’s Day seems right in keeping with our mission – and practice.

      Go easy on labeling the lived story of others as emotional nonsense. It actually makes a more significant statement about you than them. Instead, perhaps listen and learn.

    • Christina

      Aron “darling”, how truly truly heartless. “If you are infertile, then adopt” : if only life were so simple. I’m assuming by your post that you are some kind of infertility expert; but then if you were, you might understand that although my most desperate wish is to parent, and be a mother (note I did NOT use the terms “get pregnant and have a baby”), due to a very complicated genetic midline birth syndrome, I cannot bear children to term. Being born with this syndrome that impacts everything which is formed on the midline of one’s body, including all major organ systems, is through no fault of my own, nor my parents, nor God- it just is what it is.
      I have also learned after a very expensive foray into the world of adoption, that I can neither adopt nor foster due to ongoing health issues related to said syndrome. I am blessed to have many children in my life through the charity I direct, but I am grieved every day by the knowledge I will never know the joys, trials and living of life that comes from the experience of raising children. I also am fortunate enough to go through a week of agony each month as a reminder of my inability to bear children, just as an extra kick in the teeth(and before you start on why I just don’t have surgery, after 25+ major surgeries and medical procedures I am unable to safely undergo general anesthetic). On the outside looking in I have a successful professional and personal life and a positive impact in my community, and I thank God daily for the blessings in my life and the Gift of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross on my behalf. However it doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn the loss of that which I can never have. Trust me, if I could adopt, I would be raising kids by the dozen. through support groups I have become aware of literally thousands of women in a similar position to mine. Please try not to be so judgmental, this life is hard enough without “helpful suggestions” such as yours!

    • Sarah

      “If you are infertile, adopt” – it’s not nearly as easy as you think to do that. It can cost a lot of money – like more than a new car – and it can take years and years. It took 7 years before my sister was placed with us on 2 different waiting lists (no idea how long it was before I was placed) – I remember it was really hard waiting. And once the child is there, there is no guarantee that the birth parent(s) will not change their mind, which can be heart-wrenching. So no, it’s not nearly as easy as you make it out to be.

  • Amber

    The other day I asked God, “If our broken hearts don’t matter to our church family, does that mean it doesn’t matter to you either? Do you care that this day hurts so many of us?”

    This is my blog post, where I wrote about how Christ revealed his deep love for the barren women, and on his way to the cross, answering the questions and doubts I had just the night before. If you are in the midst of infertility/miscarriage/adoption loss/post abortion grief/whatever, please go read my post here and see how deeply loved you are by our Savior, who thought of you on the way to his death, and took time out to acknowledge our grief. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t recognize our struggles, Christ knows your pain. He cries with you and longs to comfort you. He will remember you this Mother’s Day.


  • Kelly

    I’m saddened by the comments that suggest that including all types of “mothers”–traditional, spiritual, those with children in heaven and on earth–somehow steals honor from the traditional mothers. Honor is not lessened for anyone by extending it to all. One commenter suggested it was selfish for those that aren’t mothers to steal the one day that is all about her. It is a day to honor you! But including those that long to be moms or have complicated stories in no way lessens the celebration of who you are and what you do! Thank you for these great suggestions!

  • Sue

    Thank you, I loved what you wrote. I have six adopted kids and last year I walked out of the service crying because the children’s sermon was how mothers and their children look alike. I also hate that there is always a baby dedication on Mother’s Day. Talk about a slap in the face. I see failure every time there is a baby dedication, but on Mother’s Day it is 100 times worse. You said the words that I feel.

  • He is a Loving God

    It is difficult to read some of the venom spewed toward these women who are struggling with loss. My heart is warmed by the kindness in their words as they respond to some of the insensitive comments. Amy’s kind and tempered responses continue fast and steady even in the midst of some mean spirited personal attacks. God is clearly working in her life.

    As Christians, we are all called upon to show kindness and compassion to one another. We are called upon lift each other up and minister to our fellow Christians who are in pain. It is the right thing in God’s eyes and is much more fulfilling than tearing each other to bits with harsh words.

    Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the compassionate, for they shall receive compassion.
    1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous,

  • Alecta

    To those who are mothers. To those who wish to be and are not. Those who do not wish to be. If you ever were, you still are. Women, men, trans, non-gendered – all who nurture and help others to grow – you are mothers in this way. Because being a mother isn’t exclusively about the fruit of our womb, it’s about the act of mothering: nurturing, protecting, teaching, loving. Anyone can do this, but not all do. In these comments I see a great deal of “othering”. Being able to reproduce is a facet of biology. It’s not an achievement or special prize. Plankton can reproduce, as can slime-mold. The ability to be a mother is so much more than cells dividing.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for posting this! I appreciate the balance given in the points of all stages. Not everyone read through the whole piece, don’t take it to heart. You want to ensure mothers are honored in a beautiful way, while not alienating others.

    I personally cringe with Mother’s Day as my mother was abusive towards her daughters and forced them to live with her pedophile husband. I know that this isn’t common, and not many can relate to what that feels like, and I know many many mothers are amazing and loving and their children are blessed. I just never had that experience. I love the idea of honoring these amazing women, while acknowledging the steps in the journeys of others.

    Thank you

  • Ashley - Embracing Beauty

    Beautifully written! I remember the awkward Mother’s Day when I was pregnant and my heart breaks every year thinking of the women who’ve miscarried, who can’t have children, and whose children have passed away. Great suggestions!

  • A daughter

    As a daughter of a woman who did not fit the “traditional” role of a mother, I thank you for this letter. I cannot begin to think how many years I left the church in tears on Mother’s Day. To hear how all mother’s should be revered and are blessed, is painful for those of us that were not raised by this type of person. However, I am beyond relieved to hear you recognize those who took on that role without giving birth. I am a mother. I struggle daily. I have a better understanding of what my own mother went through. Yet, in this day and time, it is the recognition of the continuum that is so desperately needed. All mother’s should be recognized, but just to hear acknowledgment for those who do not fit in that “traditional” category is a blessing indeed.

  • Joel Solliday

    This can push ministers into a lose-lose dilemma. If we fail to include clear and practical ways to honor mothers in church on Mother’s Day, many will feel overlooked and upset. If, however, we do specifically honor mothers and motherhood, some non-mothers may feel hurt and unappreciated. There are some creative approaches but I am not sure we should make ministers walk on eggshells like this. In a culture that is increasingly viewing motherhood as unnecessary (as if two or three dads are just as good), church needs to find visible ways to show appreciation to them. As a 59-year-old single man and minister, I have no children. Sure, there is pain in that but no one loves honoring mothers and fathers more than I do. Kids too. I also try to honor Christian mentoring. I did not serve in the military. Still, I make every effort to celebrate Veterans Day and Memorial Day every year at public ceremonies where I have to stay seated as veterans stand. I take enormous joy and pride in honoring them in ways I cannot be honored. I genuinely beam with combined feelings of humility and honor as I keep my seat. It is my job to do all I can to honor Christian faithfulness and service in all its forms while trying to avoid hurting people or leaving anyone out, but it is also the Christian’s job to get over themselves. Hope that did not hurt anyone.

    • MH

      You can not compare the Mother’s Day thing to honouring veterans. To be in service as in the military, the police, fire department is a CHOICE. They deserved to be honoured for making that choice when many of the rest of us did not.
      To not be a mother, to not have a mother, to not know a mother, to lose a mother is NOT a choice. You can not compare this .Not every person sitting in your pew is a Christian and not every person sitting in your pew are at the same place in their maturity.

  • Lee

    Speaking as a Pastor, I can say that I have always found Mother’s Day a hard one. I truly believe that for every woman loving Mother’s day there is someone struggling with it – someone who lost their mother, or who struggles with infertility or lost a child or all the things you mentioned. At our church we use Mother’s Day to honour all women. No one is asked to stand. The kids give every woman a flower and we thank them for all the different ways they are special. Then someone prays a prayer very much what you wrote above – praying blessings on mothers in their many forms, comfort for those struggling on the day because of loss or heartache and thankfulness for the role women play in our lives. Thank-you for validating the way our church honours Mother’s Day. It is a great affirmation. (As a side note, I find Father’s Day even more challenging to acknowledge in church – there are just so many more emotions, at least in our community with many single moms and people whose relationships with their fathers was messy, to say the least).

  • Laura

    What about (regardless of if you have children or not) celebrating YOUR mother on Mother’s Day? I struggled with infertility and parenting non-biological children and getting no recognition. It hurts but it’s not about yourself it’s about celebrating your beautiful mother.

    • Keri Wyatt Kent

      Exactly. While not all of us can be mothers (or choose to be), each of us has a mother. When we focus on honoring our mothers, rather than whether or not we ARE mothers, the day becomes much easier (and less painful). Yes, some have lost their mothers, or have strained relationships with their moms, but we can honor their memory, or choose to be kind for one day.
      It’s also a day when we can affirm that God mothers us. I’ve written about it a bit here: http://www.keriwyattkent.com/the-mothering-god-gives/

  • Laura

    P.S. There are no mother police at church.. If you feel you are a mother in any capacity in your heart and you would like to stand, you should feel free to do so. No one is stopping you. The gift you have given your children will be celebrated by the community.

  • M

    Look, I’m not saying that mothers shouldn’t have their day. I believe every recognition for the work they do should be celebrated in any way a church wants to. It is well deserved and God-given. I’m writing, however, to shed some light and direct my viewpoint to anyone complaining about being childless.

    Or anyone married, for that matter!

    Do any of you for one minute have a clue what it is like being 48 and never married?

    It’s waking up to the realization that you have missed out on so much depth of experience that comes with marriage and family

    It’s knowing that there is undeniable growth that comes with the dedication involved in marriage, and being stifled from that.

    It’s sobbing because you have missed out on years of sex and the joy and intimacy it brings because you’ve been obedient to God to remain pure, suddenly being hit by a two-by-four to also realize that after menopause your body changes in ways that would reduce even this aspect of marriage, IF you get married at all.

    It’s knowing that you will NEVER have a child. Granted, I’ve never been one to desire a child with all my heart as some may, but I who knows? Given a husband, I can very well see a desire to have a child with him. I would have liked to have at least THE CHANCE.

    It’s reeling with thoughtless comments from married women that say: “Life didn’t start until I got married”, or “thank goodness I found my man”

    Or even more than that, when I hear a 20 something woman lament on all the WAITING she’s doing for her husband to appear, and why doesn’t God hurry up?! It’s even more laughable when they are married and comfort their own peers by saying, “don’t worry honey, hang in there,” as if 28 is just such a LONG TIME.

    It’s having the wind knocked out of you when the last time you saw a girl, (now in her 20’s, married with a child), she was just 5 yrs old herself.

    It’s knowing that many of your friends are approaching an empty nest, moving forward towards a settling down, knowing there’s a heritage and having a chance to have caretakers when they get old.

    Want me to go on?

    So, my point is that there really is no place for the mid-life single. Be thankful you have not missed out on at least getting married. To be honest I tried to get involved with community groups but all everyone talked about was their kids, their homes, “how to be a good spouse”, “how to love your kids”, and then X10 beyond that every time at church.

    Not that I blame them. There isn’t much ministry to my demographic because it is rare that people have been or are in my shoes. There are few of us, much more of them, but little in common in terms of life experience and lifestyle. I feel very, very out of place.

    To be honest, yes, I am cynical, I am regretful and I don’t understand. BUT the only thing that pulls the reins back from full on jadedness is that I remind myself that God has the right to do whatever He wants. There are no explanations on why some marry and others don’t. No one is better than the next. Why should I think I am more deserving of blessing when none of us deserve any blessing to begin with? God in His goodness gives and takes away, and if He has given salvation and nothing more, I really can’t say anything. I can ask, but I can’t make Him. And I guess I can say “so be it”, but it won’t stop me from grieving and mourning if I don’t find a husband.

    All I ask is that for those of you who say, “so be it”, I’d just like some credibility behind your words.

    • MH

      I know where you are at. I gave up “relationships ” because the church coached me to because the man wasn’t a Christian. I stayed pure to God, thinking I would be honoured for it.The Christian man never came but if I looked at a non Christian I was suddenly “falling away” and my Christian peers were suddenly all over it telling me to hold out for “the one God intended”.
      I became the aunt, the best friend, the 5th wheel, the one in the back seat with the kids wondering if someone was going to include me in their “family” celebrations at holidays. At weddings I get to sit with the”old spinster” aunt, or the 80 year old widow or the kids. I know how you feel. My friends now all have grand children and I find that they are even worse because they are more possessive with their grandchildren than they are of their own children. The church is the absolute worst place to be a Christian. The church worships the family and “church family” is really a myth. I long ago stopped going to church and I am so much more content. It may not sound it here but when I started reading all these comments it all comes up again.The “world” is so much more accepting and inclusive to the single person.I totally know where you are coming from. Thanks for your honesty. We all have our hurts and pains, but I think that for some reason the single person is never validated for theirs. Please know that I hear and validate your hurt.

      • Ruth

        Hi MH,
        I hear you. I’m really sorry you had that experience! I have had some similar and some different experiences… I have been a part of a church that at my loneliest and great hour of need & acceptance, I was neglected and outcast. I was really hurt, both from my situation and the abandonment I felt from the people who should have been there for me. It took me years to get past that, but I have since been involved in churches who really are a church family, even to newcomers, outsiders, sinners, and hurting people. They have protected me in my most vulnerable times, loved me through my insecurities, and helped me develop a closer relationship with God. Those same people have hurt me, spoken truth to me when I didn’t want to hear it, and disagreed strongly with me. But I know they love me, and I love them. We’ve become family to each other. The church on earth will always be dysfunctional, because it is run by imperfect people trying to follow a perfect God, and falling short. It’s ok to not “go to church”: the building is not important. I hope & pray that you have been able to continue your relationship with God, though, and have found some Christians who can accept you and love you, encourage you in your walk with God and walk with you through life. 🙂

    • Sarah

      M – I haven’t gone through menopause yet (and I’m 36), but other than that, I feel as if I could have written this.

  • SBB

    To the women who chose at some point to end the life inside of them, (If already noted in the contents, I apologize, I didn’t read them all), We pray WITH you. (I bring this up for those unspoken, carrying this burden on their hearts, not to cause an uprising).

  • Diana Trautwein

    Amy! A friend posted this prayer on FB and I clicked through to see who wrote it. THANK YOU FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL, HELPFUL POST. What a treat to discover that YOU wrote it.

  • Jim Ellis

    This piece is well written and you give appropriate suggestions for a sensitive approach to liturgy. I would respectively suggest that you have forgotten one significant group of women who unfortunately are left in shameful silence by most Christian churches. I speak of the many women who for many different and often agonizing reasons decided to end a pregnancy at some point in their lives. They too are often grieving deeply and to have their situation included in your piece would be a gift of grace and perhaps even permit them to share their experience with a pastor who clearly does not judge or condemn, but extends the unlimited love and healing of the divine heart to them as well!

  • Mary

    It’s mother’s day. It’s a day to honor mothers. I’m sorry, but you need to get over yourself and be ok with that. I’m not a mother either and I don’t feel like that on Mother’s day. You need to stop thinking about how you feel and honor that what mother’s do is worth recognizing one day a year.

  • Anonymous

    And to those mommas that lost children to the world’s lies of abortion and later grieve for their children.

  • Jeff

    You are so right, BUT why stop there? There are many, though no fault of thier own, wanted to but can’t not have joined the military. Let’s ask our pastors to stop honoring veterans *ONE DAY* a year at service. Oh wait, we have to also cancel the Church Easter Egg hunts so we don’t allow the “vision impaired” children to feel exculded.

    Where does it stop?

    We all hurt, we all have things we WISH we can or should have achieved but haven’t and maybe through no fault of our own. BUT that is by NO means an reason to NOT celebrate mothers on Mother’s Day!

    I honestly mean no disrespect but, we all hurt, have our reason why we hurt and we cannot run from that pain, it’s gonna be there! For ONE day a year, maybe instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we can put ourselves aside and celebrate those who are worthy of said celebration. Otherwise, by the logic set forth in this blog, we should never honor anyone, anywhere, anytime for fear of unintentionally offending anone else.

    As a parent, I my heart goes out to those who (for whatever reason) is unable to have children. It is a blessing and so fullfilling. But I would ask that you put your selfpity aside for one day, one moment, and honor mothers as they should be.

    • Christina

      actually those who are blind/visually impaired are just as good at Easter Egg Hunts as everyone else- just saying!

  • Katie

    Thank you for this article! I have been a small town Children’s Minister for a few years now and this past week one of my student’s mom’s committed suicide. I have been praying about how to handle the situation in church and even if this article did not give me complete answers it really gave me a new way to look at the situation.

  • Sarah

    First – although I am a mom I am aware of at least one lady at my church that feels the “momless” pain. I think your section 2 was the best part of the article. I had tears and immediately posted a link on my Facebook page to this post.
    Second – for me it’s 10:15 and I’m fighting to stay awake so I didn’t get to read all of the comments and your responses. The few I’ve read you have polite and gracious in the face of criticism and that’s often very difficult. I commend you in that also.
    Third – My church honors in a way I’ve not seen often. As you enter you are given the choice of a white or red carnation. You pick a RED carnation if your mother is still alive and a WHITE carnation if your mother is no longer with us. SO, we honor our mothers and not ourselves and no one is left out of that scene. Perhaps this might help others.

  • Renee

    To those who cannot feel compassion, and instead criticize those who suffer on Mothers Day – shame on you! Standing is merely a social convention – it seems that some feel the need for it as a means of drawing attention to themselves so they can bask in narcissistic glory, just because they successfully procreated. Try acting like good mothers – nurture those who suffer…as Christ would do. Hmmm…Maybe we should rename it ‘Mothering Day’, so we can honor behavior, not biology.

  • Melissa

    For all who are arguing that it is a shame that she is trying to take away from honoring mothers, I’d encourage you to consider that most mother’s with families (or daughters with living mothers) will have a way of expressing that joy and gratitude apart from church. It was NEVER the church’s place to be the sole celebrator of motherhood/fatherhood! What the author is advocating is taking the potential stinging stumbling block out of the church service by being intentional of how you celebrate. She is not telling anyone to stop having their kids make finger painted picture frames, purchasing hallmark cards, making breakfast in bed, placing a long distance call or even celebrating in church. She is, rather, advocating that we follow the biblical mandate to “think of others more highly than ourselves” which means that biological moms and their kids–as well as those struggling without–are given the highest honor possible. So….go celebrate your mom or being a mom–and do it to the glory of God…and while you’re at it, do your best to honor those for whom the day can be like a knife to the heart.

  • Mel

    Pastor–and all…then why bother celebrating it at all? It’s not a religious holiday. I don’t believe its about political correctness as much as it is about the strong bearing with the weak…about thinking of others more highly than of ourselves. These women are not making a liberal statement of their ideals. They are letting us catch a glimpse of the heartbroken parts of the Body of Christ that we may not have had the eyes to see. I think of the women who came to Solomon fighting over a child. The one who “gave the baby away” had grieving, empty arms but a full heart of love and compassion and so Solomon wisely recognized in her a true mother’s spirit, even though he could not verify biology. We serve a creative God who would more than gladly give us liberally–if we ask–the creativity to find a way to honor the most people that we can. I believe that is the heart of a shepherd. In the church that I pastor, we have over a staggering 45% of our women who have lost a child through multiple miscarriages, still births and death. And those are just the ones that have felt free to share their stories with us. It is an unthinkably high number and I have personally held and buried 3 still borns in the last few years. We have numerous adults who were adopted and struggle with their identity/birth mother loss and those–including myself, who have lost their own mothers. Pastor, never forget the heart of compassion that God gave you when He called you. Keep fanning that into flame that love of Christ for those who experience heartbreak on that day. And all of us have a besetting heartbreak that is our thorn in the flesh to carry. Yes, our focus is to be on God and not self, but let’s not forget that we all walk with a limp and can encourage one another on the journey towards wholeness in Jesus. What a great way to help them re-focus on Him by letting our love for them add salt to the world–and NOT to their wound! Blessings in Christ! – See more at: https://timewarpwife.com/?p=3120#comment-10333

  • Dyana

    I’ve read all of the comments and I find myself agreeing with many who don’t agree with this blog post.

    I had 3 miscarriages over the course of 1 year. I had surgery to remove one ovary before I was 20 years old. I lost my own mother shortly after turning 17 years old. I finally had 1 child (almost lost him at birth) and then spent the next 10 years trying faithfully to have more children before being told I had pre-cancer and had a hysterectomy a month after turning 30 years old.

    Mother’s Day comes once a year. Once. Prior to having my son it never once crossed my mind not to attend church because it might remind me of what I don’t have – children or my own mom. I went and celebrated all of the wonderful women who were there.. alive. Sure, my eyes welled up with tears but it didn’t once take away from me wanting to honor these women and their role in their families.

    My pastor will ask the moms and grandmothers and great grandmothers to stand this Sunday and I’m ok with that.

    Let me also ask.. what about graduations? How many young adults aren’t able to graduate for reasons out of their control – should we not honor those who are graduating? I didn’t get to graduate with my friends because I spent my days worried about my mom who was dying of cancer and my grades suffered. I still attended my friends celebration and clapped for them as if I was down there on the field with them. My situation didn’t change that I loved those people and I was happy for them. I don’t see Mother’s Day any different.

    This blog post actually makes me really sad. So many of the comments make me sad. I don’t know why, even in our own suffering, we can’t honor and celebrate our sisters in Christ on this one day out of the year.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want kids, and I don’t see motherhood as anything special, so I personally couldn’t care less. But I guess to those who want kids and can’t have them, I’d feel for them too if they feel alienated by this.

  • M

    I have been following this post most of the night after I saw it posted on Facebook. I was intrigued so came to your blog. I even posted comments on some other people’s posts, but they don’t seem to have been accepted as valuable comments. Somehow I am not surprised. I used to go to church but I have not been there for at least 10 years. I don’t even know if I’m a Christian anymore. Maybe I never was. My one experience that I remember going to church was on Mother’s Day. I was one of the ones that was left sitting alone in the pew while many of the mothers were upfront getting honored. It was a very humiliating and hurtful day for me. When I first read this, I was pleased to see what Amy wrote. At last , someone who understands the misfits. However, when I read the comments, I realized that nothing has changed. The church is not about the hurting and the broken hearted. It is about the chosen ,the blessed , the successful and the rich needing acknowledgement in all they have. I realize now that I do not belong and nor will I ever belong in the church.

    • Argie

      M, Please don’t look to people, keep your eyes on Lord. Read his promises, his words of love, acceptance and validation. Don’t take out your frustrations on the Lord or blame God for the actions of the church.Yes, we are God’s love letters to the world, to quote a famous loving lady (M. Teresa), but we mess up. People will always fail us, but the Lord never fails us. Find a different church, but not a different God. Even if you have walked away from the Lord or blamed him for these Mother day stand-up sessions that made you feel humiliated, he is not giving up on YOU. FYI, mainstream people didn’t get Jesus either, he wasn’t accepted by conventional institutions but the broken, the misfits, and outsiders recognized him immediately. You are not alone but sometimes we have to have grace for others who don’t understand us or the path God has us on. Just know, God gets you and loves you.

  • B. K.

    I to some extent disagree.

    I dealt with infertility for years. This Mothers’ Day, my first baby is seven months old, and I’m so excited to be able to stand up in church… and excited that my mom will be able to stand up as a grandma for the first time.

    Two years ago, being in church on Mothers’ Day hurt. I wanted SO bad to be a mother, and I wasn’t. I was crying inside, “Why, God, why? Why can’t I have a baby to love?”

    But if they hadn’t had mothers stand, would I really have been in any less pain? It was still a day all about something I desperately wanted to be, and couldn’t. The whole DAY, regardless of standing, reminded me of what hurt every day anyway.

    And I would not for the world have asked them not to stand for a round of applause, when my cousin, who struggled with infertility for years, had just brought her sons home the week before.

    I like the way my church has done it, anyway. First, ALL the women stand and carnations are passed out. Then everyone sits except mothers. Then all of the mothers sit down unless they are also grandmas. Then all the grandmas sit down except the great-grandmas. The biggest round of applause comes for the one or two great-great-grandmas we have.

    I think I still would have gone home and cried, whether my cousin had gotten to stand up and be applauded or not.
    But oh how exciting it is, the first time you get to stand up! It’s not so much the recognition others give you as the chance to say, by standing up, “Yes! That’s me!” And I would never want to take that joy from someone else.

    • RJ

      Dear Pastor,
      Celebrating Mother’s day in a church service and in a style that also hurts and alienates as many as it honors is incredibly insensitive and doesn’t make sense. This has nothing to do with political correctness. DON’T LET THE CRY OF THE HURTING fall on deaf ears. i am sorry this is new to you after 40 years of being blind to this reality. This blog has given a voice to the silent ones that have felt ignored and dismissed by the church. Why do churches feel the need to cling to these practices? Mother’s day is a nice to have cultural custom but it is not a Christian holiday or ceremony.

  • Jule

    Our church does have mothers stand, but does it in the way you described in your post. Our pastor’s wife repeats your point #2 word for word as each person stands until all can hug and show support for one another. I love that because I have personally lost my mom in the last year; I am currently the mother of three kids; and, I am the struggling mom of a special needs child and don’t really know the future.

  • Emily

    I believe that you don’t have to have children of your own to be a “mom”. I further believe that people are far too easily offended and as Christians this is just awful. Are you telling me that they shouldn’t have graduates stand at graduation because there might be some who never graduated watching the ceremony and it might be too “painful” for them? Maybe instead of asking everyone to change for you, you should take your pain to your Heavenly Father and ask Him for help coping. Pain is something brought into this world with the first sin, but it is a tool for us to learn and grow with as loving Christians. Embrace it.

  • Barbie

    I appreciate the sentiment behind this. I agree that the big picture is bigger than what we typically think of when we say “motherhood.” And I know it is a tremendously hard thing to walk through to be in a state of yearning for normative “motherhood.” My prayers are with those who do daily.
    I do think making an enormous deal out of “mother’s day” is a bit excessive– motherhood is celebrated every single day in the Church, and again on feasts relating to motherhood. Many people use it as an excuse to be waited on or served, which I think is silly.
    However, for many mothers, mother’s day is the one day of year that someone stops and says the one thing which, to many mothers, gives them the strength to go on: the one day we say THANK YOU.
    Motherhood is a vocation of invisibility. It is a call to being crushed, used, and surrendered to the needs of another, or hopefully, many others. It is the epitome of humility. Mothers every day go without basic human needs like food, water, rest, or sleep in order to do their jobs. Mothers spend more time covered in bodily fluids and abuse for the sake of others than any other “profession.” Many of their efforts are ignored or maligned by their spouses and friends. No one ever knows what “just happened” to a mother, because from the outside it’s almost impossible to imagine what they have gone through in a day. Their work never ends.
    At night, when you are sleeping, they watch unto prayer.
    They give, and give, and give, and give…. even their very bodies. Their hobbies. Their careers. Their hopes and dreams. They give it all away.
    There are different types of motherhood. Each of us women is called to some version of it… whether it is spiritual motherhood or a physical motherhood. But nothing in this world is so important as to honor those who have physically, spiritually, and emotionally suffered to labor and bring forth a human person into this world and then daily given up their lives so that that child would grow to walk aright among us.
    So when my pastor calls for every mother to stand, I encourage every mother to stand. Mothers who have had miscarriages. Mothers whose children have vanished, run off, or died. Mothers who have adopted children.
    I’m sorry for those who this offends. I am! And my heart feels your pain. There is a time and place for us to walk together and celebrate your strength and place in the world.
    But we have mothers SO THAT we will not grow up to live in the place called fear. Those who can stand because their grown children are next to them in the pews clapping should be honored MOST among us. They are the most blessed among women.
    To require others to feel your pain and suffering by removing honor from another is not living in faith. It is not even godly. It is allowing your emotions to control your worldview. Let’s not live in the land of fear and regret and sensitivity.
    In honor of this very special vocation, let’s grow up and live in the place of gratitude, godliness, and respect for those whom God has clearly blessed.
    Miscarriage does not make one unwomanly. Infertility does not make one unwomanly. The only thing that makes a woman less womanly is forcing others to acknowledge your pain and suffer it with you. Real women are stronger than most people ever know, often BECAUSE they cannot stand up in those pews, and can still smile and clap with joy for those who can. Real women are like Mary, saying yes to God, and not like Eve, taking everyone down with them.
    Real women celebrate the successes of their sisters.

    • Amy

      I don’t think this is really about being offended. For most women who are finding comfort in what Amy has written, I think it’s more of a feeling of finally being acknowledged as a hurting person. I also know that as an infertile person (adopting a child doesn’t take away infertility) I’m not “unwomanly”, but I sure have felt that way many, many times. More often than not, church was the hardest place to be during the years I waited to become a mom, and not just on Mother’s Day…

  • Kay

    Beautifully written liturgy… We don’t have people stand anyhow, but I’m going to use some of your ideas in my pastoral prayer on Sunday. Thank you.

  • Ashley

    I am a mother to 4 children ages 12, 10, 7, 2. One of those children has special needs. Life can be crazy, exciting, exhausting, etc. I am also the mother of twin boys that passed away after fighting for life in the NICU on May 11, 2001. It was on a Saturday morning. Due to weather, we had their funeral that Sunday evening…Mother’s day. So many mother’s came out and took time away from “their day” to support, and love on me. I was very young at the time. My husband and I were both just 21 years old. The thing is, those women showed the love of God in my life. I can only pray that I will be as much of a comfort to any woman experiencing that deep of a loss any day of the year, especially on Mother’s Day. The verse that is being argued “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those mourn” is completely being twisted. It doesn’t mean grieve with those unless it is your “special day”. Showing the love of Christ is not about us… it’s taking our eyes off of us. To those who are heartbroken this Mother’s Day, remember that the Lord is near to the broken hearted. He loves you and I pray for you.

  • my View

    There seems to be a huge backlash against Mother’s Day. People said it shouldn’t be celebrated, because any female can give birth. What’s so special about that? Others said it wasn’t fair to elevate one group of women, those with children, over another, those without. That’s all as full of bologna as the sandwich your mother packed in your lunch everyday.

    Yes, most women, baring a medical condition, are able to become pregnant. If you’re one of those women fortunate to conceive easily and have problem-free pregnancies, well, that’s pretty much where the easy part of motherhood stops.

    Once that baby is in your arms the hard work of child rearing begins. If you struggled to become pregnant, suffered through a difficult pregnancy or went through the red-tape of adoption to become a mother, nothing about motherhood was easy for you. So it is hard, but there are a lot of hard jobs out there. That’s not why we celebrate Mother’s Day.

    It’s true that motherhood doesn’t add up to Sainthood. Most moms simply do the best they can with what they have. And in all honesty there are days you feed your kids and take them to school out of nothing more than obligation, because we don’t have the energy for anything else. You all have bad days. Some moms have lots of bad days.

    A woman with children is no more valuable a person to the world than a woman without. Is mom’s work important? Absolutely. She is raising the next generation of potential world-changers.

    There are women without children doing valuable work feeding the poor, developing the next life-altering technology and curing cancer. Mother’s Day isn’t about society giving higher status to women with children.

    Mother’s Day isn’t supposed to be a collective, national holiday like Independence Day. It’s a personal holiday. And here’s a newsflash. Even if you personally are a mother, Mother’s Day isn’t about you. It’s about YOUR mom. The woman who changed your diapers, helped you make a diorama of the Alamo the day before it was due and hung on terrified to the dashboard when you were learning to drive. The women who chose to love you and didn’t throw you out of the house even though she took the brunt of your Middle School angst.

    When we make Mother’s Day about women, who has kids, who doesn’t and who contributes more to society, we get it all wrong.

    It’s simply about saying thank you to the woman who made it possible for you to exist and or kept you alive until you were old enough to be responsible for your own well-being.

    To the world my mom isn’t anymore important than any of the other 7 billion people on this plant. But she means the world to me

  • Michelle

    I’m sure you mean well, out please resist the urge to “commend” birthmothers for their “selflessness”.

    While some women will appreciate this sentiment, there are countless others for whom it will be incredibly hurtful. For many, this ideology was instrumental in convincing them to relinquish their children, with great heartache and regret. Many simply had no other choice. (I suggest reading Anne Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away for a better understanding)

    Remember that those who were relinquished are in the congregation as well. Hearing this phrase in church, on day that can be difficult for adoptees, could be hurtful. It would be quite difficult for me, and is not something I would want my child (adopted)! to hear. Our relinquishments had everything to do with shame and stigma, and quite little to do with selflessness.

    Adoptees’ stories, and our mothers’ stories, are diverse and complex. I understand your intentions, but in this area perhaps a simply acknowledgement would be best.

    • Sarah

      As an adoptee, I would cringe at hearing that. It’s a really tough and touchy subject for some of us.

      And I note, nothing was mentioned about the adopted mothers or children.

  • christel

    I am so glad someone finally understands how I feel. For the past 10 years I ha en chosen to “skip” Mother’s Day services because for me it is too painful. It became such a negative thing to me because I would come home depressed, feelings of not good enough or I’m not enough would overwhelm me. Sure let mothers have their day, but for those of us who long to be mothers, please be sensitive to those feelings as well. I voiced my opinion to my Pastor only to be shot down. So I choose not to go so I can keep my sanity!

  • A.G.

    Okay, so my wife is a paraplegic. She feels alienated during the times when everyone else stands to worship or read God’s Word. Should we expect that everyone not stand so in deference to her feelings? The point is, we all have our areas of deep pain and insecurity, some large and some small. Other people’s actions will always uncover those areas of hurt in our lives, How you react to the world around you is your decision. I have found that when my feelings are hurt, God is using it to pick apart my shell of self sufficiency and pride so that I can bring them to Him for blessed healing.

  • larry

    Your message helps me beyond evaluation.

    Over the years I have met many who as children lost their moms. I stay in contact with more than a few through social media. The consensus is that this Sunday is so difficult. Many avoid church.

    This was the message I sent this year:

    “For those who as children began wearing the white carnation on Mother’s Day, may you find comfort in these days. This Sunday will be my 57th time and at times it is necessary to look at indirect evidence to know how much we were loved by our moms. May you find that as well.”

    I posted your message as well. It has been shared many, many times; I suspect, because it is such a “beautiful and enlightening letter” as a friend commented.


  • john allison

    a pastor did read this. and has struggled with this very situation for years. I might only had a line about adoptive mothers. they are incredible heroes and i know a few who have deeply desired children of their own. however when that became impossible, they amazingly and lovingly embraced a child not of their own flesh and blood…and called them their own. blessings.

  • Donna

    This brings to mind something I read about how those of us who are single tend to get overlooked and our achievements don’t get celebrated; getting a Kitchenmaid mixer upon one’s marriage being the symbol of “accepted achievement” and how some of us long to get one but keep holding out for our future wedding registry. I liked how another commenter explained that a church she was at would celebrate mothering by all women, rather than just traditional mothers. I think churches often overlook those whose achievements aren’t as simple to evaluate and maybe that’s what hurts. Or at least partly.

  • Juanita

    Thank you for starting this discussion. As the biological mother one angel on earth, one in heaven, and 1 by fostering and 3 by marriage I like many others here get it. Many of the ladies here say to non-mothers suck it up it’s not about you. I beg to disagree. At 22 I had the heartbreak of watching my foster child experience neglect and the joy of being able to take over and give the things her biological mother was not. On Mother’s Day I was told don’t stand up your not really a mother. Here I was holding this child in my arms. Waking for 3am feelings nursing fevers and vomit. But I was not her mother! Later my family grew through marriage. I continued to raise and support my now 4 daughters daily. But I was still not a mother, on that day at church. 10 years passed an by God’s grace and mercy I welcomed my biological daughter into the world just in time for yet another Mother’s Day at church. This time I was welcomed and celebrated as a mother. What a slap in the face. I refused to stand that day to honor the mothering relationship I had with my other children. I had after all been a mother for 10 years.

    But enough about me…there is a sweet lady in the church that I grew up in that dedicated her life to the education of the children of the church parish. She was never married and childless. The precious lady changed more diapers, dried more tears and nursed more sick children back to health than many biological mothers could handle. Theses selfless acts are what I thought Mother’s Day was supposed to be celebrating. How dare anyone say that she is less of a mother than the woman who delivered a child. Being a mother is more than giving birth. Just ask Mother Theresa…

  • Kate

    “Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand?”

    Yes, yes, and yes. None of those circumstances make those women any less of a mother.

    I fully expect to see an article about Dad’s in similar circumstances next month. You know, just to keep it all fair and even keel.

  • Jim Hibbard

    Amy thank you for such a compassionate helpful article. My wife and I have been pastoring for over 40 years and we have struggled with not wanting to further hurt women who have not been able to have children but wanting to honor moms. I love your thoughts and will use them tomorrow in our mothers day celebration – thank you. The ‘agape’ love of Jesus asks us to love the hurting as well as those who may not think they are hurting… over the years we have prayed for those who have wanted children and God has seen fit to bless some with their hearts desire, others we still love and stand with in their struggle – we are the Body of Christ and that is what we do… Thank you once again for your willingness to help us love these ladies who desire to have children…

  • Mel

    Some more Biblical precedent 🙂 Paul seems to honor women who are mothers and those who are not–but who are worthy of honor for being like them as well.

    Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.

    If it’s good enough for Paul….lol

    • Pam

      There is an incredible meanness in your comment, Keith. Jesus calls for compassion on those hurt and suffering, yet you dismiss people as whining. I suggest you revisit what Jesus says about how we are to treat each other, because you are not showing Christian love here.

  • Amy

    Wow! Lots of comments and emotional response here! I have read through all of the comments, and I must say that I find some of them very sad.

    I am saddened for all of the women who are experiencing pain this Mother’s Day, no matter the cause. I have been there as one who has dealt with infertility. However, I am also saddened by the number of mothers who see Mother’s Day as the only day they receive any honor. As a mother now, I feel loved and appreciated most days by my husband and daughter. While I appreciate a little extra attention on Mother’s Day, it wouldn’t mean nearly so much if I was taken for granted the rest of the year!

    Frankly, as a mom, I’m a little puzzled by comments that allude to the idea that moms are unrecognized in the church. If anything, I think most churches I know of revolve around moms, children, and families. Perhaps you don’t realize it if it’s been easy for you to be part of this segment of the church body, but believe me, it can be very difficult to be single or childless at church. Think about some of the things that are said, such as motherhood is a woman’s highest calling or the purpose of marriage is to have children. I feel much more included in church now that I am a mother than when I was single and childless. And saying to a person dealing with infertility that she should be able to be happy for moms on one day of the year without thinking of herself is almost laughable! Infertile people are asked to be happy for everyone without thinking of their own feelings on a pretty regular basis… Think: pregnancy announcements (just be happy for someone else’s blessing), baby showers (how selfish to turn down an invitation to a party for a new baby and mom and just send a gift), child dedications (don’t you support the parents in their efforts to raise a child for the Lord?), and that’s just off the tip of my brain!

    Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for me personally. I am so glad to be a mother, but my being a mother came at a cost. We adopted, and my child has another mother who I’m sure grieves the loss of raising her child on this day particularly. My heart hurts when I think of her and how she must feel on this day. I also grieve that I will never have the large family that I dreamed of. So you see, my sadness on Mother’s Day is not merely self pity or selfishness. It’s very complex and hard to understand, and you will not understand if you don’t look beyond the surface. And the years I spent staying out of church on Mother’s Day? Well, I remember one year in particular that I spent time in prayer not only for myself, but also for all of the people for whom I knew the day would be difficult. Honestly, reading some of the comments makes me glad I did stay home, because I would not have made it through a service without tears, and I wouldn’t have wanted my sadness to have ruined your special day.

    All said, I am very thankful that my church honors mothers but also all women who make an impact on the lives of others. I don’t think including other women diminishes the honor due to woman who are mothers, and I don’t think I’ve read anything in this post or the comments saying that Mother’s Day should be done away with. Perhaps celebrating Mother’s Day should make us grateful that there are other women who are building into the lives of our children. Perhaps it should make the blessing of motherhood all the more precious to us when we realize that not every woman has that opportunity. Perhaps it will help us look beyond ourselves and be more compassionate toward others even in our moment of glory.

  • Christie

    I disagree with Amy’s post wholeheartedly and my post will probably not be as gently as BK’s above. There are some things people just look forward to. They may or may not be a biggie to some, but to others they are. Before I became a mother, I also yearned for the day that I could stand in church with other Mother’s. It is not a big thing but at the same time it is somewhat a place of honor. Finally, I was able to stand when Mother’s were asked to stand in church on Mother’s Day. Last year on Mother’s Day I was expecting the same routine but as fate would have it, our pastor’s wife had apparently seen this same article or one much like it and advised her husband he needed to check it out before he finished his Mother’s Day sermon. Well, needless to say Mother’s were not asked to stand in the service that day because some women might feel left out. Last year I had been a Mother for 29 years so I have been standing on Mother’s Day for quite some time, but my heart just broke for the new Mother’s that had been awaiting and looking forward to being able to stand in this place of honor and were so selfishly deprived! Yes, that’s right – it is very selfish to deprive others because of your situation! As the saying goes, feelings are not right or wrong – they just are. It is okay for you to feel as you do, but at the same time is also okay for others to feel the joy they feel. Last years situation reminded me of what we see all too often in today’s world – at the end of the season everyone gets a trophy so that no one is left out. Let’s just always do the “politically correct” thing so that there is no longer a place of honor for anything. I don’t know why God chooses to allow some people to be Mothers and others not to be, but I do know that He has a plan for everyone’s life. Some people are not meant to be married, some not to be Mother’s, some not to climb the corporate ladder, etc., etc., etc. But I do know we are supposed to learn to be happy with whatever our life circumstances are and to realize the place of honor where God has placed us. Don’t deprive others of their place of honor because you haven’t figured out what yours is.

  • Lindy Nice

    Hi Amy, when I read this I was surprised at how your first hand experience mirrored my experience on the “other side”. I wrote a very similar article on my blog this week. I hope you don’t mind but I would like to repost this article in my blog to tell the complete story. I actually am kind of surprised that some of the responses here think that you were somehow trying to take away the honour of being a mother. I think that you were saying that motherhood is more than giving birth to a child. I don’t think that by being aware how other women around us are feeling on this day takes away from the honour intended. One of your responders mentioned that it really is all about God. (My paraphrase). I think that even on this day we should take a look at how we respond and ask ourselves…am I thinking about God or am I thinking about self? We can still stand tall about being mothers, just perhaps with a bit of understanding how the women who remain sitting around you are feeling. In recent years the church I attended have adjusted the way that they do this standing thing. They first begin with women who have given birth and then go through all the forms of “motherhood”. Eventually almost all of the women are standing. In regards to the responses that speak about women having to deal with their own emotions and hurts (again my paraphrase). I acknowledge that they have to on their own bring their hearts and hurts to God, but aren’t we supposed to be His representatives here on earth? Where are we showing that nurturing aspect of ourselves that is the part of God that each of us who are women have? Not pointing fingers here…just asking questions. Thank you so much for showing your heart in this issue and taking the risk of being vulnerable so that you could get your story out there. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    I truly appreciated this…. I am a mother… a mother of 8 children…. well, really 13.., but 5 are not here… I have a lot of compliments on Mother’s Day because people think if you have a large family, you are a “Supermom”, but I just smile and say thanks, because I know I could not do this without the Lord, and I know all my failings… I know what it is like to lose babies and have people think that if you are sad about it or wishing for more, that means you aren’t content somehow…. I know what it is like to have a sister who struggled with infertility for 5 yrs (yes, while I had babies…) and how we worked to keep our relationship strong through that by communicating our difficulties on the two sides of the fertility coin…. I know what it is like to have that same sister leave this world and her precious children behind who are now “motherless” in this world….. I know what it is like to have a very strained relationship with my own mother and not feel close to her… I have had the privilege of knowing some women who were great spiritual mothers and I have even had the privilege of doing some spiritual mothering myself…. I appreciate your post because as a mother, women who have not been able to hold their babies or have babies at all, will often look at me with my 8 children and assume I do not understand, and I know I can never really know…. but I understand more than they realize… so many times, people who try to write about this are resentful or bitter, but your post really recognizes the many facets of motherhood.

  • Vickie

    I don’t know if others have said the same, but why do you have to “mourn” singledom and lack of marriage/children and “grieve” lack of grandchildren? Reading those lines gave me the same feeling that having the mothers stand while you sat gave you. There are numerous couples, who for valid and numerous reasons choose not to have children. You are now alienating them for their decision. I am a 36 year old single woman. I do wish that I had found someone and started a family, but grieving for me feels condescending and like I’m broken. I have accepted that at this point in my life, I will remain single and that is perfectly okay. This post for the most part is about accepting all women, but those two word choices are very, very poor.

  • Daniel

    Mothers are generally honored because of their selflessness. The fact that someone feels badly when others are being honored is that they’re self-centered and envious. Both are sinful. If we can’t rejoice when others are honored, we have a serious problem.

    • Pam

      If you can’t mourn for others, you have a serious problem too. Daniel, I don’t think you understand how it can be for women in the church. All of society holds up the nuclear family as ideal, but the church even moreso. And when you’re a woman who’s single and childless, you can be made to feel like you’ve failed. Sometimes it’s explicit, with people saying motherhood is a woman’s true duty, or saying that you can’t know real love until you’ve had a child. A lot of the time it’s unintentional, just with having women’s groups that talk about how to be a good mother, or sermons that focus on marriage and family, or events that are for families. You might not mean to leave single people out, but sometimes we feel left out.
      I’m by no means unhappy with what I’ve done so far in my life. But I did think I’d be married and have kids by now. I still hope for it, although there’s not all that many years left where that’s a viable option for me. Maybe it won’t happen, maybe it will. I wish I didn’t feel sad that nobody has ever looked at me with romantic desire, but I do feel sad about it. I wish it didn’t bother me that nobody seems to even think I might have romantic desires, but it does bother me. Unfortunately I can’t just wish away my own feelings. I would if I could.
      But what I would ask of you and others like you, is to realise that some of us do feel left out. When we tell you that, please don’t attack us. Instead, show us compassion. Recognise that you’ve been fortunate to get something that is held up as the most important thing in life, something that others would love to have. And let that recognition lead you to humility, rather than the haughtiness you’ve displayed here. Don’t demean us for our sadness, comfort us. Help us feel included. Include us in your lives. That’s all we want.

  • crissi

    This is a bit much. Becoming a mother is a very special, difficult thing. People need to piss off with this politically correct bs. We should honor mothers on mothers day…you don’t like it don’t go to celebrations. Why the hell should we celebrate the single, childless woman on MOTHERS DAY???? Every other day of the year woman in general are put up on a pedestal. Cut the crap people, just because someone feels “left out” we have to stop an important tradition? Are we all in kindergarten still? Grow up and let someone else stand in the limelight for once.

    • Christina

      they didn’t go to a Celebration darling- they went to CHURCH. on a SUNDAY. to worship their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. not a Mothers Day Party. Helluva big difference there honey.

    • Pam

      That’s garbage, though. The church puts mothers on a pedestal. Mothers and family get the limelight all the time. Single women are mostly ignored or pitied. We just want to feel included and be treated as whole people.
      Also, mother’s day is an invention of hallmark, it’s not an important tradition. It’s entirely corporate. I think it’s great for there to be a prayer in church for mothers on mother’s day, but the celebration isn’t the church’s business. That’s for each family to do themselves.

  • Steve Duplantis

    As a pastor, I apologize for your pastor not being there to walk you through your hurt and pain. What you feel towards him should not be directed at those are innocent. Mother’s Day is a day to honor mothers. Even if you are not a mother because of infertility or other medical conditions you can still adopt. It is YOUR CHOICE not to be a mom–don’t steal the joy of those who aren’t in your shoes.. If you walk out of church on Mother’s Day then by default you must also not visit any establishments or stores participating in sales and celebrations, less you be labeled a hypocrit. I suggest a pastor who can help you with this misplaced anger and resentment before it gets too out of control.

    • Amy Young

      Steve, did you notice it wasn’t just one pastor? It happened at two different churches — and from the broad range of comments, not just those two. For the two churches referenced here, one was in the U.S. and one was in China. I’m not a big shopper and don’t plan to do anything that might earn the hypocrite label from you 🙂 (though, I can’t promise I might not do something else hypocritical on Sunday.)

    • Argie

      Read pastor Frank’s comments, he gets it you don’t.

      Ask God to help you see this situation with His eyes, not within the context of your culture, political views, or your American eyes/word view. Most of these women expressing their opinions are not angry, or jealous however, reading this blog has caused me to become angry and sad for the state of church.

  • Ipalm

    Agree! And when Father’s Day comes it is a horror to hear all the pretty speeches about good father figure in our life’s, because a lot of us had molester, sexual abuser, abuser ,alcoholic or etc as a father.With all respect I think it would be great to stick to the main thing for what congregation is getting together- worship God.

  • Frazzled Mom

    Hurray for championing love and compassion! I appreciate this article so much. Mother’s Day is a reminder to me of my non-existent relationship with my own mother. It is painful to feel rejected and unloved by the woman that gave birth to you. Losing our unborn son just a few days before Mother’s Day in 2007 didn’t make it any better. I choose to celebrate the Godly substitute mothers in my life!

  • Camille

    Oh how glad I am that you wrote this! I am a mother but didn’t become one until I was in my 30s. To this day I feel pain on Mother’s Day in church. I often think about just not going because I know so well the feelings of sitting there wanting nothing more than to be a mother, but not being one yet. I love pastors who instead take the day to honor women and womanhood!

  • Jeremy

    As i read these comments and see comments on FB i feel most people are taking the original text the wrong way.

    It’s quite simple in my opinion, it is not saying we should NOT honour mothers, it is only saying we should find OTHER ways to honour them! I don’t think it would be the end of the world for mothers to not stand in church. There are a million ways to honour mothers while being sensitive to those who aren’t whatever the reason.
    I’m not sure why this letter has caused so many mixed feelings for so many people. When i see comments such as:

    ” that it is their own issues and insecurities that is the problem and not the churches”
    ” However, they also need to be able to get their eyes off their own longings and be able to honor mothers”
    ” It is sad that we can’t honor anyone in our society because it might offend someone else ”

    I see people taking a simple plea and turning it into more then it simply is, and themselves not being sensitive and respectful to those who aren’t mothers.

    Again there are a millions ways to honour mothers on mothers day without being insensitive to others. Please let’s not stand in church.

  • Rachel H.

    People are way too overly sensitive about such things and it shows an area of growth needed on the part of those so offended about it. Seriously. The truth hurts I know but strong people who love the Lord and have a desire to grow would look at themselves and ask, “why am I so sensitive about this and why am I so focused on me right now?” Let the moms have a moment and get over yourself to put it bluntly. Don’t mean to be mean but I’m a straight shooter and too much time is wasted tiptoeing around each other. A day will come when you have your moment of recognition in one way or another. I’d encourage those so offended and awkward over moms standing in church for a little recognition to use the offense you are feeling as a springboard to grow and mature and become a more selfless person. You’ll be much happier thinking of others more than yourself. And to those who have had miscarriages or runaway kids or stillborns or whatever, if you feel you are a mother, stand up on Mother’s day and be grateful for the hard but wonderful gift of motherhood. Be ready for the next opportunity to acknowledge the good in those childless women sitting next to you. And to those who aren’t mothers, be proud of those who have given up their own bodies and lives to do their best to raise productive members of society. Be ready to receive acknowledgement the next time it comes your way. And if for some reason it doesn’t come, realize chances are God is allowing it as an opportunity for you to mature, grow, and die to self more.

  • Mark

    Amy, thanks for the thoughtful post. I’m a pastor. We generally find that playing to the cultural holidays in our services is listening to what the world has to say to us. We don’t give Valentine’s day sermons, Mother’s day sermons, or Father’s day sermons. My message on Sunday will be a continuation of the series I’ve been working through. We will recognize the mothers in our midst by means of offering up prayers for them, thanking God for their sacrifice, and their participation to the familia dei. Of course, we also reject the notion of a “family of families.” The church is the family of God and is the fundamental and foundational institution of Christianity and is to the the primary source of our group identity. While we practice “family integrated worship” it has nothing to do with a “family of families.” It’s more recognition of the primacy of the family of God (in particular–the family head–Jesus Christ–who was single and never married by the way) in our identity formation. In reacting to the destruction of the household unit in western civilization, I fear that evangelical Christianity has swung way too far. Of course, that also comes from defining ourselves by our country and not by the Head of our family and to the kingdom to which we belong.

  • Christy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I am a step-mother yet suffer from infertility. Mother’s day is always like a slap in the face to me, since my step-son always spends it with his “real mom.” It always feels like someone is saying, “not only are we going to rub it in your face that you are barren, but we’re going to deprive you of being celebrated for the mothering that you actually do.”

  • hoyajeda

    The problem is not honouring mothers and how others feel…. the problem is the church… talk about an organization that alienates people. No other place I know gets ‘mothers’ to stand like that to be ‘honoured’. I bet there’s a lot of mother’s that don’t stand, for no other reason than what you state here. Any mother I know that do not attend church or any religious group gathering, do not feel this way about Mother’s day… and women who do miss the point. It’s a little like Valentines Day… fabricated.

  • Argie

    I really feel this conversation is a little 1950s. Are women really getting defensive over the practice of standing-up on Mother’s day to celebrate a Hallmark holiday? It’s clear that this practice within the church has been, and continues to be deeply hurtful to a vast number of women. This issue of “standing-up” can be analogous to the issue of eating meat served to idols. If it offends and is hurtful, Christians willingly lay down their rights. Women are debating an issue that is not even Christian. This holiday and especially this practice of standing-up has nothing to do with the Lord and it hurts many of our sisters in the church. If necessary, a simple happy Mother’s Day recognition from the pulpit is plenty, and celebrate after the service with a great brunch.

  • Rachel H.

    Also, should we stop acknowledging veterans in church? There are people who want to join the military but can’t because of various health reasons. We wouldn’t want to offend them. Or what about acknowledging pastors? Maybe we should stop that because there are people who wanted to be pastors but couldn’t afford to go to college or had to quit college to work to support an ailing parent or their wife who surprisingly got pregnant. You can see the absurdity of it all. Infertility, not finding a spouse, or whatever situation you may be in is not always fun. Why does God allow us to go through hard times? It hurts! Really, really bad sometimes. God uses hard or uncomfortable times to help us grow! Thank you God for caring enough about us to not “leave us alone.”

    • Zoe

      Sorry to say that you appear to be judgmental like so many in this blog. Maybe we shouldn’t celebrate Veteran’s day in the church, and what churches celebrate Veteran’s day anyway? Churches around the world don’t celebrate these holidays because they have nothing to do with the gospel. I am a conservative, church going Republican, but maybe not after reading and hearing from the cold hearted, narrow-minded, and shallow women in this blog. Where are the selfless Mother’s? Where are the friends that will lay down their Hallmark rights to not offend or step on another? Mother’s and Father’s are to be honored by their children. Celebrating family, marriage, children, etc., is wonderful but Mother’s Day practices and culturally American style celebrations in the church service offend about half as many of the women it deems to honor. Is that Christian and compassionate?

      Whew, this has been eye-opening.

    • Jeremy

      I agree with you Zoe,
      I’m sorry to say but you do sound very judgemental Rachel, a leading reason so many are afraid to go to church in the first place. You are calling others selfish by not addressing their own issues and not letting people stand in church to receive their recognition. Perhaps, flip the coin, and you are being very selfish by needing that moment of recognition in church despite the possibility of hurting others. I like what zoe said here about mother’s day, veteran’s day, whatever the holiday these are not directly related to the gospel why do we need to celebrate them in church in the first place? Secondly, what is wrong with acknowledging mothers without making them stand? If you feel such a strong desire to be honoured Rachel, please have your family friends all those close to you honour you a million ways outside of church….there is no reason for you to stand in church. what are you gaining from this? I honour my mother and agree that mother’s should be honoured!! but by doing somoething that could hurt others? no…I can think of many ways to honour my mother without hurting others and showing love and respect.

  • Beth

    I’m disappointed that this article does not acknowledge the Child-Free By Choice (CFBC). I’m not a mom, I don’t want to be a mom, and I have multiple health issues that would preclude me from being present in my child’s life if I DID have one (which is why, since I was 17, I did not want to be a mom). I depend on a service dog to even walk steadily. She and my retired dog are my “kids.” And I love my nieces and my nephew and enjoy spending time and doing activities with them. But this article still leaves me out.

  • Doug

    Why did you wait until May 9 to post this? Many Churches, including the one I attend, have already had something to honor mothers and those who mother.

    And why didn’t you go to the pastor and offer to lead out in the honor to mothers this year? After all, the words you wrote above are just lovely.

    Truth be told most pastors I know are so busy trying to keep up with the lost, the hurt, the dying that if someone came to them and said, “Pastor, I have an idea for honoring women this Mother’s Day what do you think?” they would consider your help such a blessing. It would be a relief for you to take something away from them and do it well. One less thing on their plate.

    I just don’t understand why you write an open letter way too late. Your letter is a criticism of pastors who are doing their best. Pastors get kicked around left and right, their life expectancy is lower than average because of the stress of their profession and instead of offering counsel, support and advice you kick them just because you feel you are being kicked.

    Nice, pastors all around this country are feeling your kicks right now and having their members share this when in reality they wish their members would just step up and help.

      • Doug

        Do you know if the author talked to her pastor? If she had asked her pastor I bet he/she would have offered to let her lead out. That is my point. Too often we kick pastors instead of offering advice or helping them with their load.

        • Amy Young

          Agreed! That’s why I wrote this — to help more than just my pastor. And it’s been read in all but seven countries in the world. This seems to be a message God has for more than just one church. Isn’t that encouraging?

    • Amy Young

      Doug, in the spirit of this comment, I have written two other posts trying to gather ideas and resources for pastors. Please feel free to share them with as many as you know. You’re right, pastors have a lot on their plates and my desire has been to try and help.

      10 Ideas for pastors (http://www.messymiddle.com/2013/05/09/10-ideas-for-pastors-on-mothers-day/)

      At least 8 resources for churches on Mother’s Day (http://www.messymiddle.com/resources-for-mother%27s-day)

      And the first church I mentioned was in the US and then I returned to live and work in China — where the second church experience I mentioned happened.

  • Shannon Buchanan

    I have avoid church service on Morther’s Day for years. My mom died when I was 8 years old and she has been gone for almost 44 years. I am a mother of a 19 year old and stepmother to an 18 year old and a 23 year old. However, becoming a mother did not help me get past the uter pain I feel on Mother’s Day. The absolute ache I still feel for my mother. I was just a little girl when she died one day at work of a massive heart attack. She was only 33 when she passed. I have never known the love of a mother and I have never know what it could have been like to relate to my mother on an adult level. I miss being her friend as well as her daughter. As a result, for as long as I have been without my mother, I have always viewed almost every female as a “mother figure”. I have sought a relationship with many females that could closely resemble a mother-daughter relationship. Unfortunately I always come up short because I am seeking something that is unattainable.

  • Kym Michelle Wood

    After reading a few of the replies I am feeling so blessed that my previous church always honoured, recognised and gave appreciation to mothers and mothers to be on Mothers Day. The children in our church would do a special presentation and it was so wonderful to see them. The message was focused on encouraging and supporting mothers in their all important role. Their was no standing up and receiving something for the mothers only and I can relate to how hurtful it would be to have to sit there and watch almost everyone else go up and be honoured. I always felt appreciated and included even though I am not yet a mother. I am now 32 and single I will admit that each year that passes is making it harder to bear. I can not wait to be a wife and mother however that has not happened yet. I am an Early Childhood Educator and I have the honour and privledge of nurturing and caring for children on a daily basis and it is both a challenging and very rewarding career. Overall I agree that we need to celebrate and honour mothers on Mothers Day the challenge is to do it in a way that encourages and supports other women in church no matter what their situation or status is.
    Today is a special and important day so Happy Mothers Day to all the amazing and wonderful women in the world no matter what your situation is or circumstance I truly believe that God has given us a heart to nurture and care for others and for that I celebrate and honour you all!!!!
    God Bless

  • Stew

    I appreciate the thoughtful tribute you include in this post but have to disagree with your message emphatically. One of the things I hate most about the time we live in is that we can no longer celebrate openly because of the fear of hurting or alienating others. Many of our holidays have become generic and lost their meaning because not everyone is included in it. We can’t wish people merry Christmas anymore for fear of offending someone. We can’t have our mothers stand on Mother’s Day to honor them now either? While I’m all for celebrating womanhood in general, this holiday is MOTHER’s Day! It’s not ‘woman’s day’. I’m sorry that others may feel neglected because they have no children or have a special circumstance that has made the day difficult for them but my mother deserves recognition. What is wrong with celebrating the amazing things our moms have done for us? It’s an exclusive holiday because they have done something that others didn’t do. I’m sorry but tomorrow I will celebrate motherhood, not girls-who-haven’t-given-birth-but-want-recognition-day. Harsh? Maybe.

    • Jeremy

      stew you generalized and misinterpreted this letter.
      I”m glad you are celebrating motherhood, as we all should be! This letter is not asking to NOT celebrate motherhood, or to make it a day about women in general as you said, it is simply asking not to make women stand in church. There are millions of other ways we can honour mothers without being insensitive. so yes, lets honour mothers specifically! Nothing wrong with that! but do it in a way that is not hurtful which is easy to do!!!!

  • Adrianne

    you missed those of us who have Fur babies! I cannot have a child naturally, i will have to adopt or foster. UNtil then i have 4 adorable FurBabies, that i love dearly. THEY are my children.

  • Brandi

    From the mom of a beautiful stillborn daughter (born this February), THANK YOU, Amy. Her special Mother’s Day onesie is collecting dust in the nursery closet. You really summed up how I have been feeling in anticipation of tomorrow. My church not only has the moms stand, but the kids bring a flower to each one. I have been thinking, “which would hurt the most? Getting a flower, or not getting a flower?” I would be a wreck either way, so I am staying home.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Amy Young

      Brandi, I can see why you’d be a wreck either way! Flower or no flower … the simple truth is your baby is not here. May many sense what a hard day it will be for you and find ways to minister to you. I really mean it when I say I’ll pray for you on Mother’s Day. With love, Amy

  • Wendy

    Thank you! As a perennial step-mom, I don’t feel right standing even though I have raised 2 sets of kids since they were toddlers. I actually told a friend today I don’t like going to church on Mother’s Day!

  • Chelsea

    Thank you for a beautiful article.
    I don’t have children, but I don’t mind having all of the mother’s stand on their day or be celebrated. I think it is more insulting to have people try to turn the day into “women’s day” Uck. Mother’s (the good ones, anyway,) work hard, put up with a lot, sacrifice a lot, and are usually very taken for granted for all they do. Let them have a day. Let everyone laud them and pamper them and give them flowers. Life is too short not to celebrate.

  • CathyAnn

    Thank you so much for sharing this. The same thing happened to me in church, and I would never again be there on Mother’s Day. I was childless, had no significant other, and my mother had disappeared. I pray that many clergy will read this article.

  • Frank

    Tomorrow will be Mother’s day! And for many years as a senior pastor I have refrained from preaching a special sermon addressing mothers or fathers. I am aware of the complexity and psychological joys and challenges of both roles; I am also aware of the hurts, pain, abuse etc. etc. of those unknowns sitting in a pew hoping only for some encouragement or word of hope from the message I deliver. Amy, you can share your reflections at my church at any time; they hit deep in the place that has been a place of safety for me and have prevented me from ever asking mothers to stand or praising the role of mom or dad on either special day; I have suffered abuse from both in my life so at best, I will always stand with one in need away from the pulpit and reserve that pastoral support or encouragement in another place at another time. So, if you came to my church (and of course I know that will not happen) not only would you not have to stand, but I would do all I could to be a strong source of encouragement and very sensitive to what I know about the mothers there and those who are not mothers or have suffered in another way.

    • Amy Young

      Frank, I have found the vast majority of pastors and priests to express the sentiments you have here. And if I could, I’d pop in to your office for a chat! 🙂

    • Argie

      Beautiful! Finally, a church leader that is wise, spiritually mature, compassionate and understands his flock. The voiceless, silent ones have always felt the cold heartedness of the sentiments expressed by too many women in this blog but never really believed it to be true. However, hearing the cold, harsh words, and JUDGEMENTAL attitudes of these Christian Mother’s towards their fellow Christian sisters, and friends (maybe) is truly shocking. They sound and look like Peninnah, the rival wife of Hannah, mother of the future Samuel, who was cruel and mean to Hannah when she was childless. Many of the wives and mother’s in the church today or a least in this blog are a modern reflection of this ancient attitude and fully lacking in compassion. I wish I could attend your church service today. God bless!

  • Julie

    I have to admit I had to quit reading the comments! But the article was right on. As I’ve always thought, people who have never been through infertility have no idea how incredibly painful it is. I have been blessed with three beautiful children from China but there were many years when I dreaded Mother’s Day. I wasn’t trying to make it about myself or not honor the good mothers. I have an incredible mother! But I knew when all the Mother’s Day stuff started at church, I would have a hard time controlling myself. Once I was actually on the stage playing the keyboard while a deacon did the Mother’s Day prayer and I had to run off the stage and to a room upstairs. I was trembling and in deep despair. So of course I do not think he shouldn’t have said the prayer. It was my own issue. But for so long I felt like I suffered in silence. I threw every baby shower and heard all the complaints about how hard it was to have a newborn and you’ll never understand. I just thank God he brought me through those years and I learned to depend on him for everything! There were days I didn’t know if I could go on living. I don’t want people to tiptoe around me but I think this was a great article to help people understand that there are other perspectives and there are people in pain and we should be sensitive to that including people who have lost their mother already or who had an abusive mother.

  • Kelly

    Thank you for posting this. My husband (who is a pastor) and I were just talking about what we are doing in the service tomorrow. We have flowers for all the women in the church and there will be no standing. We have good friends and family who have suffered infertility and know how hard mother’s day can be for them. I love the fact that your post was about how to honor all the women who mother whether as a biological mom or as a spiritual, mentor mom. I don’t believe that Amy’s intent was to be politically correct in the church, but as a reminder that while we are honoring mother’s to extend compassion to those who may struggle with the day.

  • Walter Lanier (Pastor)

    A great article –

    Preaching mother’s days is not easy at all for many of the reason you raise here. it requires great sensitivities at a time when people sometimes feel it is time for universal celebration.

    Thank you for this.

  • Karen

    As a Catholic, I was recently relieved to find that at a Sunday Mass on Mother’s Day, the Priest’s homily very sensitively included acknowledgment of women who have experienced various types of losses. In that way, he honored those who had the heart to serve as Mothers serve; his focus included greater breadth than I’m able to express here. That simple effort meant so much. We anticipate honoring Mothers when we go to Mass that day, but the depth of loss felt at not being one, is so significant that words of inclusion really are not too much to ask. And there is no room for traditional Moms to “get preachy” about “God’s Will” when speaking to women who have experienced such losses. The fact that women will do that, as evidenced in comments below this article, is what stuns me the most. The Priest’s efforts demonstrated that there is more than “one way” to go about honoring, on that day, both traditional Moms and women who have experienced losses or have otherwise contributed in the manner of a mother. Whether Moms stand up or not, the pain is definitely eased by the type of approach taken in that homily.

  • DB

    I am reading these comments, and I see there are so many who just don’t understand the pain that mothers without children go through on Mothers’ Day… in church. In church (!) of all places. My wife and I are infertile and I can’t stand to watch the humiliation my wife goes through most years. We move a lot, and so we never know how the honor is going to unfold in church that year. We have friends in the same boat who plan a mission trip with a college group that “happens” to fall on the weekend of Mothers’ Day each year. These are good people who are well-balanced.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand the obsession by some to insist on being honored at the expense of others. We don’t have a problem with honoring mothers, we have a problem with the de facto humiliation of those who are not. I like the way of honoring all women. Most non-mothers find a way of serving in a mentoring role in some form in the church anyway. But for those who do not understand, well… bless your heart.

  • B

    Thanks for this post. For almost 19 years, I have longed to acknowledge the three children I will never know on earth. I’ve never stood because standing would mean people would learn about the choices I made years ago. Yes, I made a choice, but I grieve. I mourn what I lost by my own choices. There are a lot of women like me. The ones who desperately want to hear Happy Mother’s Day but fear what it would cost to reveal that desire.

  • Katie

    To all who think mothers “deserve” to get to stand for their achievement of motherhood I say- shall we then have a day where married people stand while singles sit? Or where those with material wealth stand while the poor remain seated? Church isn’t a place to celebrate our achievements, it is a place to worship and learn and encourage one another in love.

  • Jonathan

    Thanks so much for this perspective. I have women in my church that will not come to church on Mother’s Day because they say it hurts too much. Through your post I have been reminded how sensitive this day is and how careful we have to be in recognizing different feelings associated with motherhood. Thanks again.

  • Cindy Cleaver

    At first I thought that maybe we should put a list like yours in the church bulletin, but then I realized that it make many women weep, even me, the mother to two autistic children. Although most women can “achieve” motherhood by having sex, it is the follow-thru that is the real focus of motherhood. May your children call you blessed. I wouldn’t do away with mother’s day. My 26 year old son gave me a card for mother’s day which made me very happy.

    As to feeling bad about not being recognized because you are unable to do something, it is a dilemma. Are we to stop honoring veterans because some men, like my son, are unable to serve?

    Perhaps we should celebrate all women on mother’s day for their wonderful qualities. Perhaps we should celebrate all men on Father’s day as well.

    • Cindy Cleaver

      Today, our church had a sermon about mothers who pray, thanking those who prayed for us, and helping us to pray for the children in our lives. Then a flower was given out to every adult woman.

  • Lesley

    I love this article.
    Except the part with mourning with single women because our lives haven’t gone how we had hoped. I’m a single woman who does wish she was married and raising kids, but I don’t want to be “mourned for.” I’m not dead; I just don’t happen to be married.
    Like I said, totally get what you’re saying. I’m just saying that if a pastor told me that he mourned with me because I was single I would walk out and never come back. Ain’t nobody got time for that. My life is awesome–exactly where God wants me right now–and I do not need ANYONE “mourning” for me.

  • Elizabeth

    Ok, look. The command to honor one’s (father and) mother is a command related to individual households.

    As important as mothers are, “Mother’s Day” still is not a liturgical holiday intended to be celebrated in the context of public worship. Even in the times when the Church specifically lifts up certain women such as the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth, we commend them because they point to Christ, not because of their personal procreational achievements.

    What on earth is wrong with a simple note during the announcement time saying, “To all those who are celebrating Mother’s Day, I’m so glad that you’ve been blessed by those relationships. I also know that a lot of people really struggle today because innumerable angles to Mother’s Day and motherhood in general. Please know that it’s okay to feel pained or unsettled, that God walks with you on whatever road you are traveling, and your church is holding you in prayer. With that said, let’s turn to Jesus, who had a mother, but was not himself a mother! :)”

    I really appreciate the OP, and I thought I’d add a link to what I’ll be preaching tomorrow.

    May the peace of God, which passes all understandings, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


  • jam

    I don’t usually get on blogs but this one looked interesting so thought I would check it out. I cannot believe what I read. How selfish and self centered some of these comments are. We should be supporting, praying and rejoicing for those that are mothers not how horrible you feel because “YOU” cannot stand up when the Pastor asks the mother’s to. How petty. I agree with Linda and stew. Be happy for those mothers because motherhood is a difficult job. Maybe if you non-mothers feel so strongly about not getting recognized and want “your 15 minutes of fame” you should petition congress to recognize you by establishing ” a Non-mothers day”. Get a life ladies, get over it, so you can move forward in life and begrudge others of special recognition. It is people like you who have complained to the point that we can no long say “Merry Christmas”, and have to be so worried about what we say in order that we don’t offend someone else. This is life!!!! Be happy for others and stop trying to steal their joy. Pray for God to give you a joyful heart, and heal your personal pain.

    • c

      To all of you with the mean comments towards those feeling left out on the fringes. You don’t get it do you? It is not a pity party. It is not self centerdness or self absorption. It would be difficult for you to even comprehend how awkward and uncomfortable it is. You are stared at, pushed to get up, wished a happy mother’s day simply because you are assumed to have a uterus. It is uncomfortable for a varying degree of reasons. Those of us who liked this post was because it voiced what we feel. You can have your parade, your cards, your gifts, accolades, whatever you feel you deserve, however, the rest of us do not have to participate. This is why I don’t go to church on Mother’s day or Father’s day. I lost my mom and have no children and do not want to be reminded. I had a lousy earthly father and do not want to be reminded of this either. If your desire to be celebrated is greater than the compassion for those who feel the way they do, then have your celebration. We will continue to stay away and avoid the holiday altogether. What strikes me most is that those of you who have children are no different than those women who mocked Hannah and Sarah when they were barren. Obviously, God had compassion on these women. The reason we don’t like to go to church is because of the stares and assumptions. Many women do not want children and many others could not have or have lost a child. But, since you want your day you should have it without regards to the feeling of others. Thank God for Paul who said if eating meat causes his brother to stumble, then he won’t eat meat…so much for other centerdness…how are you any different than those you criticize.

    • Jeremy

      “selfish and self-centered” for not getting their “fifteen minutes of fame”? you have NO idea how narrow minded and ignorant that makes you sound does it? These women are not looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, they are not jealous, it is not a pity party, furthermore they are not asking that mothers not be recognized, just not by standing in church! thats it!!! i’m sorry you feel that the only way to honour a mother is for them stand in church despite hurting others. Can mothers not be celebrated outside of church? Can we not show a little love and respect and empathy to those that may be in pain?

  • Anna

    I don’t like Mother’s Day, and I am a mother now. Before I got pregnant, well-meaning people at church would call me a “future mother” and hand me a flower, which made me uncomfortable–at the time I wasn’t sure if we were meant to have a child, and by no means assured of being able to. Then last year, when I was pregnant, I was miserable–rough pregnancy combined with Mother’s Day equals me feeling like crap for not being a better parent, despite the reality being that I was doing the best I could. I hate the sermons going on about how wonderful mothers are, because that is not the only thing I am, and not the only thing women can be. I’m more than a little wary about tomorrow’s church service. One of our pastors does the typical Mother’s Day sermon, and the other one tends to use holidays as a way to segue into that week’s Scripture reading, so the sermon tends to be less about the holiday and more about whatever we’ve been studying as a church. So, depending on who’s preaching, I may be hiding in the nursery with my daughter, being a mother, and not listening to the sermon.

  • Debbie

    I think in a way that all women are Mothers and they should all stand!! After all,women are teachers,nurses,ministers,doctors etc..and that is all in nurturing and caring for children,and even a mom that has had had a child and lost that child ….she is still a mom,she may have miscarried or lost to a sickness,accident,but she is still a MOM……. So I am saying HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the wonderful ladies in our world!!!

  • jj

    Thank you Amy. I don’t know where woman are getting that you are saying women who are Mother’s shouldn’t be honored. I see the opposite. You are saying honor all. It is incredible to me how mean women who say they are Christ followers can be to other women. I am sure Christ’s heart is breaking over some of these comments. Too often, women in the church are judgmental, harsh, stand-offish, and leave women without kids out of everything. It’s sad, it’s disappointing, and it’s so not like Christ honoring, not to mention not honoring to other women, our sisters in Christ.

  • Julia

    Mother’s day is very difficult for me. I’ve had two miscarriages that no one really knows about (except my fiance and a few close friends). My parents have no idea and, as my dad is the pastor of my church, I feel like I cannot stand with the other moms. It is very painful, especially considering that I normally help hand out the gifts for the moms.

    Thankfully, this year I will be back in the nursery helping watch the babies. Just holding a child is a very healing experience. So it helps to be in the nursery and away from all of that.

    My concern this year is for a relatively new woman that has been coming to the church. She had an abortion a few years ago and she regrets it terribly. I cannot imagine the pain she is feeling right now. She was lied to by her doctors about her own health, she was lied to about fetal development and what her baby actually looked like, she was forced by society (and the church, in my opinion) onto that cold table for her baby to die because no one was there to help her or love her. My children passed away by natural means, but hers was killed. Her pain right now is 10x what mine is and I have no idea how to help her. I want to take her into my arms and hug her until the emotional pain stops. 🙁

  • Esther

    I am sitting in front of my computer, hands on the keyboard, trying to decide what to say.
    Although I understand where Amy is coming from, and I understand the pain other women may be feeling, I don’t share the idea that not being able to stand on mother’s day should be humilliating or painful.
    Should we not honor the soldier that came back, because others didn’t, and that is painful to their surviving families?
    Should I feel offended or humilliated on Valentine’s day, because I am not in a relationship?
    Should we stop the blessing of pets because little Jimmy is allergic and can’t have any?
    I am sure there are other instances when these wonderful ladies are honored for other accomplishments. Should I then, write a post saying it is hurful to me because she is standing and I am not? We are all made different. We were put on this Earth to serve in different ways. Some of us have been blessed with children. Others have been blessed with other gifts.
    I feel for the girl that had five miscarriages. I feel for the lady that lost 4 of her 5 children. But that is not what this day is about.
    Can we find other ways to honor mothers? Sure. But if not being able to stand and be appreciated on ONE SUNDAY of the year, makes you quit going to church, you were just looking for an excuse to leave.
    I myself have been blessed with three children. But mother’s day is no picnic. One of my kids has left the family, for reasons that don’t matter to this conversation, and I miss her dearly. Every birthday, Christmas Eve dinner, mother’s day, or any other family holiday, the pain is made worse. Should I request these holidays be celebrated differently by the whole congregation because I, for my own personal reasons, cannot rejoice?
    We live in a society that has become so obsessed with personal rights and being politically correct, that we have forgotten how to be community. We have forgotten how to be happy for our neighbors blessings, because we are so caught up in our own self pity or self righteousness.


    • Amy

      I would encourage you to reread some of the comments people have left. It’s not about rights, being PC, taking away from the joy of others. What is wrong with honoring a group of well deserving people while at the same time acknowledging that it’s a hard day for others? I truly just don’t understand this thinking. If someone just said to you, “I bet this holiday is a little tough for you because of x,y,z.”, wouldn’t you appreciate their thoughtfulness?

    • Jeremy

      “I don’t share the idea that not being able to stand on mother’s day should be humilliating or painful”. Does that mean it is not humiliating or painful, because alot of women have commented so far saying that is exactly how it feels! and i’m sorry if you feel that you must stand in church in despite making people feel this way which they will.

      “we have forgotten how to be a community” – a community would support and love each other without excluding others. Honour mothers yes!! and do it as a community!! just don’t do it at the cost of others which is what standing in church does…and what you are advocating for….

      “because we are so caught up in our own self pity or self righteousness” – This is not the reason people advocate against standing in church though i’m sorry you are so judgemental towards people in pain and those with insecurities that you feel that it is only peoples self pity that is making them advocate against it. They want to honour mothers as much as you. Just not by standing and hurting others. Honour them as a community without hurting others. Just as we can honour father’s, or veterans or any other holiday without being insensitive.

  • Margi

    Thank you Amy for writing this! I am 60 years old and have never had born children. I have been pregnant but the baby didn’t reach full term. I have not been pregnant since. I have step children all grown up and their children call me granny! I am blessed. However, since our church started asking mothers to stand up some 5 years ago, I couldn’t in all integrity stand as I am not a mother in the biological sense. I will not lie to make it comfortable. I accepted it for years (prior to this, roses were handed out at the door to all women which was lovely). I am a mother figure to many and I get Mother’s Day wishes from special young women who see me as this. However 3 years ago, all mothers were asked to stand in our church and the Sunday School children were to give all standing women a cup cake. Nice idea and happy for the mums who were proud to be standing. One well meaning lady who knows my circumstances left her seat to walk to me in the middle and said “here, I want you to have my cupcake” – her act of kindness undid me! So today I am not in church. It is my choice and I am very happy for the women who are blessed with children to stand. There will probably be comments about me being self centered etc..it’s fine. I am secure enough to handle it but please take care to not judge unless you have walked a mile in another woman’s shoes. I have a young friend who is 38 years old, had her ovaries removed at 18 due to cancer, has had IVF failed twice (she has her womb) and is waiting for an adoption….her pain is every day, not just Mother’s Day, but she too doesn’t go to our church on Mother’s Day but she never fails to send me a happy Mother’s Day message as her mom is dead and she knows exactly how it feels.

  • Katrina Hepworth

    I have just been to lunch with my beautiful mum who deserves all of the accolades in the world for what she has done for me. However, today is a tough day for me as I have not been blessed with the priviledge of being a mum. Today, as with any day, I walk side by side with the mums of the world. And today I will squeeze the hand of women who aren’t called ‘mum’ a little tighter. Thanks Amy!

  • Gloria

    As a woman with no children I used to not go to church on Mother’s Day. I stood once and felt it was unfair and didn’t really honor the ones that were actually moms. I still don’t go, but decided that if I did go, I could actually join the others in honoring those that deserve the honor. I also realized that not standing actually creates awareness that there are people that may need care because they don’t have family. A pastor might want to create a day shortly after Mother’s Day to give honor to those that have found their peace through various other involvements.

  • Tom Trinidad

    You all might find two things just re-published this week helpful and encouraging. The first appears in a book by a “non-mom” being published this month. It is a liturgy I wrote several years ago for Mothers’ Day which is as inclusive as you’re advocating for. It can be found at http://beatingonthechestofgod.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/mothers-day-suggestion/
    The second is an article on the idolatry of God as “Father”, written also for a Mothers’ Day audience. It can be found at http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/05/09/how-mothers-day-challenges-a-cherished-christian-idol-god-as-father/32013
    Have a blessed 4th Sunday of Easter!

  • Helen

    I find it interesting that a lot of people commenting here cannot empathize with others. By all means, have your opinion but ‘get over it’ for something that is symbolic of a much bigger issue is sadly not very human and not what I would call Christian.

    Several points to be made –
    the lady who created Mother’s Day died fighting what it had become. It was created only 100 years ago to honor and celebrate your OWN mother. Marketing took it from there. Is not the love of your own children and their thanks enough? It’s like social media – we all want our successes known publicly.

    I completely agree with a comment above that I don’t want others to ‘mourn’ for me. Don’t feel sorry for ME. However, I do mourn the loss of my miscarried babies.

    This is an issue in the bigger sense of society. Those of us who do not have children often have to find new meaning in our lives. I was going to be a mother. For years my life has been put on hold trying to become a mother. My heart has broken month after month and failure after failure has left me broken. For those of you fortunate enough to never have gone through this, can you really not at least understand our pain?

    Some of us will never be celebrated by society and please try to understand how that feels. How are we supposed to feel like we can contribute to society? I would rather we celebrated the beauty of humanity as a whole and were thankful for everything rather than single out certain fortunate members of society. Why celebrate the rich? Isn’t being fortunate in the first place celebration enough?

    By far the majority of women are mothers. It is a beautiful thing for the ‘haves’ to respect and have compassion for the ‘have nots’.

    I work very hard but there are many around me not so fortunate as to be employed. Should those who ‘work hard for our society’ get to stand while those who are unemployed sit and feel worthless? Because likening it to being a veteran is not right. The majority of men are not veterans. This is about feeling included in society. Like a valued, loved and included member of a team headed down the path of compassion and empathy not judgment and ridicule.

  • Caryn

    This is a beautiful article.
    Yes, mother’s of miscarried children are mothers! I am a mother of nine, but only five made it to their birth day. Even if I didn’t have the five, I would still have four children waiting for me with God. If life begins at conception, as Christians believe, then so does motherhood and fatherhood. (Yes, fathers of miscarried children are fathers!)
    In spite of having living children, I still wouldn’t like to stand. It makes me uncomfortable. I think a beautiful way to honor all kinds of motherhood would be to read your tribute to mothers aloud – with no standing!

  • Ann Kilter

    We all have a mother or have had a mother that we can honor, whether alive or dead. At the very least, she has given us life.

    My husband’s mother passed away last June. This will be a sad Mother’s day for him.

    One of the 10 commandments is “Honor thy father and mother.” There is nothing ambiguous about that commandment. Maybe we should focus on our own mothers, rather than just the condition of motherhood. Everyone can and should honor their own mother, regardless of her ability to be the perfect mom.

  • Leslie Montgomery

    When a pastor asks the Mother’s to stand on Mother’s Day, every woman should stand – even if they don’t have “biological” children, or whatever their circumstances, because every woman is a mother to someone in some way (for many of us, it to our husbands- okay, I’m joking here, sort-of). A mother is not defined by how many biological children she has, but by how many hearts she has touched. Believers come from a heritage where it took a “Body” (of Christ) to raise a child, so let’s take our thoughts captive and the lies that play in our head from our pasts that repeatedly define what a mother is from the world’s perspective and replace it with the truth of the Gospel. YOU ARE A MOTHER; maybe not in the way you envisioned, but every child’s life you touch or help shape will always be a part of you and vice versa. And before I get slammed with people saying ‘You don’t understand,’ know that I do; I’ve had miscarriages, I’ve lost a child at six weeks, I’ve had a child who disowned me because I am a Christian and she’s become a Mormon, I have a special needs child who doesn’t even know who I am half the time, and I’ve gone through hell with in-vitro to have two more. None-the-less, it’s about perspective and opportunity. I love children, and I try to take every opportunity the Lord gives me to speak into children’s lives – every child, and that’s what a real mom does – something you can do too! It’s just as rewarding! Matter-of-fact, I’m going to even try to adopt a baby girl in the next year or two at the Lord’s prompting. From the beginning of time God has ordained that child to be mine, so even if she’s not blood, I’m her mother….I’m just saying all of this because I love you all so much and I want you to know and believe the truth! 😉 Leslie

  • Grace

    Thank you for this open letter! Personally I found it helpful and encouraging. I read it to the congregation during the service this morning and it touched a number of us. One lady, particularly touched by it spoke to me after the service. Among her comments was a concern that it only covers most groups. Her particular concern is for her friends who have had abortions. Can this letter be extended to include these women? I don’t know if other groups are not included, I can’t think of any. This lady’s point was that churches don’t deal well with those who have had an abortion and when hearing this otherwise fabulous letter they would feel that even this does not include them. I don’t have personal experience of this aspect at all but it must be even more difficult for those who come to church or indeed to Christ after having an abortion and find that their situation is so unrecognised and so unable to be dealt with by the church. Have you read the book, Ressurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey? I highly recommend it. He tells the story of their struggles as a Christian infertile couple. Well worth reading even though it was painful to go through that experience with them through the reading of it. I know then at the time they were going through some of this and I had no idea that they too were struggling with it. It’s not normally something shared like this but God is using the book he asked Sheridan to write.

    • Jeremy

      You read that article, and this is what you got from it?? sigh…does it say anywhere in the article NOT to celebrate mother’s day or honour mother? Yes i’m sure every one of the people that agree with this article believe their own mothers should be celebrated and honoured…Just not by standing in church at the cost of others…I sure hope you can think of another way to honour your mother without standing in chruch at the cost of others..cause guarenteed my mother will feel honoured and celebrated today and it won’t be at the cost of others.

  • m

    Julia, and Amber, thank you for being so compassionate and caring.As a non mother, I feel I am not alone anymore.

  • Jill

    I haven’t read through all of the comments, so maybe this was mentioned, but I would add teachers to your list. I don’t children of my own, but I do have 21 kids. I give hugs, treat boo-boos, dole out discipline, listen to their stories, in addition to teaching them academics and how to be a good friend. 🙂

  • Christine

    This is an amazing piece and thank you so much for writing it.

    This Mother’s day is particularly hard for me for a variety of reasons. I have no children of my own and am a stepmother to two adult children. My story of why I don’t have my own kids is long and complicated and involves some medical issues and some decisions on my part. I am also 43 and possibly about to undergo some testing/possible surgery that may completely end all chances of giving birth.

    I am a regular church goer. This scenario descibed about standing up in church has never happened to me and my previous pastor handled Mother’s Day very well, I thought. We have a temporary pastor, who is a mother. She is wonderful, but keeps asking me about being a mother myself, at a time where the subject is very difficult. It is not her fault, she doesn’t know, but I couldn’t chance going to church this morning, surrounded by all mothers, and possibly have to deal with insensitive comments so I stayed home. My husband understands and he needs to go as he is a deacon.

    I went for a run, spoke to God out in nature, and will celebrate the afternoon with my own mother. Then, I will be relieved when the day is done.

    But, this article resonates with me because I am a mother figure to so many. I am a stepmother, a godmother, friend, Big Sister to 2 boys, a school nurse, the list goes on and on. So thank you for recognizing that because few people do..with the exception of my husband and stepdaughter.

  • Bergii

    This is the problem with the world today. Don’t get me wrong, I empathize with the way some women feel as described in this article. This is not a long “hater” rant, just a thoughtful discussion of the other-side-of-the-coin. My tone is one of love and support for ALL women. Mothers or not.

    First off, I truly love your thoughts on acknowledging the wide continuum of mothering and believe this should be part of the service…but what is wrong with asking mothers to stand to be honored?

    Honoring mothers on the one day set aside for them should not make ANYONE feel bad. I would bet that many of those women feeling this way find their judgement of themselves is much more harsh than what really exists.

    Let me qualify my experiences with motherhood…I had my first child as an unwed mother at 16. Unable to care for him, a family member raised him as their own. At 22, my husband and I experienced the devastating death of my second child at only two days old. Her death destroyed our marriage and ultimately tore us apart. For the last 10 years, my second husband and I have tried to conceive and have been told it will be nearly impossible. Now that I am in my mid-40s, the hopes of having another child are all but out the window.

    But, if I was in Sunday service and my pastor asked mothers to stand…would I stand…YES! Not because I would feel empty to not stand, but because I AM a mother. I may not be a mother in the traditional sense. No one brings me flowers or hand-written cards on Mother’s Day, but I AM a mother nonetheless. I FEEL like a mother. Should the mother of a runaway stand…OF COURSE, the pregnant,single mother…YES, the woman who has experienced a miscarriage…ABSOLUTELY YES! what about the woman who had been pregnant, chose to abort and regrets that decision? I think if she feels like a mother she should stand. God already knows she is a mother anyway. Should the infertile woman who has selected pets as her furry children stand…WHY NOT? AND, the church members should support all of them. If members of the church are so judgemental that they can’t do this for their sitsters in Christ, it isn’t the pastor’s approach to honoring mothers that should change, but the members themselves should pay more attention to God’s word and a little less to their neighbors’ situations.

    Why can’t women just be happy for other women? Why, if you are a non-mother sitting, would you feel that it is all about you at that moment (asking supportively)? Because, it isn’t. I bet no one except you even noticed you were sitting. Your mother is standing…why not take the moment in which you are thinking about yourself and how you may look to others to think of the many hours your mother showered you with love and cared for your needs? It is a simple change in thought pattern. Why does sitting mean there is something inherently wrong with you…or that you aren’t a REAL woman? And, more importantly, why do you feel it indicates something wrong with the other women still sitting?

    There are times in our lives we just have to put our own feelings aside and bathe in the joy of others. It took me a long time after my daughter’s death to attend baby showers and kids’ birthday parties. In addition to missing her and all that comes with raising a child, I thought people would see me a different…a mother without a child…damaged. But, once I finally got over myself and realized these events aren’t about me at all (not in the tiniest way), my life was more full in ways I couldn’t imagine.

    Motherhood SHOULD be outwardly honored. Motherhood is otherwise a thankless job. Just because you are a not a mother, does not make you LESS of a woman. Many women CHOOSE not to be mothers and that should be acceptable. For those who did not choose to be childless themselves, God made the choice for them. And, believe it or not, there is a reason for it according to his will. It is NOT a punishment. Accpet it as his will and be thankful for what God HAS bestowed upon you which is uniquely yours.

    Praying ALL the mothers out there enjoy their day.

  • Ray

    To those having a problem with this article, I encourage you to read the story of Ruth and Naomi to the end (it’s short) and then try to honestly tell me that honouring Naomi on Mother’s Day too somehow diminishes Ruth. Open your heart to the suffering, it doesn’t hurt moms at all.

  • K

    I’ve read through all the comments and feel there is a vital aspect of this conversation missing…
    What about the children?
    We have just recently started attending a new church. Today I was asked to stand and receive a gift from my children (that they made in sunday school)… What proud eager little faces who came to present their gift to me. They are learning about honor, about giving to others, about love… The enjoyment THEY got out of it was everything…. It was not about seeking recognition or accolades as a mother, rather freely accepting the love and honor of my children. I couldn’t care less about whether other members of the congregation honored me… it was all about my kids, and what a shame if they missed the opportunity to have that experience if the church was too afraid to continue the practice for fear of not being PC. My Mum had 5 miscarriages and was also forced to give her first baby up for adoption, Mother’s Day is bittersweet for her, as it is for so many others…. I have not experienced the physical loss of a child, however my youngest child is severely disabled… and so I have grieved over the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for him as I carried him inside. Every one of us has wounds that even after many years are raw and ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick’, but maybe if we all were more open with each other and shared our joys and sorrows with each other then this standing up on Mother’s Day issue wouldn’t be an issue anymore… If all women felt they were understood, loved, cherished, appreciated, respected, validated, honored and their losses and pains were acknowledged and ministered to then there wouldn’t be a need for diminishing the significance of this special moment between children and their mothers. In the years before we finally conceived our first child I would never have dreamed of begrudging all the mothers that special moment when their ‘children arise and call her blessed’!!

  • Jenny

    Perhaps, next time we should advocate “Not to send flowers” because it might make someone feel awkward or hurt their feelings that they are not receiving any????

  • Milie

    Hi Amy – I am now 70 years old and all the children I have had have had four legs. This was not my choice but the Lords. However, for many years and still to this day I wonder why? Some people would tell me why have you not had kids, are you selfish? Are you one of THOSE people that think their freedom is better than putting up with kids? Please don’t speak without having the facts straight. For years I tried everything to get pregnant. The doctors could never find a reason for my infertility – I was just not blessed. Am I a bad person? Then I see in the news the Mom that drowned her five children. The other Mom that drove her kids into the river and drowned them. Mothers that abandon their kids, leave them in the hospital or put them in the garbage. I could never do any of those things. When I was goring up all I ever wanted was to get married and have a houseful of kids. Where did I go wrong? I hear of women having abortions – Why when there are so many people looking for children to adopt? I never qualified for adoption financially – is that why God didn’t give me children? But there are children living in squalor, going hungry every day. Surely I could have clothed, fed and loved a child or children, even with my less that six figure income. I am sorry but women that have had no trouble getting pregnant and have had healthy babies just don’t understand what it is like to never feel a baby moving inside of you, never holding that tiny bundle in your arms and know it came from you. How blessed they are! Standing in church on Sunday because you are a Mom and me sitting with my eyes on my hands in my empty lap – it is VERY difficult. It brings out envy and hurt and a feeling that you are less than those women who have been so blessed. When I am gone, all I can leave behind is memories in my family’s mind and hearts. My Sister and her children and grandchildren might remember me as the funny Aunt that was always there for holidays, special occasions, birthdays, games, graduations, weddings, new babies. At least I hope they will remember me. Maybe in my past life I was a harried Mom with so many children that when I died, I asked God to let me reincarnate into a childless life so that I could rest?? then why make me feel so empty? Perhaps lesson learned! Be careful what you wish for!!

  • Stan

    Stan Beth Campbell Wow, she took the words right out of my mouth(Stan.) 22 years married in June for us and no children. We haven’t gone to church on Mothers Day in years except for the VERY odd exception. It seems on Fathers Day it’s about Godly men and how younger men in the church or younger co-workers can look and see you as a Godly roll model. Why not focus on the Godly role of a women wheather mother or not, what the Bible says about how she should act, speak and be instead of always focusing on children, which hurts the barren one. Though children are a treasure from the Lord the Bible says, not a

  • Kimberly

    Thank you for sharing. I happened upon this just as my husband (a pastor) was leaving for church this morning. I made him read it. He read the prayer as his offering to mothers instead of having them stand (like everyone always does and like he was planning to do). We had so many people tell us after church how much they appreciated it. Stories were told. Some admitted to skipping church on Mother’s Day for years. Etc. so thank you!

  • Megalass

    Honor is not a zero-sum game and this attitude strikes me as petty. This is the “Everyone gets a trophy” mentality at work. Meanwhile, consider this: Maybe the standing mom you are envying has a kid in rehab, another flunking in school and 2 more who are good but just couldn’t be bothered to call or get a card. Maybe she spent the morning crying with worry and hurt. Maybe that 30 seconds of recognition is the only pat on the back she’s had in months. And you want to to extend that to every being with a uterus or a dress and heels in their closet ?At that point, why bother at all? “If everyone is special, nobody is.” ( The Incredibles)

  • Wendy

    Honestly I’m a woman who has no kids. Can’t have kids. Yet when the pastor did this at my church today it didn’t bug me. Sometimes women are to sensitive & conceited & make things about them personally. The pastor isn’t alienating you. Look away from yourself & to your mother or motherly figure in your life. It doesn’t have to be blood related. A teacher or mentor can be a mother. God Bless!

  • John

    Thank you so much for this beautiful peice. Not enough is ever said about the women who would love to be mothers but for whatever reason they can’t make their dreams come true.

    As a husband who has watch his wife go through 5 miscarriages and see the pain in her eyes every Mother’s Day. 3 of these miscarriages happen have had the worst timing: 1st was a month before our wedding, 2nd was on our 1st anniversary and the 3rd was a month after my father passed away (my wife was very close to my dad). The thing is I know the pain I go through so I couldn’t even image the hurt in her heart. And I know that people don’t try to be hurtful but it seems that it really gets thrown in her face that we have no children. Mostly commonly asked question is ‘so how many kids you guys have now?’ And seeing the hurt in my wife’s eyes I have to softly answer ‘oh none yet, but hopefully soon.’ My wife has even lost friends over this. Some if her friends would talk non-stop but their kids to her for hours when she would go out in a ‘girls nights’ with them. Society just doesn’t seem to care about these women that truly want nothing more than to have a child in their life but can’t.

    My Mother’s Day wishes go to these beautiful women that aren’t yet mothers or can’t be mothers. Because I know in my soul that just like my wife that you are amazing women!!!!!

  • Rev Ann Larson

    As a pastor (never-married and never wanted kids) I’m one who will never just “honor” mothers on mothers day without acknowledging those who can’t join the party. And it’s always rude to tell someone they’re not included in a party–which is what Mother’s Day does. There is so much personal and cultural baggage, still, for women relating to mothers and mothering that it is a source of pain for many who don’t fit the Hallmark card images.. I’m one whose relationship with my mother was distant and toxic almost from day (or at least from month 6 when, she tells me, I had already rejected her) –no actual abuse or physical neglect that could be reported, just day to day toxicity. Her death last year came as a relief: the hardest thing since has been biting my tongue when some well-meaning soul tells me I must miss her so much. No, I’ve grown up missing her — as a teenager, I sobbed the first time I heard the song “Motherless Child” and she was sitting in the next room. Years of therapy have helped me realize the extant to which it was not about me, that she was a raging narcissist and incapable of truly nurturing anyone. Yes, I’ve long since forgiven her but I’m relieved not to face the annual chore of finding a card that expresses anything that I can actually say without pretense.

    • Tara

      I just want to acknowledge your wonderful thoughtful post. I am glad you went into the ministry. 🙂

  • BJ

    Your article is entitled “An open letter to Pastors”..That would include me seeings I have been a pastor for 40 years. I don’t deny or take lightly the brokenness that you and many women bear.
    But simply put:
    Removing the tradition of having Mothers stand to be recognized and honored on Mothers day, is not going to remove the brokenness you feel.
    To remove or heal the hurt that is in your life is only going to be removed with submission to God, and he can heal it.
    If the hurt in your life makes you uncomfortable when Mothers are ask to stand, no matter what is done in church to recognize and honor Mothers would do the same thing.
    By your logic then a pastor cannot ever speak of motherhood because it would make you uncomfortable.
    Understand this, as a pastor my heart and prayers goes out to anyone who has brokenness in their lives.
    If the hurt is there on mothers day wouldn’t it stand to reason that the same hurt is there the rest of the year.
    You and others say you don’t go to church on mothers day because it makes you uncomfortable. UH .. What are you going to church for…….
    We are uncomfortable about a lot of things…..
    But God convicts us of sin, and heals our hurts, if we have our heart in the right place….

    • Elizabeth

      Sorry, this “tradition” of having mothers stand in church to be recognized by the church on Mother’s Day has been a “tradition” for possibly a few decades. In the grand scheme of time, understanding that the roots and origins of many Christian worship practices lie in ancient Jewish practices, this “tradition” has been going on about as long as I’ve been at work this morning. It is not even as old as the hymn “Silent Night.” Let’s stop pretending like it’s integral to corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. (Thank God Easter never falls as late as Mother’s Day – what on earth would we do if we had to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus instead of moms?)

      No one is saying that a pastor can’t ever talk about mothers. I mean, we talk about the Virgin Mary, do we not? And I don’t know too many people who don’t come to church on Christmas because hearing about the birth of Christ is too difficult for someone struggling with infertility. The point is: who are you actually honoring, and why, and at whose expense? These women probably go to church to honor JESUS, not mothers. I’m guessing.

      So then, let’s have a look-see at what Jesus says about mothers who demand honor. Matthew 20:20-28, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

      If *anyone*, for any reason, is demanding to be honored, most especially in ways that are known to cause unnecessary pain and suffering for others, that person is not being Christlike. Christ could have thrown Himself down from the cross, ripped off the crown of thorns, and demanded that the angels save and exalt Him. After all, God deserves “honor”, doesn’t he? What kind of selfish person would tell God that He should give up the honor that is due Him, just because others are suffering? Oh right, that’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross. Humbled Himself, and eschewed every drop of honor, because we lousy, rotten sinners were enslaved to death and evil.

      Mothers, I get that you are excited about Mother’s Day. I get that it’s perhaps one day of the year when you actually feel honored and appreciated by your kids and husband. But then let *your kids and husband* honor and appreciate you, rather than extracting it from the church, at the expense of great pain to many of your fellow Christians. Even on “your day”, it’s still not about you. Especially not in church. It is always and only about Jesus.

      The women who struggle with emotional pain on Mother’s Day are not demanding their own particular honor, or even that others *not* be honored. They are simply asking that their church – ya know, the Body of Christ – try to not cause any additional pain than they are already feeling on this day. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request, do you?

  • Dianna Naylor

    I really loved your piece. The only thing I would add was for those who chose not to have children, but work for the betterment of their communities, we celebrate you.

  • Lynn

    This day has always been so tough for me because I do not have any children here on earth. This morning though I believe God gave me this wonderful thought. We as women are by nature very nurturing and at sometime in our lives we’ve “mothered” a child, a teenager or a young adult. The Lord helped me to see that mentorship of children or young people/young adults is as much a part of mothering or nurturing as having your own children. Today I did not stand when little girls gave red roses to all the standing mothers. I remained seated and honored them. Then something amazing happened, a sweet little girl came by and gave me a rose anyway even though I was sitting. She just simply said this is for you. Thank you Jesus.

  • Robin

    Thank you Amy. I am a woman who had uterine cancer during her child bearing years, and has felt the pain you wrote about, the church I attend now is not one that asks for mothers to stand, and today, the pastor spoke of women who have been a surrogate mother to a child or children, which helped me immensely. In the past, I have gone away for Mother’s Day, less painful for me, I don’t like the feeling of running away, but I have a feeling in the future, I will go away. My heart goes out to all women, whatever they are facing this day, I hope everyone of the have a lovely day today.

  • Kristine

    Thank you for writing this sensitive piece. I understand and agree with your suggestion to make Mother’s Day more inclusive. I believe you also made it more meaningful, by offering concrete ways that a congregation recognizes the important role and challenges of mothers at all stages.

    I do not boycott Mother’s Day. I prepared several surprises for my mother to lift her spirits and let her know how much she is loved and appreciated. I also prepared a surprise for my sister, who is a wonderful mother to two beautiful children. I acknowledged mothers on Facebook, because almost every woman over 25 in my family and of my acquaintance is also a mother, and I wanted to salute them.

    Today I honored the mothers of my congregation by teaching Sunday School, by helping in a small way with the task of bringing their children closer to God. I honor mothers with my work teaching in an elementary school, helping to educate their children, helping to lift them up and encourage them in all things. I honor mothers when I babysit for friends and family, or bring their families food, or donate time and money to our local women’s shelter. None of these things causes me pain, only joy because they are acts of love.

    Sitting in church while every other woman stands is not an act of love. It does nothing to help mothers in any real or concrete way. But it DOES cause me pain. It does not cause pain because I’m jealous of mothers. It does not cause pain because I’m a selfish horrible person. It causes pain because it is a deep sense of loss and mourning, one that is not recognized or shared by our communities. We have no way of talking about it without bringing down rounding condemnation from so many people for our failures as human beings, women, and wives.

    Not being a mother hurts, very privately and deeply every day, not just on Mother’s Day. I believe we can honor our mothers, and the mothers in our lives, without rubbing salt in the wounds of women who care and support others in their communities, and I think this article set a beautiful example of one way to do so.

  • Fr. Hallock Martin

    At Holy Spirit today we honored mothers and all women with a pink carnation and a small gift. We celebrated the gift of the love of mothers and the grace that all women bring to the community. We had pink carnations, because we chose the opportunity of Mother’s Day to continue raising awareness of breast cancer and we had a “Worship in Pink” Sunday. The only women I asked to stand were our survivors. We rejoiced with them and God’s healing touch in their lives! Our celebration of Mother’s Day included all women and exclude none!

  • Jenny

    I agree with your “wide continuum of mothering”….If you are a woman who has loved and cared for anothers child, then STAND UP. If your babies are Angels in Heaven, then STAND UP. If you have mentored a child, then STAND UP. If you are a Foster Mom, then STAND UP. If a child has looked to you for guidance & love in their life, then STAND UP!

    But because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone who has never done any of those things, lets not STAND UP in honor of those who have…..

  • Suelynn

    Well, we had Mother’s Day at church today. Nobody was asked to stand, but our pastor took 5 mins. to read various scriptures that supported the honoring of mothers (and fathers) as well as the importance of mothers in teaching their children and bringing them the gospel. I can’t speak for others, but as a mother I felt gifted and honored by the Word of God. No one was singled out as being a mother and no one was left out as not being a mother or anything in between. It was very nice.

  • michellr

    I have heard it all. Honor mothers people and stop thinking of yourselves! Its okay if you are not in the limelight!

  • Anon

    I was at a church once where they had all men stand and applaud for all mothers, be they biological or spiritual. The women all sat, like a standing ovation. That seemed the most humane, kind way to do it. No one is saying do not honor mothers, of course they deserve it. But, as a CHURCH we should be concerned with honoring people WITHOUT hurting others. Like many have pointed out, it is difficult to understand someone else’s pain if you’ve never experienced yourself. So, honor moms. Talk about them, clap for them, but be aware that you can possibly be ripping open wounds for some women and it’s not needed. There are ways to honor moms that don’t make people feel self-conscious or worthless. All people are saying is BE AWARE. That’s not selfish, that’s not rude, that’s not taking anything away from your personal celebration of mother’s day. It makes me sad to see so many people arguing about this article and basically telling women to “get over it and stop thinking about yourself.” I don’t think I hear those words coming out of Jesus’ mouth.

  • Elizabeth

    It’s not even the Church’s place to be honoring mothers or fathers publicly. That’s for their children to do and not for just one day either. So the Church shouldn’t even be involved and that would avoid the entire situation.

    • Jen I

      Disagree. The Bible speaks very specifically about the importance of parental roles. The church most definitely SHOULD be honoring those mothers and fathers who are following after God’s heart and leading their family my His Word.

  • Tara

    I think the underlying *thing* here is the idea that women are for making and raising babies. If you start with that, then it is inevitable that every woman will feel badly about herself at some point on the mothering spectrum. If the primary identity of a woman is supposed to be ‘Mother’, then any deviation from that ideal ‘Mother’, means she has somehow failed at being a woman. That’s not fair to us.

    Women need to be recognized as whole beings- with passions and failings, ambitions and desires, a capacity for selflessness or selfishness when necessary. Mothering is not the entirety of a woman. You are no less of a woman if you are not a mother. It might be by choice or by circumstance, but it does not make you less of a woman. Conversely – you are not a better woman when you have children. The idea that a woman is faulty because she is not a mother, or an imperfect mother, is the source of a whole lot of pain and angst. No woman should have to feel that. You do your best with what you have. If we can look at women as whole beings as opposed to ‘mother or not a mother’, it would make Mother’s Day a lot less painful for those who currently feel the sting of ‘NOT’, don’t you think?

    Mothering (biological or otherwise) is often a thankless job. So it is nice to have a day to stop and remember to say thanks to all of the women who are giving it a go. I miss my Mom terribly. It’s a tough day to alternate between missing her and having my heart burst when my children draw me a picture or offer me Lucky Charms as a special breakfast. So on this day to honor mothers, I’m not sure that asking them to stand up in church is the best way to do it. But I think we can all agree that this form of recognition was/is well-meaning and was never designed to slight. As a mother, I can tell you that I will not feel any less appreciated if the Pastor did not ask me to stand up to be recognized. 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day to us all- no matter where you are on that spectrum of mothering. Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂

  • Judy Redman

    Amy – this is wonderful and I’m sharing it with my clergy friends because we all struggle to do something that will honour those women for whom Mothers’ Day is a joyous celebration whilst still making church a safe place for women to go for whom it is painful. I have worked as a chaplain for nearly 18 years and a parish minister for another three and I have names for all of the sad things you’ve mentioned and so many of them just avoid church on Mothers’ Day because the way it is dealt with makes them feel so bad. The other thing (other than getting all mothers to stand) that I’ve seen done is to say that while not every woman is a mother, everyone has one and to ask them all to thank God for their mothers. I have worked with people who need to thank God that they are where they are *despite* their mothers. Like the one who had been raped repeatedly by every male member of her family and some of her father’s workmates and whose mother arranged for her to have repeated abortions. Her faith kept her sane, but she pictured Jesus as Friend and Wise Counsellor and cringed whenever she was told that God was her father.

  • Jan

    Thank you for so beautifully expressing this. I’m not a mom and I’ve been in that place of being happy to honor the mothers and of feeling awkward because I’m the only adult woman sitting down. I’m closing in on my 44th birthday and have grieved the loss of the children I will probably never give birth to. As a single woman I’ve felt excluded from the family oriented activities. Living in a foreign country, I’ve spent many holidays alone because I don’t have family nearby. I’ve also seen that mothering and the role of mothers can be interpreted according to culture. And I’ve lived the reality of feeling that because my choices led me on a different path than many women, maybe I somehow missed God’s will for my life because I’m not a wife and a mother. Yet I’ve actively sought God’s will most of my adult life, so surely if it was his will, I’d be one. I’ve seen abused and mistreated children and wondered about the sovereignty of God because I know that while I wouldn’t have been a perfect mom, I wouldn’t have abused them either. So I wonder why God gives some women children and not others. And I’ve also been criticized for expressing some of these thoughts and told that I don’t really understand what it’s like to be a mother. Through it all I’ve learned a couple things. One is that there are better ways to honor moms than a public recognition once a year. There are lonely grandmas whose kids and grandkids live far away and would love to have surrogate grandkids come to visit. There are single moms who need a practical helping hand and maybe someone to mentor their boys. There are moms with little ones who could use a meal now and again or free babysitting for an occasional outing with the girls or maybe some uninterrupted time to pray. There are women like me who love the little people hugs that we receive from our nieces, nephews and children and don’t want to be excluded from your park dates and meals just because we don’t have little ones of the same age to bring along. I’ve also learned that I can’t expect people to come to me because they figured it out. If I want to be included, then I have to invite and be a friend first. Now I spend lots of time in gatherings of all ages of women, some with little ones in tow and some without. We’ve cried with the one who lost her babies. We’ve tried to figure out potty training solutions for the mom who misses the advice and help of her own mother. We’ve laughed together about my various inappropriate marriage proposals that could have provided me with children. And somehow the whole Mother’s Day hurt has diminished with our shared laughter and tears. Isn’t that kind of what Jesus had in mind?

  • Shannon

    I found this blog because our pastor read #2 in church today. I sobbed (hard)….I do dread Mother’s Day and I grieve over my childlessness. There was also a part of me that raged over the pastor feeling the need to read this…it can feel like one is being selfish, even as one is relieved that someone acknowledged the pain. Some days it just hurts hurts hurts. And I agree this is a pretty complex issue.

    I try to have breakfast with a childless friend on Mother’s Day morning. It helps me face church…and I think it’s good to be there, even if there are tears, even if I’m embarrassed later on. And I do very much believe being single can lead to similar feelings….when one is grieving not having someone to love.

    I do try to aim towards contentment. I think God has taught me good things through this. I think heaven will make all the pain on earth worth it.

    And sometimes the painful church stories become funny after awhile. I cried all the way home from church the time the pastor decided to switch and have all the non-mothers stand…now (years later) I see it as kind of funny…that poor man was in a hard position…trying to do something thoughtful and having it go so terribly wrong (not that I said anything about it.)

    It’s the perseverance in Christ that counts….someday this will be ok.

    • Darlene Schacht

      It’s really hard to know the right thing to do. I had five miscarriages, and I remember a woman coming over once with flowers. She said, I wasn’t sure if I should come because I really didn’t know the right thing to say. Just being there and showing she cared spoke more to me than her words ever could. We’re all a work in progress, which is why I pray that people keep their eyes focused on the ONE Who is perfect in every way.

  • DB

    Having struggled with infertility for six years, I made the decision this year to not attend church on Mother’s Day because it is too painful. I spent it with my Mom & Grandmas instead to honor them…as Mother’s Day was originally intended. There has been much talk about those that are childless being selfish, but isn’t it selfish to want a Sunday service to bring honor to ourselves? I thought the point of church service is to bring honor and glory to Christ…always…and not ourselves.

  • Ellen

    The cruel comments on this blog are while I have given up the church altogether. I find more compassion, love and community elsewhere than I ever did at a church.

  • L

    While I understand both sides, I truly don’t believe that we (as a church body) are trying to cause hurt and separation.

    I went through 4 years of unsuccessful infertility treatments. I ended up losing my first pregnancy and was devastated. Shortly after that, I went to a women’s conference where mothers were recognized and prayed over and for. As I stood beside countless moms, tears streamed down my face and I silently cried out to God, “What about us? What about those that would give anything to have children and can’t?” I remember the pain from that day as if it were yesterday.

    However, God spoke to me through that precious lady praying. She asked the Lord to touch those that aren’t moms or can’t have children of their own. She asked Him to surround them with His love and give them a mother’s heart. She asked that He help those of us who couldn’t have their own children, become moms to all of the children in our lives. Through her prayer, God answered mine. As women, we are called to be mothers. It doesn’t matter if it’s naturally or not. We have a gift that can only be given by a mother’s heart. We can love and nurture those children in our lives and sometimes, we are the only ones who can touch that tiny (or not so tiny) life.

    To those who want children and can’t have them–I love you. I honor you on this Mother’s Day. I know the pain. It’s not the “parts” that make a mom–it’s the heart–your heart.

    Many blessings to all…

    PS: Yes, God still performs miracles. I have 4 beautiful living children and 2 baby girls waiting for me to finally get home.

  • Catharine

    This post resonated with me a whole lot. I’m 50. Never married. No children. Mother’s Day used to be about celebrating my own mother, and doing something for her–at the least giving her a card, and sometimes calling her if I couldn’t be with her. This is my 10th year without her. I think I felt the most pain of any year this year. Not sure why. I walked into church to see a projection on the wall honoring mothers. No, I don’t have a problem with honoring mothers. But as soon as I saw that, I wanted to turn and walk back out the door. I was ready to burst into tears.

    Thankfully, after a stop in the restroom and crying out to God, I was able to go into church, and enjoy it for the most part. I am thankful, though that the pastor did not ask all mothers to stand. While the ones who spoke “tried” to include all women, it felt very lame. How do you suddenly tack on the end about appreciating all women, when you’ve just gotten done exalting a mother for all the things she does? It just doesn’t cut it!

    Last year the pastor talked about women in general, and what they give to society/family/church life. That felt very caring. While today didn’t feel uncaring, it didn’t feel as honoring of all women, but more of just married women. If I had my own mom yet, I wouldn’t have felt so desolate. So, it’s a time of grieving my losses, and allowing God to be my Comforter.

  • Karen W

    I have to say, I am torn regarding this post. I never saw it as a problem to honor moms on Mother’s Day. It is not meaning to make others feel bad, but to honor mothers. I have never been in a church that asks moms to stand. In our church moms get a carnation. There is a vase of carnations up front and the pastor has children (young and old) come to get one for their mom. I mean, even with this tradition women who are not moms could feel bad if they focus on themselves.

  • Patti Lipsig

    First of all — great article!
    Some of the reader comments are appalling. The ones who basically say to the childless women “suck it up, stop feeling sorry for yourself and be happy for the mothers.” Really??? It’s easy to say be happy for other people’s gifts when YOU are the one holding the gifts. I have 2 wonderful children, and their existence is all the honor I need. If giving up a few minutes of having my ego stroked in public will save another woman from feeling pain and isolation, I’m all for it.

  • Lou Ann

    I am single, 40-something, never-married, and childless. I have been a believer since I was a small child. I do not make a habit of going to church on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, even, because, as many commenters have pointed out here, my negative emotions about going to church on Mother’s Day are quite selfish. I have many friends at my church who are wonderful mothers and whose children I have watched grow up and are fantastic kids, the result of wonderful parenting. I know from past experience that my emotions get the best of me at church on Mother’s Day, and when that happens, the attention is taken away from these wonderful moms and drawn to me, which is the last thing I want. It is not fair to them for me to be at church and uncontrolled in my emotion. I love that my church honors the wonderful mothers in our congregation, and I want them to continue to do so. Easier for them and for me to stay home. Thank you for your thoughtful article!

  • Bob

    I agree wholeheartedly with the point of the article. I think my response, though, would be something along the lines of,

    “Dear parishioner,

    Most pastors hate Hallmark holidays, especially when they completely overwhelm the liturgical calendar. However, we face enormous pressure to celebrate days like this, and to do so exactly as has always been done in the past. We also face enormous pressure to attend one (or more) mother-daughter luncheons, etc., and hear about it for months or years afterwards if we choose not to attend, even when the events are scheduled on our days off or during our (already limited) family time. I’m very sorry you had that horrible experience, and I hope you will believe me when I tell you that most of us are no happier about it than you are. Please, though, understand that we are fighting a lot of battles behind the scenes as we do our best to make such observances as rare as possible, and to make the ones that do occur as sensitive as possible. We are also paying a stiff price for doing so, which you likely never see, just as you also do not see the enormous thought and effort that we (or at least most of us) put into everything that happens in worship. It doesn’t make it all better overnight, but please understand that most of us are doing the best we can to prevent horribly insensitive things from being done in worship.

    Yours in Christ,
    Pastor Bob”

  • Amanda Farris

    Thank you for writing this. I am 45 with children. 50 weeks a year it is okay not to be a mother. The two weeks before Mother’s Day is hard because it is a constant reminder that I have the parts but no t the goods.

    Thankfully my church puts an emphasis on all moms and does not alienate me. This morning the sermon was “Honoring Your Parents” so it wasn’t so hard to sit through.

    Thank you for giving me the words.

  • Suzanne

    Thank you for this. I don’t go to church on mothers day, and it’s a day when I really need to worship, and have the support of other women. I was never blessed with children, and my own mom passed away almost 9 years ago. 2 holes in my heart that will never be filled. It’s been a hard day. Facebook is filled with pictures of celebrations with moms and their children. Love going back and forth. I will never have either. I will never be a Grandmother. If I sound like I’m having a pity party, then so be it. I will be fine tomorrow, as tomorrow is another day. Not mothers day. I have so many people tell me that I’m a mother to many, and many may feel that I am. I am still without the children and mother of my blood. It is a very large difference that they don’t understand, yet want to reach out in love and compassion. I appreciate their words, just….it doesn’t fill the holes.

    • Suzanne

      The few times I’ve gone to church since my mom passed on mothers day, I’ve either walked out, sat and cried, or just felt numb. Well meaning pastors ask the moms to stand up. I stay seated, look around at the mothers with big smiles on their faces, and my heart breaks.

  • BC

    There are many things wrong in the world today, and to be honest, this is nowhere near the worst of them – but it is still a problem. I am not a mom either – I am a dad and my wife has had several miscarriages so although I will never know what it is like to carry and/or lose a child; I know what it is like to call your in-laws up, when you live 1,000 miles away and have to tell them that the grandkid everyone was excited to meet, wasn’t coming. I know what it’s like to call my brothers and break the news. I know what its like to explain to my 3 year old why the little brother or sister we keep talking about isn’t coming anymore. All that being said – this mentality is why teachers in some schools aren’t allowed to use red pens to grade papers. It’s why kids are awarded for mediocrity every day in school. It’s why common core says it is okay if a child says 3×4=11. It’s why some schools have banned the term “best friend” in school – because there might be a student that doesn’t have a best friend.

    My dad was given divorce papers on my 13th birthday. I spent my birthday hiding until the police gave him the summons and made him leave the house. It still hurts – but that doesn’t mean that no one should celebrate their birthday. My parents divorced – but that doesn’t mean when the elderly couple that sit near the front of church every week celebrates their 60th wedding anniversary – that we shouldn’t recognize them for their success – even though it might remind me of parents failure. You know why? Not everything is always about me.

    I knew a pastor who fathered a child with a teenage girl who went to his church. Does that mean no one should celebrate national pastors days? Absolutely not.

    This is a broken world. People hurt, people live in all kinds of pain and sometimes that pain is so bad they actually choose to kill themselves – pain is real – but one person’s pain isn’t reason to exclude everyone else’s joy.

    Recognizing moms for moms – doesn’t deride anyone who isn’t a mom, it is what is – recognizing moms. On fathers day – fathers are recognized, on grandparents day – grandparents are recognized. If we chose not to do something because someone might feel bad – we would all be as active as a corpse in a coffin. People hurt, its a fact of life – but your hurting doesn’t give you the right to dictate every aspect of everyone else. If someone loses a lot of weight – do you not praise them for their hard work because there are still fat people in the pews?

    Quit looking at yourself and think about someone else for a change. Unless the pastor asks the moms to stand up and then tells the congregation that all women still seated are lesser persons or not as important, etc – he’s done nothing wrong – celebrate their accomplishment and if you are mourning your yet unrealized dreams – ask for prayer, there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Hannah Sommers

    I love this post! I read some of the comments but not nearly all of them! But I have always wondered about those women who baby sit, faster or step mother other women’s kids… On Mother’s Day, the woman who gave birth to these kids can stand while the one who mothers them, can not! Seems like a cruel punishment to me. And I agree on the standing thing… AWKWARD 🙂

  • J

    Amy, I believe you forgot one important group in your acknowledgements, those women who choose not to have children. Not because of medical reasons, not because they were abused, and not because they have tried and failed, but simply because they feel parenthood is not for them.

    I have some close married friends who have never had the desire to have a family. To my friend it’s a personal decision, but she also find Mothers Day somewhat harrowing. Not because of grief, but because of judgement.

    Because of the times that people in the Church seem to find it okay to gather around on Mothers Day and pray for her to become a mother. The seemingly well mean questions and comments: so when are you going to start a family? or Don’t worry if its Gods will it will happen.

    My friend doesn’t avoid Church on Mothers Day, but just the other day told me that (one of) the good things about entering her 40s was that she was hoping all that will start to die down.

    You, rightly, talk about sensitivity to those women who grieve on Mothers Day, but don’t forgot those who suffer the slings and barbs of people who think they know better, and really don’t.

  • Darlene Schacht

    I asked her only if I could remove the abortion part as I thought it would likely turn into an abortion debate instead of speaking to the issue at hand. But we have addressed it in the comments.

  • Laura

    Wow! I have been sitting here in tears seeing some of the comments posted on this site. While I have been blessed with one daughter, who is handicapped and can’t have children, I have also lost two other children, and I struggled with infertility for 5 years, while watching both of my sisters’ who are younger, have children. 1 sister was married and raised children in a non-Christian home, while the other was not married and gave her child up for adoption. We were raised in a non-Christian home where violence and abuse (on the part of my mother) was the norm, yet we were expected to celebrate Mother’s Day. I will never know the joy and privilege of being a grandparent, while all of my friends have tons of grandchildren — this day is difficult, and yet a joy, as I watch our daughter serve her Savior.. I agree with Amy, that there HAS to be a better way of celebrating mothers and grandmothers without making it difficult for those who cannot or choose not to be parents. Please don’t tell me that I am attending the wrong church if I feel that it is sometimes hurtful for me to take part in services on Mother’s Day — my husband, daughter and I have tried several different churches — and it is because of so-called Christians who taunted us for either not having children, or having a handicapped child, or because we were or must be terrible parents because we chose to stick up for our daughter. I am not telling you to stop honoring your mothers; in fact, I honor mine for the fact that she did keep all of us and raised us, she just did not have good parenting skills. I am just asking you all to show a little compassion to the other women around you, because, unless you have walked in their shoes, how do you know that they haven’t just suffered a miscarriage, or had an abortion, have not been “blessed” with a child yet, or have chosen to remain childless for reasons you cannot possibly understand? I choose to pray for those women, and hope that you all would as well.

  • Beth

    I don’t care for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I was infertile for many years and even though I am a mother and grandmother now, Mother’s Day reminds me of how raw it was to live as a “Wedded Unmother.” I am reminded on Mother and Father’s Day of how it hurt my parents too.

  • Anita

    I want mothers honored at church, even though I never had biological children. However, some years are tougher than others. I’ve learned to allow myself to plan other activities those years…a beach trip or something. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my church, it just simply is surviving and healing. It probably is ok to give hurting women a “day off” without guilt.

  • Mavrosh

    What a wonderful post. I am not even christian but this is a topic, that should be brought up for everyone out there. I know of many women who are looked at just because they simply decided against children… which is totally okay! They still are wonderful and complete women but many times they have to suffer from judgement of the others.

    On another hand – I never wanted children myself. Then I got cancer in my stomach and doctors told me that I will never have children and I was very happy with it. What can I say, my son turns eight next month and I love him with all my heart. Sometimes life is like this.

    (I apologize for language mistakes, I am no native speaker.)

  • John Brandow

    Sometimes you need to read more of these to make us more sensitive to other people’s feelings
    Stunning ! Sometimes Pastors like to do the “right” thing everyone expects of them and I am just wondering how many Pastors will really take note of these sensitive little things in life !

  • Emma

    I find Mothers day particularly hard and try to avoid it where possible. I have never had children, which was and is a choice I am still happy with. However, I have never had a good relationship with my Mother. She rejected me from a young age and so I find it really difficult when everyone is talking about how wonderful their Mothers are and what great relationships they have with them. As the writer says, it’s not normally a problem but it does indeed rub salt into an almost healed wound

  • Kris

    Thank you so much for this article! It feels good to just be understood. I haven’t been back to church since Mother’s Day 2006 when all mothers were asked to stand during the service and I was in the process of scheduling my hysterectomy. I battled endometriosis, fibroid tumors, adhesions and numerous cysts for 20 years and was never able to become pregnant. After 2 failed marriages and at 39 years old with no man in my life, my doctor finally gave up on me. I am now going on 47 years old and I know being childless is something I will never get over and I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to go back to church. Mothers are blessed and as friends become grandparents and I am nothing, cursed in fact, I often feel I should hide away on Mother’s Day and the days that surround it to avoid hurtful comments and insensitive questions about my childlessness.

  • Catie

    At the beginning of last year my husband and I experienced a miscarriage. Our church family was amazing at rallying around us and pouring love into our open wound. But, when Mother’s Day rolled around we received lots of comments like “We’re believing your Mother’s Day is coming soon,” or “You have the heart of a Mother just not the sweet baby yet, but it’s coming,” all of which were like salt in the wound. (Mind you I took no offense as I knew people were trying to be supportive in the only ways they knew how.) Cut to Mother’s Day 2014 and I’m 20 weeks pregnant. I thought last year was awkward, but man this year took that awkward level up 10 notches! Our fellow church members seemed to be just as confused as I was. Some did the side hug and said “Happy Mother-to-be day?” And, yes, that ? was definitely implied in their tones. Others made big deals over “Life begins at conception so you are a Mother!” If that’s the case, then why did no one “honor” me last year after the miscarriage? I’ll be honest and admit that I was conveniently unavailable during the “Will all of the Mothers please stand up” portion of the service. I 100% agree that Moms are important and worthy of honor, but I think how we’ve decided to define what a Mom is sucks, plain and simple. You very eloquently expressed so much of what I’ve been feeling over the course of the last year and I think it’s high time we, as a church, begin to broaden the way we love and honor our Matriarchs.

  • Mozz

    Got news for you lady, if you felt like an empty shell, you should examine where that really comes from because it didn’t come from the pastor. All he did was give an atta-girl to moms on mother’s day. How you feel is on you, not someone else.

  • Carlotta

    And why would reading the comments here change the truth of what I said?
    You wrote a rhetorical article about how you and an anonymous women you know feel left out because Mother’s day honors Mothers. You then went to instruct your Pastor, and are instructing other Pastors, to change a celebration that has nothing to do with you so that it will. Please crash my child’s birthday party and insist on blowing out the candles too. Hey then you can tell everyone else how a birthday party should be done as well.

    As someone who was infertile, I never once wanted to tone down the recognition Mother’s got so I didn’t feel left out. I wasn’t a Mother and joined the others in celebrating them. You know, I never had even a thought of instructing my Pastor or anyone elses.

    I have had enough of feminists over running the Church. Off to demand a gold medal from the Olympics.

  • Stephanie

    As a mother of one living child and four angels, I still do not think I agree with this. Mother’s Day can be a reminder of what I wished I had, even this year, when I have little boy and so much to be thankful for, the Devil tries to pull my thoughts down and remind me of the two little ones we lost before our son, the baby we lost last November and another one this March. I know what is is like to have the fervent desire to be a mother, and to not be there yet; I know what it is like to be jealous of those who have what my husband and I so desperately want; all this just reminds me to (try) to take my thoughts off what I do not have, to pray for selflessness, to work to be joyful for those who are pregnant or have children, even when I wasn’t there yet. I have control over my thoughts, albeit sometimes it’s harder than others, but a battle still worth fighting. I think that not honoring mom’s on Mother’s Day is a small step down the path of “don’t say anything lest you offend someone.” Mothers do deserve to be recognized, and those who are not physicall mother’s, for whatever reason, can still be joyful for those around them.

  • Janine

    Thank you Stephanie for your words really said a lot that I was going to say so I will go into all of it. I was so excited to find this blog because it said everything I feeling for years and sometimes I feel alone for feeling The last time I went to Mother’s Day our church decided to get out raffle tickets to all the women at the door included everyone in which is nice but when the time came for the raffle to be called it was my ticket figures I never win anything. I pretended it wasn’t mine there was no way I could go up on that stage with a three or four other women and take a gift meant for a mother when I didn’t have children myself one. it would seem selfish. iand then later I would be answering everyone’s questions. lt would just grind it in that I didn’t have children. I sat there as they called my number over and over. They finally gave up and called another number. If they had just made it about honoring women it would have been different.

    For those of u who don’t understand. Let me help make it clearer. Yes. We want or wanted children desperately. We are not jealous of those who stand. We do not feel that they shouldn’t be recognized. Yes maybe sitting there in pain is selfish and wallowing a bit but try not to judge until u have walked in our shoes.

    Asking about children is an opening line in many church conversations. We get asked about it all day everyday and have to say we don’t have any. Then the awkward silence or the too personal questions.

    And get over it. Wow u really don’t understand. But that’s ok. I get it. I was happy to turn 45. I felt like good aLl hope is gone now I can grieve and get over it and put my pain aside. But now people start to ask how my grand kids r doing …. I kid u not and if you thought the kid question was painful to me. Now people r pointing out the other vast holes in my life. I’m happy every wedding graduation baby shower I go to. But it is always tempered with that will never be me. I will never help my daughter plan a graduation party. I will never see her married. I will never hold much less help raise a grandchild. So much for the pain ending.

    And if u think we are wallowing in selfish ness think of it this way: if you met someone with one arm would u immediately ask him about it every time u saw him. Would almost everyone introduced to him do it. No. We try not to bring up his pain every time.

    Do u and everyone else ask an overweight person how their diet is going. Do strangers bring it up as a conversation filler at parties or business meetings. No. It would be considered rude and unfeeling.

    Because it would be like poking a finger into that healing wound and removing the scab again and again day after day for years and years.

    But that is exactly how we nonmothers feel. At least those of us who despair early wanted children but could never have our own.
    We as nonmothers know you aren’t trying to be mean. We know that u can’t avoid poking us when we don’t have an obvious wound. But it hurts all the same.

    We aren’t asking u not to honor mothers. We honor our mothers and our sisters and friends who r. We r just saying that sitting there makes us feel left out in an extremely painful way. And sometimes people will ask us why we didn’t stand. Well meaning perhaps. But hurtful. Not because they er being mean or unkind but because they are unknowingly poking the wound. And we have to smile and polite answer AGAIN.

    Janine. Infertility. Failed foster adoption. (After having children for 26 months)

  • PAW

    As a pastor my practice has simply been to acknowledge that Mother’s Day can be a painful day for some of us and include prayers of compassion for those who are hurting as a part of the service. To try to articulate all of the reasons for that is too much and removes the celebration for others. My own mother hated Mother’s Day because two of my brothers committed suicide and she felt like a failure! She shouldn’t have felt that way , but she did and avoided Mother’s Day services. The disappointment with not having children is only one painful category of the pain that might be felt. I think a good pastor will find a way to celebrate mothers and minister to those who are hurting in the same service. It takes awareness and sensitivity. Awareness sometimes comes through personal pain and other times through articles and conversations such as this. Thank you for lifting up this concern.

  • Saly

    As someone who miscarried on Mother’s day, then had fertility issues for a few years, writings like this make me want to scream “Grow Up and Get A Life.” Creating life is the most amazing thing a woman being can do and it deserves our respect. Do you also cry at the NFL draft if you can’t play football or at the Oscars if you’re not an actress? Acknowledging someone else’s achievement does not make you any less the special little snowflake, but disparaging that acknowledgement does make you look petty and insecure.

    • Pam

      Actually you are the petty one. You are the one demeaning others. So because nobody has ever given me a second look no matter how much I’d love to be married and have a child I haven’t done something amazing? I don’t deserve respect? The church is not meant to just be a club for those who have the ‘perfect’ life. It is not meant to be a place of peope who demean those who aren’t as fortunate as themselves. Do you even realise how cruel you are being?

  • Bird

    First off, “Mother’s Day” is NOT a Hallmark invention.The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she had started and to set aside a day to honor mothers, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

    Shall we not stand in prayer because poor Mrs. Jones and Mr. Brown are frail and unable to stand?

    Shall we not stand in praise because we don’t have the gift of singing well?

    Should I stay home on veterans day because my son had scoliosis and was never able to join the military and serve his country in that way?

    Should the VBS teachers and children forgo their program because working mom”s and dad’s are embarrassed that they were unable to take the week off and work in VBS (thus making them ineligible to stand)?

    On father’s day I will miss my dad not standing with other christian father’s; he passed away at the age of 90 and I miss him so much….. I would love seeing him standing there one more time.

    My main comment…. HONOR those men and women for whatever they have contributed to our lives…. it’s two or three minutes out of your life; grow up!!

  • Sarah

    I hear the wah-mbulance. I’m not a mother either, but I see no validity in failing to honor mothers for fear of alienating non-mothers. What are men to feel, or children? Being a mother deserves being honored. Stop whining and celebrate those women on your left and right. They cheered you on in endeavors that they have not/could not have undertaken. Give honor where honor is due.

  • Jennifer Gray

    This is really good. I have often pondered the problem. Not all ‘mothers’ fit the societal mold we hold up. There are Grandmothers who take over the role of mothers again when their children falter. There are Step-mothers who work just as hard as a birth mother and who are needed just as much. There are male-male parents where one of the men takes on the ‘mother’ role. There are also male-female parents who the male does the role of the ‘mother’. God is our mother just as much as our father.

  • Kristi

    To me and those close to me, being a Mother has always been more about what you do than the fact that you gave birth. There are plenty of women who were able to conceive and deliver, but are absolutely not worthy of the title mother. Mothers nurture, care, sacrifice, love, defend, and support.

    Although I’ve so far been unable to conceive, I’ve been a part of raising, nurturing, defending, loving, caring, and defending numerous children. Although I might never be able to conceive, I’m still a mother-figure. Does the fact that I can’t physically conceive and deliver make me less than those who have done so, yet care nothing for those children they’ve delivered to the world. There’s so much more to being a Mother than just the birthing part. Why can’t we honor all of those who offer a mother-figure roll to those around us, regardless of their ability to physically make a baby?

  • Tharpie

    So here’s my take. I think the whole dust up should make us think about where our hearts are. If we can’t honor others without expecting to be included or turning the whole thing into a “trophy for everybody” moment, our hearts and minds are turned very inward and we are missing the message of service and selflessness.

    Jesus did, in fact, honor some people while not honoring others. He elevated Peter to the leader of the church…not all the disciples. James was beloved of Jesus, more so than the others, but at no point did honoring and elevating those men degrade or dismiss the value of the others, and I guess that’s the point.

    Honoring mothers on mothers day, regardless of how, is not some commentary on non-mothers. It doesn’t do anything to devalue them. It doesn’t reduce their worth. It says absolutely nothing about “otherness.” It simply recognizes the contributions of a group of people without implication for anyone that is not a part of that group. To read in implications further implies a heart issue that needs addressing.

    This is the case with any recognition, not just moms. If we recognize sunday school teachers, or the music team, or the deacons wives are we saying anything about those that are NOT teachers, or musicians or deacons’ wives? Of course not!

    We need to change our hearts. We need to have joy when someone else in the body is honored, not envy or dejectedness. We should rejoice with our brothers and sisters at times of celebration and mourn with them at times of mourning. If our hearts are turned too much to ourselves we rob ourselves of the joy of elevating others instead of ourselves. I think this entire concept is an example of the negative messages the world is sending the church. We need to seriously re-evaluate how we are responding to those messages and how they are changing our hearts.

  • Jim Morrison

    I think you are a little to sensitive in this area.
    Mothers day is about celebrating moms, not emotional healing for woman with issues. If a woman lost her kids and that’s hard, that’s not the fault of a mother’s day celebration. That’s because she has some stuff to work through – I can’t imagine how hard that would be. But that woman can make a choice for herself, she’s a big girl. Do I consider myself a mom or not? This is not mothers day’s fault, but simply an emotional issue. So your not a mother, sit down and celebrate mothers. There’s a woman’s day you can stand up on if you would like. Mothers are awesome, and they totally deserve to stand and be applauded. The woman who’s children ran away might not stand because she feels like a failure, so may God heal her heart so she can stand.

    This argument is as ridiculous as those who say “We shouldn’t sat Merry Christmas because some people don’t celebrate it”. I’ll explain how for those of you who are going to glue on your lenses. Your argument is based on the premise that we aren’t considering every single person. So we either need to say “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, … oh but Jim over there is new age so … Happy Golden Light day, and oh Jane is mulim so Happy Mishra Day, etc… God forbid we forget one” And ruin the reason for the day in the first place, to celebrate Jesus’ birth, or in your case mothers!


    And btw for those of you fuming, blind to my sensitivity toward all mothers who have lost their children, or children who ran away – I’ll say I do care, celebrating mothers day does not negate caring. Quite the opposite, but “strong opinionated” people will be stubborn and blind as always.

  • Red

    I don’t deny or take lightly the brokenness and hurt that you and many women bear.

    But simply put:
    Removing the tradition of having Mothers stand to be recognized and honored on Mothers day, is not going to remove the brokenness and hurt you feel.

    To remove or heal the hurt that is in your life is only going to be removed with submission to God, and He can heal it.

    If the hurt in your life makes you uncomfortable when Mothers are ask to stand, no matter what is done in church to recognize and honor Mothers would cause the same pain.

    By your logic then a pastor cannot ever speak of motherhood because it would make you uncomfortable.

    If the hurt is there on mothers day wouldn’t it stand to reason that the same hurt is there the rest of the year.

    My heart and prayers goes out to anyone who has brokenness and hurt in their lives.

    You and others say you don’t go to church on mothers day because it makes you uncomfortable.

    UH .. What are you going to church for…….

    We are uncomfortable about a lot of things…..

    We feel uncomfortable when God convicts us of sin, but when we submit to Him He forgives us

    When we hurt He heals our hurts, if we have our heart in the right place…. –

    Sound like you are playing the victim card..and as long as you feel you are a victim you will never get over the hurt.
    Honestly for some it is more than feeling you are the victim .
    Some seem to be captive to your hurt, and only submitting to God can you be set free, Changing how a church honors mothers will not do it

  • Patricia

    Thank you for this article. I do not think people realize what a person like me goes though each Mother’s day. Even though I am blessed hat my mother is still with me, yesterday, she had to stay home from church due to a nasty cold. We are on the same committee at my church, and we did a presentation which all the mothers stood up. The original plan was to have all women stand up, but it did not turn out that way. I had to put on a brave face as I helped pass out a small token of appreciation to all mothers in the Sanctuary, who I am sure receive plenty of cards and presents for being a mom, and I, as a woman who is not able to have children receive nothing. I do not like these feelings, and to me it sounds kind of selfish both in my thinking and what transpired yesterday . It is a double whammy when you are an aunt, and have been told in the past that these types of things are just for moms. Well, what I always wanted to know is what am I when I have my sibling’s children with me? The public does not know that I am the aunt. They see me with children, and they assume that the child with me is my child, unless that person knows me personally.
    I will lovingly address that in our next meeting on my feelings about only having the mothers stand. I did when we we planned this but apparently it went over my head. It was a very awkward moment for me.

  • Bel

    Seems this is being looked at the wrong way…..
    I have read the article and all the replies and I am saddened. Im sadden that many of you are hurting, but what saddens me more is your responses..
    I had a son that was born dead, another son now 30 who was raised in church but now he is doing some of the most vile and evil things you could imagine..
    That did not stop me from going to church, and the pain was always present.
    But I didn’t go to the church or pastor and ask him to change how the church honored mothers.
    I did what many of you need to do.
    I went to God and ask Him to change ME.
    Change the way I saw these hurts in my life and how I saw what He had allowed in my life.
    This made all the difference in how I dealt with my hurt..

  • Rachel J.

    I find it interesting that most all who criticized the blog post were mothers. The snarkiness of some of these comments are so sad, and especially the smug “it never bothered me BEFORE I had my child(ren)…” and “quit being so self-centered.” And the implication that non-mothers are not ALSO in the trenches working 12 hour days and exhausting themselves! A GROSS lack of compassion is the main reason Christianity is dying in America. Our non-Christian neighbors and work acquaintances have always been more loving than the women in any church we’ve ever attended. Then, as others have asked, why is the church honoring people to begin with? We are in church to honor God, not the achievements of select groups of people. For decades there has been the myth that professional women criticize stay-at-home moms. I’ve seen the opposite consistently. The women in most conservative churches today act abominably toward women who have not had children. They treat them as non-persons. They shun them. As a result, few childless women regularly attend church. And the more the modern church worships motherhood and child bearing, the worse it gets. I’m quite old and have seen a lot, and I feel very sorry for the many women that God has called to do other things for His kingdom than to raise children. The blog post was well done. It was really about looking outside ourselves, putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and showing compassion to others.

    • Bel

      Rachel J. I dont know where you live, but dont group all churches in the same group, The things you said about the church you attended certainly do not describe the churches where I live.. You stated that the Church worships motherhood, You are wrong….Where I live we worship God and Thank him for God given mothers….Its obvious you have had a bad experience in the church and for that Im sorry, but dont paint all churches with your broad brush…

  • Kathy

    Pull up your big girl panties and be a mom if you want to be a mom that badly. She spent 20 years in China. Then she surely must have seen a few hundred Chinese children that needed forever families. And don’t say money is an issue. If you can afford a new car then you can afford to adopt. If you really wanted to be a mom then it really doesn’t matter who calls you a mom as long as someone does. I am the mom of two Chinese adopted children ages 10 and 7. In my mind there is no reason not to be a mom if it’s that important to you.

    • Tharpie

      Here Here! And bravo on being a mom of adopted children! So many of us pay lip service and don’t really invest. You have given so much!

    • Katie Mae

      I think that is a bit unfair. A a single woman who has a heart for adoption I know for at least me at this moment it is not right for me as or a child as a single to adopt. If at all possible I think children should have two parents and if possible a mom that can stay home with with them until they are school age. Is that living in a picture perfect dream world? Maybe it is.

      I know that if I have children through birth or adoption I want them to have a father, I want them to have me there 24/7. That is not at all to put down moms who have to/want to work outside the home. I’m just stating that I know me. If I could work full-time from the home and raise a child then maybe I would consider it adoption. Perhaps that is the same perspective that Amy is coming from.

    • Sarah

      Good for you that you were able to adopt your children, but don’t assume that everyone who wants to adopt can do so. The only reason I have a “new car” (which really isn’t, it’s 3 years old and used) is because the insurance paid for almost all of the one that was totaled in the severe wreck back in February and covered 2/3 of the amount of this one. (If I had been able to get out of the car when it 180’d into the guard rail, I probably would have died.) So for me, and I assume plenty of other people too, adoption is pretty much out of reach unless I win the lottery or something.

  • Kathy

    Psalms 127:3 NCV
    Children are a gift from The Lord. And often apostle Paul referred to Timothy as his son. So go be parents.

    • Pam

      And Paul also says it’s better to be single. You really need to learn to be compassionate for people who aren’t you, Kathy, otherwise people are going to keep seeing you as a Pharisee – because that’s how you come across.

  • Jan Stewart

    as a mother of loss to adoption I call foul……I do not thank you for perpetuating Adoption myths…..mothers day is fraught with angst and tears……..

  • Scot

    This is a truly stupid post. Sorry, but this is like saying your upset that you didn’t get to stand up in church on Fathers Day. Sounds to me the problem isn’t about the struggles of fertility and other hang-ups but your problems with God. It isn’t all about you and honoring others should not affect you! This is such a REAL problem with out society that soo many people think everything should be equal and that cause one group got something so should I, just because I want it? Really?

    Life is tough,…and things happen, it can be sad. If you can’t figure out what God’s Will is,…then maybe you should pay more attention in church, find a better church or just keep coming till it finally clicks. But don’t blame the Church cause you can’t figure it out.

    • Patti Lipsig

      Scot: as a man, you have NO idea what it feels like to be a childless woman. You don’t know what it’s like to be told having a child is the greatest purpose of your life [Fathers are respected, but a man is not looked at as a “failure” if he chooses not to have, or can’t have, children — not to the degree women are]. So I think you are really not in a position to presume you have the right to tell a woman how she “should” feel. This is not about standing up in church and getting a free flower; it’s about real pain, deep pain, that women are feeling, and their pain should not be trivialised, not by you or anyone else.

      • Tharpie

        I have to disagree, Patti. I detest the notion that because a man is a man, he has no right to comment. I think his perspective is valid and I don’t think he or anyone else should be trivialized.

  • Elisabeth

    I think the real problem here, from reading all these comments, is that most Christians have forgotten the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The author suggested slightly modifying the way we honor mothers in church to be sensitive to non-mothers … many of whom have deep wounds. Wounds with which mothers cannot empathize with and, by reading these comments, apparently don’t care to sympathize with. What has this article with its little suggestion brought forth? A whole lot of very proud and somewhat nasty speech from Christians. Proud speech about how y’all deserve to be honored and the childless ones need to get over it. What if the shoe were on the other foot? Are our churches thankful for its childless women, too? Ha! And we all sit around and wonder why people don’t like Christians. Reading some of your comments would certainly do it for me.

    • Jessi

      I agree whole-heartedly. When I shared this article online, a lot of people seemed to appreciate it. I came back here to check the author’s name and accidentally saw some of the comments. I’m appalled.

  • Beth

    This was a great post that I think every pastor should read! My mother has already passed away, and I am not a mother, and don’t know if I will ever be one. All of the mothers in my church on Sunday were told to come to the front and receive a gift. I felt humiliated and awkward, especially since there was only one other female left sitting. I can’t believe some of the insensitive comments, especially since the author isn’t saying to stop honoring mothers or celebrating the day. Mother’s day is a great day for the church to celebrate- it just wouldn’t hurt to maybe do it a little differently 🙂

  • TalleySueNYC

    I have a very different take on this. I’m a mom, and I wish churches would *stop* paying any attention to Mother’s Day at all.

    Just don’t even mention it, OK? Oh, sure, maybe at the end, “Oh, and happy Mother’s Day to you all.” Then stop.

    Because, you know, it’s just annoying. I’m in church to worship the Lord. To hear about Him. To worship and honor and glorify Him. I don’t need honoring and glorifying. My kids will do that, or my husband will, later, in the non-sanctified space of our home (fortunately not some overcrowded restaurant).

    Mother’s Day is not biblical. It’s completely a secular holiday. I don’t like the near-veneration of mothers (or fathers). Yeah, sure, it’s a tough job, but eh, lots of women do it. Some of them (not me) do it really well; some of them (not me) do it as a calling, almost a holy one. But, it’s just being a mom. Let’s not raise it up to such a high level that the entire church community (which already supports it a great deal, mind you) has to stop and nearly worship it.

    I’ll be honest, I also feel really frustrated by the “let’s honor all the not-mothers among us on Mother’s Day.” It’s not that logical; this is Mother’s Day, and it’s about mothers, and they’re not. But I totally understand the pain and the feelings of exclusion and devaluation. So if we all dialed WAY back on the Mother’s Day fuss, then the women who for whatever reason don’t have children won’t feel so undervalued.

    I can’t stand Mother’s Day, but especially not in church. If I weren’t the church organist, I’d stay home that day.

    • Elisabeth

      TalleySueNYC, your comment was mature, humble, and refreshing. And I’m sure you’re a really great Mom!!! God bless you and your family.

  • Lori Kaye

    I used to feel the same way on Mother’s Day…it seemed as though motherhood would never come to me, so I either stayed in the chapel while people were talking about their own mothers (because I have a super mom!) or would wait in the foyer until the “it’s so great to be a mom” talks were over. After my husband and I were married, we prayed that we would be able to welcome children into our home. A year and a half later, we were able to welcome children into our home…my niece and nephew after my sister died unexpectedly. I thought that finally I would be able to attend church on Mother’s Day without feeling like I didn’t belong, even though I wasn’t a “real” mother (as I was reminded my niece in he earlier days!). Then I was asked to give a talk on Mother’s Day during the service. In fact, my husband was asked to speak, and my niece and I were asked to sing a song together. At first, I didn’t know what to say, but after thinking long and hard about it, we decided that my husband would talk about his mother – who is wonderful! – and “mother” as a noun. I would speak about “mother” as a verb. It made me realize that I had been a mother (in the verb sense) my whole life. In fact, anyone who has ever read to a child, held a child’s hand to cross the street, told a child on the playground to be careful, prayed for a child who was hurt, smiled at a child, etc. has been a mother in the verb sense. I am a teacher and have had the chance to take care of other mother’s children for many years. One student years ago, told her mom that she was lucky that she had two moms…her mom at home and Miss Christensen in the classroom. Once I was able to realize that there is more to “mother” than meets the eye, I have been able to be ever so grateful to my sister, who being a mother as a noun and left her precious children to me, allowed me to be mother as verb! Happy Mother’s Day to ALL women!

    • Gretchen

      I love your post! Thank you for the words! They changed something in me, and I appreciate it so much!

  • Anne Sweeney

    Honor your father and your mother, so that you many live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20.

    The whole purpose of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is to honor this command by God himself. So 2 days out of 365, all people are reminded of God’s command; and that’s a bad thing? It’s supposed to be a day to think of the service of someone else; parents. But it’s also a command that should be practiced everyday of the year. It is not supposed to be a day wrapped up in self-pity, selfishness, and jealousy for what you don’t have. So Amy feels like a “shell of a human” because her mother and cousin got some praise and she didn’t? That’s called selfishness. It’s jealousy.

    People hurt 365 days of the year, not just on 1 day. Jesus teaches us to have compassion on all 365 days a year, but He also says to rejoice and obey his commands.

  • Rev Addie Forrester

    This is hard for us as Pastors, I had a woman say she wasn’t coming to church on Mother’s Day because she didn’t have a good relationship w/ her own and she didn’t want to hear all the sentimental stuff we were going to say. Then I thought of the women who didn’t have children or couldn’t, etc… So do we skip it all together so we don’t offend anyone? just say “Happy Mother’s Day” and be done? The reason we ask the moms to stand is so that the ushers will know who is a mom so that they can receive the traditional carnation . So, do we now just leave them in the vase and tell them to get their own flower when we dismiss? Who knows the right answer?

  • Joy Brewer

    I know that this has been stated over and over in a variety of ways throughout the comments, but I would like to address it also.
    I think it is important to keep in mind that Church isn’t just a place we go and practice our faith to the letter, i.e., exactly what is written in the bible and nothing more or less, because that would look a lot different for many of us. Think about it, does Jesus ever outline anything that looks remotely like modern day church? I think we need to remember that Church is also a place where we come together as a community of believers and create meaning, a culture. Within that community, we should be able to celebrate and honour each others’ accomplishments. We do this all the time. We honour new parents and their choice to dedicate their babies, we honour those who have chosen baptism, we honour graduates, fathers, service men and women, engaged couples, marriages, and the list goes on. Not all of these things are mentioned in the bible, and even the ones that are, don’t spell out the types of celebrations that we have established around them, but celebrating with and honouring those people who are living out these milestones creates a community. It is the culture we are fostering within our churches.
    I hear where the author is coming from, there is a yearning for some to be mothers who are not yet, or may never be. But what about the mother who has finally conceived after years of struggle and wants to shout from the roof tops and share her joy within the community that has informed an important part of her identity? She should be able to stand. She should be able to cry triumphantly at her realized accomplishment! What about the mother who may never be celebrated for anything else in her life? What if she pours her entire being into raising god fearing, loving and upstanding citizens? Should she not be able to feel honoured by her community? Should we, as a community not want to honour these women?
    Again, I hear you, but I think there is so much more going on here. When we create a community around beliefs that we hold in common, we create a cultural identity, we create personal meaning and craft our own identities around the central culture. This is huge. This is how we make meaning. Not everyone will be celebrated and honoured for everything. And yes, sometimes that hurts! Guaranteed, at some point you will be honoured for something, though, because a community that loves wants to share love. I truly feel that we need to spend more time considering the greater community (something that Jesus does discuss) and the way it is creating meaning and identity.
    Sometimes it’s okay to honour some individuals and not others. If this causes offence, we need to examine ourselves. The spirit of offence in the community can be very divisive if we allow if to take root. Let’s spend more time sharing love within our communities and less time feeling offended by the ways we aren’t experiencing love in that community.

  • Juili Bailey

    We’ve never had women stand in our church and nobody cares. Everybody knows who the mothers are anyways. We don’t hand out roses or anything else that might make it awkward either. We make a large donation to the local women’s shelter and let the women of our church know that it has been given in their honor…let’s face it, the flowers are dead by the time lunch is over anyway! Our women have always appreciated the gesture. Women who are mothers will be celebrated by their families…the only ones who really appreciate them on a personal level anyway.

  • Elena

    I can understand why a woman who isn’t a mother might feel pained, self conscious or conflicted on this day. At the same time, it’s a day that honors mothers, period. There should be a way to do that in the church yet I honestly don’t see how it can be done since everyone is so different and someone will always be offended. I have no answers, however, I will tell a story of someone whose maturity and unselfishness amazed me.

    When I was pregnant with my second child, I had to be hospitalized for almost a week before she was born. It was touch and go for awhile. My husband’s uncle’s fiancée discovered she was pregnant during this period. She was around 40 years of age and this would be her first and last pregnancy. She was thrilled only to lose the pregnancy a few weeks later. When my daughter was around six weeks old, I was thrown a baby shower. To my surprise, this woman attended, brought a present, held my baby and sincerely told me how happy she was that my baby was healthy. I was blown away. I already felt uncomfortable by her presence because I didn’t know what to say to her. I also knew fully well that I would not have reciprocated in kind at her baby shower had my child not made it. Instead, she thought of me and not of herself.

    Please understand, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t show love and compassion to those who are hurting. Not at all. Still, on this one day of the year, can’t we find a way to rejoice with those who rejoice? Perhaps we could honor moms a different way (not having them stand, for example) in the church so as not to single out anyone. That might be a good place to start.

  • Laura Tudor

    Hi, I’ve read a lot of these comments and plan on reading them all because I think it’s important to hear what my Christian sisters have to say. I have been on pretty much all sides of this coin. I was childless for a long time, blessed with 3 boys, had a miscarriage and my 3rd boy died 3 months after his 2nd birthday. All three of them special needs children. There were times I was silently hurt or offended by others who have had a different blessing then me. I do understand what it feels like. What I realized as I read scripture and prayed was that not only is God sovereign but Christ is sufficient and He can heal that pain. It doesn’t matter if mothers stand or stay seated. That feeling of despair, disappointment, grief etc is the same that day or any day. We all have things that cut us deep when reminded of what we don’t have but truthfully, the problem lies within our own hearts.

  • Pastor Cindy

    As a pastor, I acknowledged Mother’s Day this way…’to those of you who are mothers, who have mothers, who have had someone mother you…to those of you who have grandmothers or who have served as substitute mothers….to those of you whose mothering heart has had to find a way to fill that place….we honor you.” hoping that was encompassing enough, and knowing firsthand the sadness of miscarriage.

  • Jen Siek

    I saw this reposted with an added in line reading “To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day” but this line isn’t on your posting above, so I will assume somebody just lifted and added it in somewhere…

    • Darlene Schacht

      Yes, it was in the original. I discussed it with Amy and said that leaving it in would likely turn this into an online debate about abortion without being able to expand with my thoughts on the topic in the post. I did address it in the comments when it came up. This is also a real heartache for many who live with regret. My heart is with them.

  • Jen Siek

    I think it’s great to be sensitive and as grace filled as possible, but we are living in a world that is so quick to be offended, imo.

  • Thomas

    As a 42 yo male with no children of my own, I know how the author feels. Every father’s day it’s the same thing for me.

  • William

    To all the Ladies out there (and gentlemen). i would like to leave you with Mark chapter 3 verses 33-35. AMP “33. And He Replied, Who are My mother and My brothers? 34. And looking around on those who sat in a circle about him, He said, See! Here are My mother and My brothers; 35. For whoever does the things God wills is My brother and sister and mother.” I celebrated my Mother on mothers day. Only thing is I didn’t meet her until i was 4 years old. Regardless of the fact that she doesn’t share any DNA with me, She is still my mother! Everything i understand about unconditional love, she taught me. I didn’t even come from her womb, and in my case she fought the good fight of faith anyway, and as a result i am a minister today. I would encourage every lady here to meditate on Mark 3:33-35 and ask the Lord, :”Who have you called me to be a mother to?” There are little ones out there who so desperately need a mother, and as mine proved, you don’t have to be genetically related to them. God Bless you all!

  • Ann

    I sang with the praise team at my church. One year during the mother’s day service all the mothers were asked to stand so that the youth could give them flowers. It turned out that none of us in the choir loft were mothers. We looked at each other as if to say, here’s something else we have in common.
    It was an awkward moment and those in the pews noticed and gave every woman a flower. I wish I could say they stopped doing that or asking the oldest mother or the youngest mother to stand. Instead I no longer attend church on Mother’s Day. I too can identify with the writer. I had 5 unsuccessful cycles of In vitro with ICSI and other more traditional, but still unsuccessful methods of artificial insemination, etc. The last attempt I made lasted 7 weeks and had to be removed because it was a blighted ovum.
    It hurt when I gave away all the maternity and baby clothing that my cousin in Canada had given me to
    an unwed mother at my previous church. When her mother asked how I got them and why I was giving them away that’s when the tears began. I am no longer married and I had a hysterectomy a few years ago, so I will not be having children of my own. I consider the children that I work with as an educator and in the Children’s Church music ministry, my nieces, nephew and godchildren mine.

  • Rebecca Howe

    How about, to those who have chosen not to have children. Just because I have chosen not to, doesn’t mean I never wanted to. I’m not a horrible person who hates kids. There are circumstances in my life that would make it wrong for me to bring a child into the middle of it.

    Why can’t we just have a day for women in general?

  • Meg

    This to me, is one of those circumstances that is tricky. It is Mother’s Day and to ask that mothers not be recognized in church or wherever seems selfish. I am a mom and I have miscarried and had a baby die at birth so I understand and empathize with the points made, but at what point do we stop doing everything out of fear that someone will feel left out or have hurt feelings. Life is so funny…I am a mom of 4 beautiful kids but I hate Mother’s Day. Why? Because my own sweet mom left this earth when I was 27. I miss her every day and Mother’s Day is the worst. Being a mom doesn’t help. I would never expect other people to not honor their mom in whatever way they want because I don’t have a mom. Loss, choosing to not be a mom, having the fates decide you are not a mom or don’t have a mom…that is what I call life. Ups and downs. Joy and sorrow. To tip toe around it to me helps no one.

  • suzanne potter

    Great article. But I would also add another line to the continuum of mothering…

    “To those women who don´t want to have children, we appreciate you nonetheless and celebrate all that you are. We will not condemn you or think of you as wierd.”

  • Patsy Seabolt

    I was married 9 years before I had my first child. During that time, I wanted a child so bad. I remember choosing to send my gift to another’s baby shower rather than attend. People don’t mean to be hurtful, but someone would always say, “When are you going to have a baby?” I didn’t have to answer or deal with the hurt if I just didn’t go. The hurt is real, I remember it all too well. Today, I can rejoice, as I eventually had 2 children. However, I will never tell another woman how she is supposed to feel, when she is barren.

  • Noel

    Dear Amy,

    Thank you so very much for what you have written. I appreciate what you have to say. I am so glad that, on Mother’s Day morning, I made a decision just before getting up to open the service to NOT ask mothers to stand and I did so for the very reason you have outlined above. Instead, I simply said, “Happy mothers day. Mothers, we love you and appreciate all that you have done and will do for us.” Then I asked everyone to show appreciation to their mothers by clapping.

    Now, what I want to know (and I want open and honest feedback from everyone), if you have any suggestions or comments that might make this day better for some women who have had a rough go of it. I couldn’t think of how to better do this, but even as I was saying these things, I still had a feeling of uneasiness that this moment might bring sadness for some ladies. So, help me out for the future.

    In Christ,

    Noel Muscutt

  • Jessi

    Yet another lovely blog post marred by people in the comments who so obviously didn’t read the piece. How sad.
    I find it extremely ironic that so many people are implying it’s selfish for someone to be uncomfortable with the awkward tradition of having mothers stand in church on mother’s day. Do you realize what you are saying? You are saying “I know you may be in excruciating emotional and spiritual pain, but please put your pain aside. I deserve to be acknowledged. I deserve to have everyone look at me.” Is that not an amazing example of selfishness?
    I will spare you the details of my own painful experiences on Mother’s Day (which, coincidentally, fell on my birthday this year. How wonderful to be reminded of my childlessness- motherhood is the greatests desire in my life- at every turn, when really I just want a cupcake, please.) I will instead tell you how my church decided to honor mothers this year. In the past, we’ve done the standing thing- and so I would sit, along with others who are experiencing the same difficult things that I am. And I would feel horrible. One year, when we did our “greetings” portion of the service, the music minister told us to say hello to those around us and offer up a “happy mother’s day.” Three different people told me “happy mother’s day” before adding an awkward “I’m sorry” after seeing that I was not accompanied by a child. This year was different. My pastor gave a speech about mothers, and those who do “mothering”, and asked us all to clap for them. Everyone could clap, because 99.9999% of us in that room knew someone who mothered us, or did mothering ourselves, even if we did not have mothers or were not mothers. It was wonderful! I felt at peace- and I know I wasn’t the only one. Mothers were honored, and fragile hearts were held together a bit better. If any of you complainers had been at my church on Sunday, I think you would have been quite pleased- and hopefully you wouldn’t have thought “well what kind of church is this? They didn’t even ask me to stand! Don’t they know I’m a mother?”
    If you have a serious problem with this post, or are offended by it’s alleged coddling tone or some other nonsense, I suggest you invest in a pair of reading glasses and give it another go. I thought it was wonderful. It said what I have wanted to say for the past four mothers days, but couldn’t because I didn’t want to sound self-pitying. Some day I’ll be able to hear “happy mother’s day” from children who call me mom, but until then, please keep in mind that standing up in church so people can clap for you is a privilege, not a right, and it’s one that should probably be reconsidered. We can clap for you from our seats, without having a visible reminder of our exclusion of this coveted club called “motherhood.”

    • Anne Sweeney

      “I know you may be in excruciating emotional and spiritual pain, but please put your pain aside. I deserve to be acknowledged. I deserve to have everyone look at me.”

      That is not what other moms are thinking. That is what you are thinking. Motherhood is not a club to join. And if you think it is, you seriously need to think about what you really want.

      One of the first steps in being a mom is learning how to set aside your emotions, needs, and wants. Because from day one, that is what the job requires. If you can’t do that for one day, how do you expect to be able to due that the rest of the year ( as well as the rest of life) when it is going to be required of you as a mom?

      As a mom, there have been countless days that I have had to put aside my needs, wants, desires, and yes, intense emotional pain simply because of the needs of a child or my husband had to come first.

      Believe me, children will not care about how bad your emotional pain is until they have grown to appreciate you as a mom; probably why God himself put the command in his top 10 list of laws.

      We have a heavenly Father who loves us so deeply, so intensely. But that Father loves us so much that he will not leave us in our selfishness. He uses pain and longing to bring us closer to himself. He also uses pain and longing to transform us into the people He needs us to be and into the likeness of Jesus.

      Holidays are hard for everyone. All people hurt for one reason or another and holidays have a way of making the pain more intense. If you are in church and somehow feel like a “shell of a human”, that is NOT a thought from God nor is it a thought from most people in the service. That is a thought from the father of lies himself.

      I hope Pastors reading these blogs take into consideration what the sheep are saying. But you should not be delivering sermons to please the sheep. You should be getting your inspiration from the Holy Spirit himself. Being connected to the Head of Jesus Christ and speaking truth is more important than the opinions of the sheep.

  • Gretchen

    I was so impressed by your letter and the active discussion it inspired, I shared the topic with my husband. He said, “isn’t that like celebrating all the people in church who have the use of their legs, and telling them to go up front and be honored for their accomplishment, leaving those who never have walked, or lost that ability, to wallow in their seats?” Yes, yes it is. What a great guy!

  • Kath

    and its not often we hear about them, but there are women who have had their children taken away from them, who also need our love and concern.

  • Bel

    Not everyone is blessed with a biological family that shares in the joys of their faith.
    For some, Mother’s Day is hard because it feels like a mandate to honor someone who has hurt them. Someone who abused them emotionally, physically, or spiritually. For them, it’s important to remember that despite our pain, God does not make exceptions.
    We are all called to honor our father and mother (Matthew 15: 4–6). For others, Mother’s Day is yet another reminder of the people they have lost.
    The Bible provides us with exceptional models of the ideal mother. One of the most prominent is in Proverbs 31:10–30. Mothers care for their families by emotionally, spiritually, and physically providing for them.
    In the body of Christ, we are surrounded by women who pour wisdom and love into our lives and devote their own time and finances to care for us. These are our spiritual mothers.
    Even for your physical mother, getting a card and saying happy Mother’s Day probably isn’t the most meaningful way to show your appreciation for her.
    It’s the act of lifting her up and pausing everything else going on in your life to remember her and love her that shows your honor for her. For Mother’s Day, let’s honor the mothers in our physical families, but let’s also take a moment in the body of Christ to lift up the women of faith who don’t have kids, but love and care for us all the same.

  • Murph

    We stand for graduates, we stand for military, we stand when we are members and are asked to agree to take part in the lives of a baptized person or new members, we stand for those who helped in whatever ministry we are honoring on a particular day. Honor when it is due.

    • Heather

      All of the things that you mentioned standing for and honoring are things that are choices. Soldiers choose to be in the military, students choose to graduate by doing all of their requirements, new members choose to join…Women who would love to have a baby and become a mother do not choose if they are unable to become pregnant or not. (just pointing out an observation-this is not a personal attack at you!) I am a soldier. I chose to join. I am a wife who has not been able to get pregnant. That is not my choice. Thank you for your opinion and God bless.

  • Aeriol Alderking

    Having read a number of these comments, I am amazed at the selfish attitudes of those who think people who cannot have children should just “suck it up, buttercup”. The scripture regarding rejoicing also has mourning in it. It says to stand with both; not mutually exclusive. Those who compare child-bearing to Awanas are, in my opinion, nuts! Are you kidding me? Who chooses to not bear a child when they desperately want to be fruitful? Choosing Awana club membership is hardly the same. That said, I was a single parent with two children. I was never really honored because I was divorced with a large D branded on my forehead. The church can be a far more judge-mental place than the world. Furthermore, my best friend was dumped by her husband; his parting words… you can’t have kids so you’re not worth staying married to. I had a miscarriage and some woman was furious because I did not want to immediately volunteer with the babies on Sunday morning. Was Jesus this insensitive? I do not think so. He cried when Lazarus died, even though he knew that he would raise him from the dead. I loved being a mother and all the hardships that went with it. But I would never rub that into my friend’s wounds. My daughter-in-law desperately wants children, but my son is medically unable at this point. My daughter hates the church and is now in a lesbian lifestyle. My kids have seen so much hypocrisy that they cannot see God. My daughter’s father, wonderful Christian that he is, was busy committing adultery and wanted me to abort her on the possibility that she might be disabled. Life is complex. I have compassion for people wherever they are. It is time that those who think their honor comes before consideration for all the members of the body, learn that to hurt others is to hurt yourself. Hammer your own foot and see if you don’t hop around. That is the body of Christ, honoring the head, Christ , and each other without causing pain. It can all be accomplished which is the point of this article. I never had to stand in a church to feel honored. My children rise up and call me blessed regardless of their choices. This year my daughter made a donation to the Cambodian Children’s fund in my name. She said: “Hey Mom, Happy Mothers Day! True mothers love every child not just their own. You taught me that! Love you” She and her girlfriend took me out for dinner. My son has honored me countless times. Let’s love one another in the true spirit of mothering and thereby demonstrate that we are followers of Christ.

  • Aeriol Alderking

    Another Mother’s Day experience at church involved a baptism of babies. The happy parents went forward with their children. All were couples save one single mom who had her baby out of wedlock. She had to confess her sin for having that child before the entire church so that she could have her baby accepted. I was totally disgusted and refused their gift of violets. When I went to the pastor for an explanation, he said that her Bible study group was against her being accepted into the church and this was the compromise. She was a new Christian and had had a lot of misconceptions that had to be straightened out. I told him, if I was pregnant out of wedlock and witnessed that, I would probably go have an abortion. Where is grace??? With God ALL things are possible. You can honor people and still be compassionate towards others. Those two things do not need to be mutually exclusive. Tromping on people because it is your “right” to be honored is an excuse to be insensitive and nothing more.

  • Hanes

    Mothers Day is a day to honor your OWN mother, not demand the admiration of others. Why not invite EVERYONE, male or female, parent or not, to stand in honor and memory of the motherly figures in their lives?

    I’m not sure I’ve witnessed this “stand and be honored” Mothers Day tradition, because it’s been decades since I learned never to set foot in a church on Mothers Day — too excruciating for someone who wanted children but couldn’t have them. But I’m horrified to learn that some churches still do this. I’m even more horrified at the comments here by those who feel that their own need for attention is more important than the pain it causes others. And the irony is that some them called YOU selfish. What a stunning and ironic blend of self-involvement and lack of self-awareness. It was self-righteous, mean-spirited people like that who inspired me to take a step back, take a critical look at the whole religion, and leave it behind entirely. Reading the comments here just confirms that I made the right choice.

  • CheeryO

    My mother left me when I was four and I never saw her again – she started a new life and never looked back. She had other children, and I guess she loved them. But I do not honor her on Mother’s Day.

    I waited for Mr. Right to have my own children – but I didn’t find him until I was 48, and it was too late. He has three nearly-grown children who I enjoy and support and care about. Their mother often refers to me as worthless for never having had children. She feels superior to me in every way. And I allow that, because… deep down I guess I believe that she is superior.

    I am often treated like the “empty shell” and not just on Mother’s Day. Every day.

    Thank you for acknowledging that this bias happens, and that it hurts.

  • Heather

    My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years and I am a step-mom. That term, *step-mom*, in itself is a hard job. The public views you as someone who should love this child as their own, but if you do actually love this child as your own no one believes you. I feel like it is no one’s business! My step-daughter knows I love her and she *feels* loved by me. She knows I pray for her daily and I care what happens to her so it is only her business. She quite possibly may be the only child I ever get to *mother* and on most days I am at peace with that if that is God’s will….Mother’s day is something else entirely! I *feel* like a mother to my step-daughter, but don’t feel like I should get credit because I only do it *part-time*. My husband and I are the youngest couple in a country church where the majority of its members are well over 50(we are in our 30s)….they have all had children and there are times I feel as if I am the only person in the whole church building that hasn’t passed on any DNA to a smaller version of myself. I am always recognized with the rest of the Mothers, but it is almost as if I don’t feel I *deserve* the recognition and when the “remember when pregnancy” talk(always on Mother’s day in Sunday school)it just makes me very sad since before I met and married my husband I had a miscarriage. Thank you for this article it was very touching and nice to realize that I am not alone!

  • Laura


    THANK YOU for this post and beginning not only the essence of women supporting women, but bringing to light my experience (I felt like the only woman that has suffered thru this!).

    First of all – our son was born prematurely, was with us two days, and passed from the complications of his premature birth. (That was 40 years ago this year – yet my arms ache to be able to hold my son…something they did not allow back then!)

    We were married for 11 years before we adopted our first (of two) daughters. During that time we underwent various fertility treatments, checked into adoption at various areas….then we would back off for our sanity. This was a back & forth process. ALL of this in order to become the Mom I always dreamed I’d be and my husband could begin the family he wanted.

    I didn’t miss church on those Sundays because it pleased the woman that had stepped forward to be my Mom in every way that counts! Yet – I, too, went thru the “standing Moms” ritual, the handing out of flowers for “Moms only”, the sermons based on those already mothers, etc., etc. It made an already extremely emotional day even harder to bear. I wanted to go home, slip into bed, pull the covers over my head, and be surrounded by blessed sleep until the following day. Yet – it usually ended up being a day filled with rounds to our mothers & grandmothers. I smiled & endured.

    ONLY those of us that have lived these experiences can understand just how deep the pain can be – what that actually FEELS like.

    THANK YOU for bringing this subject up. Every Mother’s Day I now have many people on my prayer list …… including my prayers for those that for one reason or another Mother’s Day is so painful!

  • Ally | A Home Called Shalom

    I didn’t read through all the comments (there were a lot!), so if someone already mentioned this, I’m sorry for being repetitive.

    As a woman struggling with infertility, I guess I’m confused by this post. In my understanding, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate my mother (and all the women who have poured into my life throughout the years). It’s not about me- about my infertility, or the fact that I may never be a mother- it’s about honoring those wonderful women who have made me who I am today. It’s not about celebrating me, it’s about celebrating them!

    Mother’s Day isn’t a hard day for me as an infertile woman- because I’m blessed to still have my mother and grandmothers with me on this side of heaven. I can see how it would be a hard day for someone grieving the loss of his or her mother (or grandmother, or mother-in-law…).

  • Ben

    I’m a retired United Methodist minister who faced every Mother’s and Father’s Day with a huge mixture of feelings due to the many personal experiences that have been expressed in the above replies. My early years, when my mother was alive, I did have mothers stand in church. However, I paid attention to my discomfort and searched for a more sensitive way. No doubt my way did not resolve all, perhaps none, of the struggles expressed but it was I came to through a great deal of prayer and meditation. Rather than celebrating mothers and fathers, I asked all who were involved in mothering and fathering to stand. I knew many women who biologically were unable to birth a child. As a hospital chaplain, I knew many mothers who gave birth only to suffer the loss of their baby. I also knew of those who chose to not give birth to a child. Those who gave birth, those who gave birth and suffered the loss of the child, those who adopted or for many reasons were denied adoption, those who chose to not birth a child, and many others, including some men, provided mothering for many children in homes, schools, churches, and on the streets. I asked everyone who provided mothering to stand. If I have permission to copy this entire article I will make a leaflet to insert in our church bulletin. Thanks for the article and for the many responses.

  • Rue

    Thank you for your insight into a day that is painful for me on both sides–my Mother is in heaven and I’ve never heard (and most likely never will given my age and medical conditions) the sweet sound of someone calling me Mother. I’ve posted it on my Facebook page as I’m not bold enough to send it to my pastors directly. I hope they take the time to read it and realize that trying to recognize mothers, especially by asking them to stand, only accentuates the pain for so many.

  • Setta

    For those saying that it is not dishonoring women who are childless to ask those who have children around them to stand, I think you have not placed yourselves in our shoes. For example, there are those of us who are doing God’s will by keeping the harmony in our marriages. Perhaps we have husbands who do not want children, despite the desperate longing that we ourselves feel. Perhaps we’ve prayed and prayed that his decision would change, but it has not. Perhaps we suspect that we may not be physically able to have children anyway, or perhaps we have physical disabilities that may make it hard to raise children, so we wonder if perhaps, God gave us this particular mate, because He knew that we would not be able to live through our heart’s desire of having children. So, perhaps it is soul-crushing for us not to stand as every woman around us stands. This doesn’t mean that we don’t honor our own mothers, our mothers-in-law, our step-mothers, our grandmothers, and those who have acted as mothers to us, but it does mean that we don’t appreciate being singled out by not standing. And yes, that’s exactly how it feels. Just exactly like that. And believe me, I’m asked quite frequently enough why I don’t have children by well-meaning, lovely women who have children, many of whom are standing. Many of those who stand didn’t know that I don’t have children, so now many of them must know why not. So, now you all know. And when you don’t see me in church on Sunday, you’ll know the answer to that question, as well.

  • Beth

    I see this from both pt of view I went through 2 very hard mothers days after I got married and started trying to have a baby it was heartbreaking to be told it might never happen but I loved my mother to death and it felt great to see her stand and be recognized (by someone other then her own family) for all the work she put into raising the 7 of us. When my miracle happened and I found out that I was 6 months pregnant I really didn’t think about mothers day till it came around again but it made me feel so good after being up all night with a teething baby (and a husband who though was with me and cried every month when our dreams did not come true suddenly turned into this complete other person who wanted nothing to do with me and our son.) to have them talk about the hard work mothers put in and have us stand up and have the church pray for us. Have you ever thought how much a mother may need that yeah we have our children but life is rough children are not perfect and life is not rosy, we put in a lot of work and we get one day of recognition have you ever considered what that recognition might mean to a mother on her last rope to be recognized and prayed for just when she might be needing it.

  • Lori

    Dear Lady, I wish I could give you a big HUG! I am of the “single, never married and no children” kind of woman although having that has been my greatest dream! I sometimes say to others “I have a mother’s heart” when they ask me if I have children–and this is true. But how I have longed for a child to nurture and raise and not having a husband and child, a family to love and grow with makes me feel so very invisible!! Every holiday, every celebration seems to include or focus on families. When I die, if God doesn’t see fit to bring a Godly mate into my life, I will die alone most likely. I am not asking for pity, just stating the possibility. And I want to thank you for recognizing those of us who sometimes feel invisible, who sometimes WISH to be invisible and for all that could have been and is yet to be! God Bless you, Lori

  • Megan H.

    I guess I fall into the category of “mixed feelings” as well. I certainly know the pain and yearning of a child – through the miscarriage my mom had of my baby sister, the miscarriage my best friend had, and through my own struggle and fears with infertility. Through all of that my family and my church family has mourned with me and those around me who have suffered as well. So now, when we have Mother’s Day to thank and celebrate mothers, it is difficult for me of course, but I consider it an act of love to share in the joy of the mothers that get to stand on Mother’s Day. They shared in my sorrow so it would be incredibly selfish for me to refuse to share in their joy. Sharing in their joy does not diminish my pain – just like sharing in my pain does not diminish their joy of being a mother.
    What I find interesting in this thread, and even in the article, is that there is a lot of ‘problem identifying’ where people have issues with the practice of standing and yet there really isn’t any ‘problem solving.’ I understand that you want to honor mothers on Mother’s Day without being singled out, however, how do you propose that should happen? You can replace standing with any type of recognition and it will still only recognize those women that have children. That’s the nature of celebrating Mother’s Day. Please don’t misunderstand me. I have compassion and love. I am the first person to sit next to a grieving mother, or grieving non-mother who wants to be one, and just cry with them. I know the sorrow – but that doesn’t keep me from sharing in the joy of other mothers.

  • Mary

    Thank you! I just sent your article to my entire church staff. I used to be on staff and know that planning Mother’s Day is always tough because you don’t want to offend or hurt anyone. Bravo!

  • Elizabeth

    My church always did all the women in the church on Mother’s Day. Our pastor said that the reason we did this was to honor not just women who actually physically were mothers, but all the ways that all women care for others, just as mothers do. If a woman was an adult, they received a flower (or whatever small gift we gave out that year). The same for Father’s Day. I like this way of honoring men and women instead of just singling out the parents.

  • Minda

    I’m guessing someone else has said the same thing I’m about to say- but I didn’t have time to read all 400+ comments.

    As a 30 something single woman- should I not stand at my friends weddings? I’ve been a bridesmaid 10+ times and attended more than 100 weddings in the last 10 years. Should I have refused to go? Should I have said no to my friend asking me to be a bridesmaid? Because it stings each time another friend gets a ring? Should I refuse to throw the shower….decline on the bachelorette parties?

    With each friend, I’ve attended. I’ve celebrated. And I’ve stood in that church wearing the same dress as 6 other girls. Does it sting? Yes. Does Jesus know that? Yes. But He is kind enough to take care of my wounds and wipe the tears.

    Celebrate with the moms. It may sting. There may be tears. But trust that your Jesus will wipe your tears. He will tend to your wounds.

  • Elizabeth

    I worked in an assisted living facility about 10 years ago. We made a big to do for mother’s day, then I realized we had several that didn’t have children. I talked to those women individually and explained that I think every woman is a mother. They have helped reared children, been aunts and I’m sure confidants to many so I made sure to honor each of them. Someone talking to them about it seemed to make them feel much better too.

  • GerBear

    When your identity is in Christ resisting the temptation to covet or idolize the station/role of another becomes a moot point as your own self-worth is rooted in who Christ says you are & not what others say you are… or in this case “aren’t”. I am discouraged to hear this type of entitled thinking creeping into the body of believers. You are no more entitled to be free of sadness, pain, or longing than a woman who is seen as a ‘mother’ is entitled to honor, praise, or satisfaction. Those looking to honor Mothers are looking to honor all that they do for their children. Your response to this attempt to honor them is just that….. your response. Should you choose to lay down the pain that comes with the loss of a child or the inability to conceive one at the foot of the cross believing that He has written your story, sees your anguish, & has plans to see you through it (if you will let Him) perhaps then you too will be able to put your thoughts of self aside to encourage the sister next to you who is likewise striving to fulfill her God-given role as a Mother of souls God has chose to give her. Just as your pain is real…. so is the Mother’s work. I see no glory for God in denying one encouragement so as to not to discourage another. Either His grace is sufficient enough….. or it’s not. We must each choose to walk before Him in selflessness & grace while putting our neighbor before ourselves. I contend the woman who chastises those wishing to encourage another for their true efforts due to their own desire to partake in said efforts is NOT putting their neighbor before themselves. Look to Christ ladies! Bring your heart’s ache to him & him alone. Let us not scold one another for taking the time to honor those who are glorifying God as Mother’s simply because you want be one.

  • Chelsea

    Thank you. Thank you for saying the things that my heart has been saying for so long but felt guilty about feeling.

  • Lisa McIntyre

    I shared your story on my FB wall. Here’s my take….and I’m sorry if it seems harsh…..

    I guess I have a very different take on personal suffering. I have both had a miscarriage AND a difficult relationship with my mother (who is now on a long, painful road of dying and slipping away into Alzheimers). These are things that have befallen me, cut me in half, made me question God, made me question humanity. But never, ever, ever, ever did I ever think that people should change the way they recognize and celebrate mother’s day because of MY suffering.
    I have never lacked for friends and loved ones to lend me a shoulder to cry on. Two weeks after I miscarried, a friend of mine announced she was pregnant. She called me and said that she planned on making an announcement on facebook, but wouldn’t if it would hurt me too much. What makes me sad is that there is probably a woman out there that would get mad at her friend for being happy that she’s pregnant. I can think of nothing more selfish.
    We are put on this earth to be tested. We face maladies, they hurt, they make us bleed, they make us wish we were dead, they make us wish someone else was dead. But the world doesn’t stop for them. Sometimes we have to take ourselves out of the world a little bit to deal with them. I’ve been really down since my divorce. But never once did I suggest to my Bishop that we not honor people’s marriages publicly because I am sad about the ending of my own marriage.
    The choice is yours. You can either wear your victimhood like a heavy coat years after the event, expecting everyone around you to make accommodations, dampen any celebrations that come their way, and walk on eggshells around you, or you can attempt to pass the test that God has given you, all the while remaining part of the living.
    I like what she said about including ALL seasons of motherhood and recognizing it (moms with children, moms who have miscarried, moms who have a strained relationship with their children, etc) but I’m sorry she’s in her 30’s without a child and feels “awkward” in church on Mother’s day. To the women she wrote about who stay home from church on Mother’s day because it’s too hurtful, that is your choice, but I would hope you would have sisters in your church that can help you shoulder that burden. However, do you really need everyone else to not celebrate and acknowledge mothers on Mother’s Day because YOU are hurting?

  • Jess

    I hate that there are people that feel “less than” on Mother’s Day, but it’s not women’s day or the day to say thanks to all those that support moms. It’s Mother’s Day. Is it “shaming” those who aren’t moms? Of course not! I never knew this was an issue, so thank you for opening my eyes.

  • Santana

    Honestly, it is MOTHER’S DAY. A day to acknowledge all the things that Mother’s do on a daily basis that do not get acknowledged. It is ONE DAY out of 365 that it is actually expected that you will tell your Mom thank you. Maybe, just maybe, stop being so completely self centered. If you can’t handle that everything is not directed at you or for you I’m not sure how you make it through life. I wasn’t a mom on mother’s day, but I still went to church, and enjoyed the service, even though my mom was struggling with addiction and not a part of my life. Here is a thought, my partner is away frequently and pretty clueless about things like birthday’s, Christmas, and ohhh, Mother’s Day too, so… in my family Church is the only place I get any acknowledgement. I should probably forgo that though, so that no one gets any hurt feelings. Here is a thought, be a mother. It isn’t all biological. Mother someone. Mother your neighbors, join a mentoring program, adopt an older child (they need homes too), the physical act of giving birth is not what makes a mother.

    • breed7

      Oh, honey, the plural of “mother” is not “mother’s.” Why do women insist on remaining uneducated?

      Would you tell me to my face to “be a mother” less than a year after my only child died of cancer?

      By the way, sweetheart, if “Church” (note the inappropriate capitalization) is the only place you receive acknowledgement, then your life is sadder than mine, because your family doesn’t care for you. Hmm, I wonder why, with your open and loving attitude…?

    • Sarah

      I think you missed the point of the article? It wasn’t to say “don’t celebrate mothers”, it was to say “celebrate mothers in a way that doesn’t exclude those in pain.”

  • Tammy

    I do not agree with this at all. I am late 30’s and unable to have children…. We all have mothers ,grandmothers,sisters and whoever else. If we can’t go to church one day a year and honor women who are mothers without making it about ourselves then we may need some serious help. Let’s get it together… We all have a burden to bare nobody escapes life without it….But guess what, life goes on. We are alive and hopefully healthy, stop obsessing about what you don’t have and celebrate someone else’s day, without making it about you and your problems.

    • breed7

      Burden to “bare”? Really?

      There is nothing “Christian” about Mother’s Day. There are many people who find it hurtful. I lost my only child to cancer, and, let me tell you, Mother’s Day is painful beyond words for me. I don’t leave the house on that day.

      When uneducated people tell me to “stop obsessing” about what I don’t have, I feel like I should leave “church” to the uneducated, because they’re the only ones who seem to go anymore.

      So, honey, please do the world a favor and stop telling people who are in pain that we’re making it all about us and our “problems.” YOU’RE the problem, Tammy.

      • Renee

        I really don’t understand. It is just 1 minute of 1 day…. The anger and selfishness on both sides is really disappointing. My church does not have mothers stand up or get flowers…but so what if they did? If you are childless, for whatever reason, Mother’s Day is just hard. In fact, I would propose that many days are hard. Going to the grocery store and seeing pregnant women or going to the movies and seeing a family walking in together. It is just a hard thing to live with. But…why begrudge someone else 1 minute of 1 day each year? I just don’t understand why that is such a big deal.

  • Stephanie

    This is beautiful and should also be done for fathers day. The only edit I would make would be adding the line “Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.” to the mothers that have lost a child instead of just for the mothers that are having fertility issues.

  • Annette

    For those of us who were raised by abusive mothers, your prayer for us is a little cold. We don’t need to be told “we acknowledge you”. A much better prayer would be to offer us the comfort and compassion that we did not receive from our own mothers.

  • Sherri

    You mentioned tone of writing. I am afraid of how this will read but I must respond.

    This article reads to me like much of the PC speech of our society. If we can stop looking at things from the lens of how we feel and view it from the lens of others. Why take an idea meant to celebrate the one person in our individual lives who should mean the world to us and belittle the effort. Don’t get me wrong I have no issue with celebrating the others you mentioned but don’t stop me from celebrating mom’s traditionally.

    I know the feeling of 7 lost adoptions and 3 miscarriages. I know the feeling of wondering if I would ever be a mom. Instead of hiding I embraced other mothers and celebrated by asking the Pastor to allow me to lead the service and celebration. It was my way of getting involved.

    I now have 3 children, 1 bonus daughter, 1 future bonus son, 2 granddaughters and 1 on the way. I have not forgotten the emptiness but i learned a new level of stress and joy. Another reason that kept me up nights that is so much more daunting than the hole of infertility.

    I help families adopt now. I grieve for couples who don’t have children or who have lost children or pregnancies. Celebrating mothers in no way is a subtraction from those individuals.

    Pastors it is okay to acknowledge these other women but please allow mothers to stand proud. They deserve it!

  • Belinda

    I agree with the writer 100%. Every Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and 4th of July I am forced to sit through a service where men and women in uniform are paraded around in “honor”. While I have to sit and suffer them. Church does picnics and parties while I can’t bring myself to stand, clap, honor, blow balloons or bring my grand children to the church because they will remind me of their parents lost to an unending war. All rejoicing should stop, all celebrations should stop, all uniforms should stay in the closet, and the church should never engage in clapping for anything ever again. Church should only be quiet, joyless, offended, and only the mourners should attend. I understand, and whole heartily agree with the writer that NO ONE should be honored EVER! She is 100% right and if anyone does not leave the church in protest until their “honoring” ways are changed just as she and others pointed out you are apostate to the word of God. I am never speaking of my children to my grandchildren ever again about their parents and we do not celebrate Mother’s or Father’s Day or military, war, or victory in war celebrations. If these children never find out how disgraceful the church is toward the military or if they never find out that their parents are never coming back I will have been a success! Keep up the great work Amy Young! Well done! I am never going back to church and neither are these babies! She’s on the politically correct trend as she should be because if the church refuses to become politically correct they will always bully and hurt people like me and her! They need to never offend anyone ever again!

  • Katie Mae

    Thank you for this Amy. As a woman who spent the first 10 years of her adulthood raising over 30 girls at a boarding school in Mexico this hits home. There I was my girls “mom”. They were with my 9 1/2 months out of the year. I was seen as a mom over all in the community as well.

    This is my first year back in the States as 30 year old single. God brought me back to the States. My “daughters” are in an another country, 500 miles from me. Few understand the bonds that were built in those years. Because my children are no longer with me no one see me as a mom even though my heart knows otherwise. God has me here for a purpose yet it doesn’t ease the pain completely.

    I also long to be married, to give birth and adopt children of my own yet God doesn’t have that for me at this moment. People tend to look at woman especially women who are late 20s and beyond and think that this is what we want and have intentionally chosen. That we don’t desire to be wives and moms.

    I have a close friend that lost her daughter at 23 weeks. This year that baby will not be in her arms in church.

    So many people have commented here and said so many nasty things. I don’t think the get that acknowledging mothers and father and making a huge deal hurts in the church. It is not fair to compare it to honoring vets, Sunday school teachers, and other things like that. The wounds run much deeper. Will I be celebrating my mom this weekend? Yes, I will but I will also be trying not to live in “the land of if only”.

    I’m not even sure how the church should balance it. Part of me just thinks that a simple “Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there.” should suffice.

    Thank you for this. I feel like breaking down sobbing but thank you for the humility and courage to share this post.

    Blessings on you today!

  • Nicholas

    As a husband of 30 years I relate to this immensely … My wife has Marpans Disease and because of that if she had a child she could bleed to death, also she has a hard time keeping up with life getting tired easily so We have chosen not to have children. It was a personal decision not to adopt either. Because of those decisions she does feel awkward when other women are lifted up as mothers as she sits quietly by and listens, there is no resentment but truly a sadness as she loves children!
    There are many women who because of illness cannot have children but carry a mothers instinct and desires forward without being able to give birth, and many unable to adopt !

    Thank You for recognizing the sensitive nature many women live with alone!
    A Husband with an inside view…

    • breed7

      Do you mind if I ask what Marpans Disease is? I know about a disease called Marfan Syndrome, but I’ve never heard of Marpans Disease. What is it?

  • Lynda

    Having worked in infertility for several years I sympathize with women who will risk everything, including their health, to have a baby. I have no children so I understand not “standing” on Mothers day….However, we have become such a politically correct, feelings on our sleeves, narcissistic society that I just have to say, we need to get over it.
    No one wants to hurt non-moms and everyone I know is sympathetic to those who have problems in this area but not everything is about “me”. Mother’s Day is to honor a group of women who have been blessed and have paid a price to have a family. It’s hard for me because I miss my mom on that day but I look around the room at women from 20 to 90 who are standing and realize what a celebration it is! It’s NOT ABOUT ME!
    Not trying to be hurtful but I am from a generation with a bit thicker skin and it’s a good thing to develop as you grow older…you are going to need it.

  • Brenda

    Hey, I really do appreciate what you are doing, but I as read all the appreciation for all the Mom’s out there, I see one huge group left out….those of us in the middle. I have 2 teeanagers, 1 middle schooler, and 1 elementarty. I don’t have the food stains of the new mom or the empty nester or “soon” to be empty nester. I am in the middle, seeing we stand with the Moms in the middle who are fighting to keep their teens on the straight and narrow. You go Mom’s, you will soon see the fruits of your labor. I am sorry if this seems ungrateful, I really am not trying to be. Thank you for the note and allowing me to express my opinion. Go MOM’s you rock!!!!!

  • HS

    Thank you Lynda! That’s how I feel. Mother’s Day is now offensive? I’m exhausted just trying to keep up with everything that is hurtful or offensive these days. I’m wondering if only affluent people from prosperous nations have time to even think about such things. We must have too much free time if we have to create such “problems”. The world cannot revolve around each individual person. We aren’t going to be happy about every moment of your life. The fact that we can’t deal with that is far more concerning to me. Sigh…

  • Martha

    Not all mothers have children. I for one have always felt like a mom even though I don’t have children. (2 misses and then the timing and partners didn’t work out) but yes, I describe myself as a child-free mom!
    My late mother would always bring me a potted flower plant as well as one for my sister who does have children. I guess it’s all about your attitude towards life. Let the mums have their day!
    AND a bunch of my gal pals and I go out for brunch together to celebrate our late moms!

  • Bob

    I feel the same way on veterans day.

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  • Karen

    Thank you. Have had a hard time going to church being single because so much is centered around families. I went through an event at church that destroyed our SS class–one of the worst things I have ever gone through. Most of my friends are married with children and starting their rounds with grandchildren now. Have lost both of my parents and my only sibling. So events that point out how much you don’t fit in really cut to the core. I feel torn and guilty about not attending church in person–instead listen to the live service on the computer. Which only puts me in a circle of my own more. But it is hard walking into a service alone, sitting alone, leaving alone, going into your house alone when I grew up going out to my grandparents almost every Sunday afternoon, etc. One of my friends had a miscarriage several years ago (had one child at the time) and her mother said well she is getting too old for more children–and here I stood–no husband–no children (and we are the same age)–and then some say to be grateful for what you have–I understand that–but the longing to fit in some place remains–when what your desire was to be a wife and mother and you feel isolated because you aren’t what the church sees as “normal.”

  • breed7

    Here’s the thing. Secular holidays created by Hallmark should NEVER be acknowledged in church. To celebrate Mother’s Day in church is essentially the same thing as bringing in a giant Easter Bunny to distribute eggs on Easter Sunday. It’s not “Christian.”

    All of the things worth celebrating in church — Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Pentecost, etc., are, by their very natures, inclusive. They’re not about some of the church members. They are about the body of Christ.

    Any church that fails to see that is, quite frankly, run by idiots. Which, unfortunately, is most of them.

  • scc

    How each church, family, scool, and establishment chooses to celebrate Mother’s Day is their perogative. Period. If you consider yourself a Christian and walk out of church or don’t attend because you feel hurt or left out watching mothers stand with pride, then you clearly have some open wounds that only God can heal, not a change in tradition. And until you open those wounds to Him for healing you will continue to covet the honor of standing. And to those Christians trying to shame those that don’t agree with you ….. really? They should be the bigger Christian and submit down to your hurt? Why can’t you accept how they are honored? I chose to be childless for 9 yrs of marriage and then chose to have 5 kids. I didnt choose to have a daughter develop cancer and a son be born with down syndrome. Should I request that Easter Sunday egg hunts should halt because my 2 yr old son can’t can’t walk or hold a basket? Or because my 6 yr old daughter can’t be around other children for fear of contracting an illness? Shame on you and I rebuke those petty thoghts. Ladies you must quickly learn that there are sooooo many people in this world with bigger problems than being motherless. Like the mother holding her child’s hand as he takes his last breath. Or the mother whose child was born with congenital defects and/or abnormalities. THANK GOD “YOU” are not the one dealing with that because trust me, it’s not easy. And then maybe tell yourself to stop for a moment, putting your feelings aside and say “wow, being a mom is tough. They deserve to stand in recognition and be applauded at least on day a year”. I know I do. And although my current church doesn’t do the whole standing, flower thing, I’m not going to switch churches just to get an applause. …… and I’m not envious of those that day. Just remember, sometime out there has a heavier cross than you – be grateful.

  • Joanna

    As a woman who loves and honors my mother and my relatives who have children, who never had human children but would have liked to have been a mother, who is also a pastor, I understand this phenomenon from many angles. It is counter-productive for the church to constantly lift up only women who have the ability to physically bear children while treating those who do not as though they are invisible, unwelcome, sub-standard, less valuable or worse. I confess that at times the practices I have witnessed in some so-called worship services have left me cold, angry, and grieving not only for myself but for countless women who don’t fit the stereotype of what makes a woman worthy of honor. Why can’t we honor one another without making square pegs who don’t fit into round holes feel like they have no place in the church?

  • Elee

    Way to take something that isn’t all about you and crapping on it for those for whom the day is meaningful. This is the same kind of thinking that made it so every kid had to leave a birthday party with a gift bag even though it wasn’t their birthday. Nowadays it ‘s impossible for people to simply be happy for other people. If it doesn’t involve us we have to diminish them. If I can’t enjoy it no one can because ultimately my feelings are the only ones that are important. I’m not insenstive to any of the points made, I have hot button issues and jealousies that break my heart too, but I don’t think my pain is a reason to slop other people from their celebrations.

    • Nathan Colquhoun

      Thanks for this post – in leading into mother’s day where we have a small community of a mixed bag of experiences including adoptive parents, infertility and miscarriages – this is a highly sensitive issue and in reflecting the kingdom of God want to be inclusive and sensitive to where everyone is at. To Elee above – it’s not a fair comparison about birthday parties – it would be more accurate for someone who could not ever have a birthday party to feel isolated at someone else’s birthday parties. Infertility is a bit different than just not getting your own way once in a while.

      We’ll be reading this prayer together in our community. Thanks again.

  • Crystal

    I disagree with this woman. It is NOT dehumanizing. At my Mom’s church, the pastor always has any woman who has ever been pregnant stand…even if her children were lost before birth. Foster and adoptive moms are also welcome to stand.

    It is not a way to humiliate those who don’t have children, but honor those who do. Those who’ve spent their lives sacrificing for others and always putting herself last. I don’t believe any mother should not be allowed to stand for fear of upsetting those who aren’t mothers. For some, not having children is a choice. Why would you be ashamed of that? I agree with having the Mom’s stand. One of the churches I went to when I was little always had carnation corsages for all the moms. There is nothing wrong with allowing those women to walk or stand with pride because they have children.

    With this mentality, she is asking that us mothers should be ashamed of having children…hiding it for fear of offending someone who doesn’t have children. She is wrong for asking that.

    Women who do not have children do have moms and grandmothers. They should feel happy for those ladies when they are asked to stand on Mother’s Day. They’ve spent their lives caring for others before themselves. That’s what Mother’s Day is supposed to do…celebrate those women.

    I feel bad for those who don’t have children not by choice, but because they can’t or because of circumstance. But those women, too, have moms. They should be happy for them. In my opinion, those women who feel the way this lady does is guilty of envy. We shouldn’t envy others, yet these women do. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t feel this way.

    That’s just how I feel about this. Yes. I’m a mother of two teenagers. My older teen graduates high school in two weeks. I’m proud of my children. My being recognized one day a year isn’t too much to ask for all that I’ve done for them. I don’t need it, but I don’t think it should be taken away, either.

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    Amy, I’m talking about my thoughts on Motherhood today and how hard it was to not have my own children. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in church and cringed, cried or just wanted to disappear because I felt less than because I was not able to have a baby. I know pastors mean well, but it was crushing to my spirit. Thank you for saying what I’m sure so many of us have felt.

    Even now, having a daughter by marriage, I feel like I don’t completely measure up to God’s call in some sermons. We don’t need to give birth to children to have a purpose, as you said. God calls women for many other purposes. Blessings to you.

  • Andy

    Thank you very much, Amy, for your helpful and honest prayer. Well-timed support, and reflective reminder, for those of us in pulpit.

  • Deena

    I am lucky. My husband is a pastor and we are childless, so he KNOWS to be sensitive to these issues. Rather than calling out mothers and leaving the rest of us feeling low (the church I grew up in did the standing thing), he honors all women who care for children in any capacity, whether as mother, aunt, close family friend, teacher, nurse, human, etc. This is very inclusive and humanizing to those of us for whom motherhood was not a choice we were able to make due to any reason.

  • Peter

    The traditions of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day really don’t have a place in corporate worship. As a father myself, I am celebrated every time I pull into my drive and my daughter comes running out to greet me. I don’t need to have the attention of those who have come to worship the living God turned to me for a few moments of applause that really belong to Him.

    Honoring mothers and fathers during worship confuses the direction of our devotion. Each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus–the object of our devotion and worship. Honoring any subgroup in the body of worshipers is contrary to Paul’s exhortation to not elevate one over the other. This holiday (invented by Hallmark to market cards, by the way and not found in any worship book or hymnal until recently) feeds into the American Church’s idolatry of the nuclear family. Look around you at church. Every woman there has taken a vow, either at your child’s baptism or dedication, depending on your tradition, to help raise the child in Christ. Every man there has done the same. In this regard, we are all mothers and fathers of the children given to us as a congregation. Jesus himself when informed that his mother was asking for him replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Matt 12:48-49).

    To those who say we shouldn’t stop honoring mothers in corporate worship just to protect the feelings of those who are without children or who have lost children (a wholly condescending remark, by the way), I would reply: Should we continue to honor mothers in corporate worship just to bolster the feelings of those who do have children? We only assemble once a week for a few hours at the most to worship the living God. Let’s seize every second of that time to do just that. Honor God and not men.

  • Jon Kinzle

    I am a father, I worked as a youth minister for many years, 13 and a half full time and now just fill the pulpit occasionally when needed. I am on Sunday for a pastor who lost his father and is out of town and really appreciate your perspective and it will help me not to offend anyone on Mother’s Day, Thanks

  • Christine

    I realize church can do things in an awkward way at times, but as a mom I look forward to Mother’s Day at church. The men make a nice breakfast before church and all the women sit and are served. It’s more like a day for women in general that day. Although they do have the moms stand and get a gift. I never realized how challenging parenting would be until I had kids. And so often in society, women are looked down on and expected to do so much and it’s often a “thankless job.” For example, a mom is expected to keep a clean house, take care of the baby and the older kids’ school work, cook healthy meals and all the other demands of this day and age plus work outside the home. In general, most people just expect men to go to work and come home and watch football. The home is seen as the mother’s job. Even when dads help out around the house sometimes it’s not the same they don’t do as much as the mom does. If anything goes wrong with a kid, people blame the mother. Mothers are so overlooked and judged constantly for not parenting the way someone else sees fit. Kids are demanding and don’t always appreciate what their mothers do. Husbands don’t always notice all the things their wives do. It’s so important to have a day to remind the kids do respect and appreciate moms. We all have unique trials in this life. I have never had an easy life. And I really wish sometimes I could do all the things my friends can do. Try to celebrate the joy of others rather than be bitter about it. Your pastor is just trying to bless the moms. If it’s too much for you, then don’t go that day. But don’t try to change it at church for everyone just b/c it makes you uncomfortable.

  • Melissa Cash

    I am not going to have a judgmental attitude about this. I was married young and a fertile myrtle..so I have never been in the place of not able to produce offspring. However, I can sympathize with the women who are trying really hard to have kids, or wanting to be married and have kids and it hasn’t happened yet. I have friends that are going through this. On the other hand, I don’t feel like Mother’s Day should not include honoring moms because if it weren’t for a mom, non of us would be here. If I was a woman who didn’t have a child, I would stand in my mother’s honor if my Pastor asked for all moms to stand. I would stand even if I had a miscarriage, and if other’s asked me why I stood, I would tell them, because I am a Mom.

  • Carol

    Perhaps ask each person born to a mother to stand in honor of that mother. Everyone has one.

  • Christine

    Also, can I have one day to stand and be proud of being a mom out of the 364 days I get little to no breaks? I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom alone or didn’t have a pile of food stained laundry or dishes to take care of. I can’t remember the last time I got a full nights sleep b/c my son has a sleeping disorder and wakes me up multiple times a night. I’ve been sick with colds literally every month since the 2 years of his birth. I can’t have 5 minutes to sit or talk without being interrupted. My “vacations” consist of laundry, diapering, cleaning and holding the baby at the beach and keeping him from eating sand and bugs. I don’t go more than probably an hour without breaking up a fight or a night without watching my son struggle with his schoolwork that continues to get more and more demanding. I can’t go out to dinner and look at the menu without my baby crying. I struggle to shop or do anything b/c my baby gets bored quickly. I can’t imagine being able to read a book or travel. I miss the days of being able to go on missions trips. The mental toll of being a parent is even harder than the physical. You’re afraid your baby will get the flu or a deadly disease from a tick, or you’re afraid your teen will start doing drugs or having sex or get into a car crash. You’re afraid they won’t accept the Lord and go to heaven. It’s relentless worrying and stress. I love my kids and wouldn’t give them up for anything, but omg is it hard. Sometimes I go in the other room to cry so they won’t worry I’m stressed. Let me have one day to celebrate without having to feel guilty. I already feel guilty any time I have to go to work and leave the kids.

    • Anon

      An enlightening post indeed! Thank you for that and all you do. Please note, the blog writer didn’t say not to celebrate mother’s.

  • Darryl Hill

    I guess I’m torn about this article. I do wonder whether or not Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Veterans Day, and etc. belong in corporate worship in the first place. I will say this: we are told to honor our father and mother, so perhaps there is obviously a place for this. It may belong somewhere other than the primary worship gathering of the local church, though.

    But I will say this as well- the premise behind this letter is that any woman excluded from being recognized on mother’s day feels less than a woman or like a failure or as not worthy of any kind of honor and that the answer to that is to not have any mom stand up. That does come across to me as so typical of our politically correct culture today. We can’t honor anyone without honoring everyone. It seems very selfish. By definition, a special honor is given to a particular group of people. Why not just be happy for God’s grace in their lives and give glory to God?

    Now, one thing has become clear from reading many of these comments (I didn’t read them all because I think it would have taken several hours), something needs to be done to address the ladies who are obviously hurting very badly and have significant issues with feelings of inadequacy and great pain in dealing with being unable, for whatever reason, to be a mom. I will add this as well, if a lady has been pregnant, she’s a mom in my eyes. A miscarriage doesn’t take away the fact that a child was alive there. If we believe life begins at conception, then that lady is a mom. And if a lady has lost her children to death, she’s a mom. If she’s a foster parent, she is still a mom. Perhaps that could be clarified to help the situation. These are all moms.

    Having said all of that, we are to rejoice with those who rejoice. Motherhood should be celebrated because it is such a beautiful, God-ordained thing. Be happy for them. Stop being so concerned about yourself. If the celebration is being done properly, we’re really not celebrating a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a baby to term, but we are giving glory to God for the blessing of having a mom and we are thanking God for allowing ladies in our congregation to privilege of being a mom. It’s all a gift from God. It’s not their ability we’re celebrating. And none of us would be here without mom. We should thank God for them. But if we’re not careful, with the line of thinking presented here, we may end up taking every Sunday of the year to honor every person with every specific circumstance imaginable. The list could be endless. For example: Today we honor the men who wanted to enlist in the military but had a condition that prevented it. Today we honor the men who wanted to be dads but have a low sperm count. Today we honor the men who were too young for Vietnam but too old for Desert Storm.

    Bottom line, I think we can do our best to include as many ladies as possible by explaining how we define being a mom, but in the end, someone is going to be left out. Either that person decides it’s ok to honor others or they get upset. I don’t see any way around it.

  • Herr Borg

    This is the problem with this current crop of Christians. Their rallying cry is “It’s all about ME!” Heaven forbid someone have something I do not.

    Do they expect a certificate at someone else’s Baptism or confirmation? Do they demand a ring at someone else’s wedding?

    It’s all about me, and heaven help the slob that refuses to recognize my greatness and points out that someone else has something I want.

    • Renee

      But the “It’s all about me” is the message the article has. The idea is that no one should be recognized because it makes the author feel bad.

  • Amy Redman

    As a woman who struggled with contentment in singleness for years before finding that I am “complete” in Christ, and now a married woman who would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a child, but barring a miracle will never do so, I have to say that this article does NOT represent all of us.

    When I was single, I never asked that Valentine’s Day not be celebrated so publicly because I didn’t have what others were celebrating. I chose to rejoice with those who were rejoicing and “celebrate” Valentines Day by babysitting for a busy couple with a large family so that they could celebrate.

    As a married yet childless woman, I look forward to celebrating with my friends and family the blessings that God has bestowed on them. It’s not about me. IF The Lord should choose to work a miracle and make me a mother, I will celebrate and rejoice with others on Mother’s Day and say “Behold what marvelous things God has done.” God doesn’t “owe” me anything, and I REFUSE to make others feel guilty for the fact that God blessed them with children.

  • Rod Simmons

    Interesting perspective.While honoring moms without alienating those women without children is at times hard. Especially if those women without are extremely sensitive to that fact due to the loss of one or more children. But the ones who really get lost and are in complete alienation in all of the honoring and uplifting and making a big deal about mom’s are those children who have lost their mom. Especially the young kids. For weeks those kids are subjected to commercials about mom, schools doing “projects” for Mother’s Day, churches and pastors reminding everyone about the “big Sunday celebration”, and their friends getting excite about what they are getting mom or where they are going to celebrate her. But the kids who have lost their mom wake up, go throughout the day, and go to bed every day without their mom. It can be too much and extremely sad for some of those kids. If we are gonna get all sentimental about Mother’s Day then lets do it with a little compassion and understanding for those who are not mothers and also for those who have lost their mother, especially if they are children. Maybe a little less hoopla and not treating it like it’s the greatest day on the calendar save for Easter.

  • Tal

    I’m sorry, but this is as ridiculous as those people who demand restaurants not post meat advertisements because it goes against their lifestyle.

    You aren’t a mother. Why would you feel humiliated? Do you get humiliated when fathers get honored on father’s day? No, you know why, because you aren’t a father. This whole topic is just silly.

  • Cindy

    Crying as I read the comments as I am a woman without a husband and am childless. Thank you for expressing the pain yet the joy for others on Mothers Day. I too do not feel that the church should ask Mothers to stand up. It is hurtful enough just to know that you can never have children or grand kids, let alone have to be reminded of it and all of the circumstances that go with being childless as everyone has their own story. I’m happy for my friends that are Mothers but their families can acknowledge their “Motherhood”. I do not in any way think this makes others feel guilty for being a Mother at all. Yes it is a blessing to have children and grand kids, that does not make the pain of not being able to ever share in that a blessing any less painful no matter if it is God’s will or not. Everyone deals with this in their own way, some women are very strong in their acknowledgement of being childless the rest of their lives while some have a daily struggle. I for one was made childless from CANCER so no I do not agree at all with you Amy Redman, but that is what the comment section is for is to be able to voice your own opinion and disagree with others. How about looking at it another way, is it ok for the Church to make us that can not have children but so desperately want them, feel ” guilty” or like an empty piece of nothing because we are not a “vital” part of our growing congregation? We can not add to the congregation because we are “barren”. Yes it is God’s will, no disagreement there, but we should not have to be reminded that we are not the fortunate ones that can bear children. .

  • Mamacat

    As a woman who has been on both sides of this, I just have to say that you have no idea how difficult it is to be a parent and what an enormous job it is to be a mother. I pined, pleaded, begged for a child for years and years!!!! I know the heartache, the struggle, the animosity I wrongly felt, and the feeling of not getting a rose at Mothers’ Day Service. I would’ve practically, but NOT really, sold my soul for a child. And, finally in my very late 30s was able to create a family of two kids and two parents. And, motherhood is the greatest challenge I have ever faced in my life, disease and other issues not even coming close. I’m sorry you’re upset by people honoring mothers on Mothers’ Day, but that’s more to do with you than it is to do with the mothers. Figure out a way to get it done and do it. My good friend just adopted a foster child, and she is the happiest mom—yes, incredible struggles, but don’t we all??? Is it not fair to not honor the hardest job in the world just because it makes you feel uncomfortable? I’m sorry. I’m sorry you don’t have dad and 2.4 kids. (Really never sure about that 0.4 kid, but what-ev!) As a woman who has walked in your shoes, I must tell you honestly and with Christian love, you need to figure out a way to make your dreams happen and not take them from someone else. Get creative, not vindictive. Go out and do God’s will in your life! You think HE, the Creator of the Universe, the Almighty God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, doesn’t want the best for YOU?!?!? Stop pining about what you don’t have, and trying to take righteous recognition from your fellow sisters, and start making things happen in your own life! Go do it, Girl! I love you, and God loves you more, and HE will help you!!! Take that first step. It may not look like you think it should, but it will look like God wants it to look. May God bless you and hold you and guide you!!!! Love in Christ, always, Mamacat.

  • Kathy PJ

    Wow, what a great article that puts into words the many feelings I have had over the years as a woman who has never had the opportunity to have children. I’ll never forget my mother saying that standing at the front of the church was downright painful for her because she said looking into the hurt eyes of all the women sitting was brutal. I avoid church on Mother’s day like the plague and have had many hurtful experiences on the day so I just don’t bother now. It’s really not worth it. Those who say people are just being selfish don’t know a THING about it and if they were in the same situation, they would likely feel the same way. They are also the reason many women like myself avoid Mother’s Day because of their insensitivity and martyrdom. Being motherly and having a mother’s heart is something that is built into most women whether they are an actual mother or not. So, it’s not something you can put away easily…it’s a DEEP disappointment and part of who we are as women. The bottom line is that Mother’s Day is a very painful day for many women and it’s not just those who don’t have kids either. The church has turned Mother’s Day into worship of mothers instead of honoring them. No one is saying mothers don’t deserve it, but if you look at the history of Mother’s Day, you will see that the original intent was nothing like what it is today. The woman who started the whole thing tried to get it stopped because her original intent was for people to honor their own mothers by wearing a flower and didn’t like how it turned into a commercial extravaganza. So, if your church has people wear flowers they are staying true to the original tradition. I’ve rarely been able to be with my mother on Mother’s Day because I live in a different city and now that she has passed away, it’s even harder for me. I respect women who are mothers but I hope they also feel the same way toward me. Is there a day to honor single people for staying pure and living as Godly Christian women?! It’s always going to be presenting a tier system that some women are better than others, or are somehow more complete. You hear people say that God has trusted them with children…a term that greatly offends me because are they saying the Lord didn’t trust the rest of us? Of course not…the Lord just entrusts us with different things. I have been fortunate to have an occupation that allows me to use my motherly gifts and yes I’ve even had to do toilet training. The Lord has used me with those kids…I know that. Those who have had a miscarriage are STILL MOTHERS…it’s just that their baby died. Until the church realizes that, Mother’s Day will not be all that constructive. It’s kind of like being in school and never quite being able to figure out the answer. Take care all and thanks for sharing your stories.

  • amber

    I understand all side of this “debate” so to speak…i spent 3 years sitting down and feeling depressed after having 6 miscarriages and 1 stillborn but definitely st the same time felt joy for the mothers and appreciated the prayers and love that they received….then finally in 2013 after a shot everyday in the stomach for 9 months, 13 pills a day, and a surgery at 18 weeks I had a healthy little girl at 36 weeks…and I appreciate finally being able to stand…why should that be taken from me?

    • Anon

      Congratulations. It is great that things worked out in the end in terms of your desires to have children.

      I start a new paragraph to say that it is not so for everyone, even if they went through what you did or even more. (There is always someone who went through more than 99.9%of us.

      I didntdidnt see’t the idea that standing up to be acknowledged should be taken from you anywhere.

      However, the commandment asks for Children to honour parents, not congregations really. Also, I am one of those who thinks it should be taken from everyone. I also dislike Church sports teams being acknowledged during the service. It’s nothing to do with anything. It’s all about Christ.

  • Sue

    One thing was left out, those that are happily single & don’t want kids. Yeah I said it, we exist, women that don’t want children. Heck, don’t want to marry or have kids. I just roll my eye sometimes when people assume just because you’re single, without kids, your life long desire is too marry. nope, marriage isn’t for everyone & some wisely figure out they don’t want to marry or have children (instead of having children when they are lukewarm about the decision). Seriously think a lot of women fall into the very false belief you need to be married or have children too be happy, it is one of the biggest lies the world & Christianity has sold us. Oh & hate mothers day at church, because you are made to feel like an outcast for your choices or for things you have no control over. Hate it & rarely go to church on mothers day.

  • joy

    Many of the commenters have mentioned the same things I wanted to mention, but I decided to add my two cents anyway. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone. I am a middle aged single woman who is coming to terms with the fact that I will probably never be a mother. I also lost my own mother a few years ago. God is not surprised at this reality of my life, and I know His desire is for me to draw closer to Him in the life He has given me. However, there is still pain. I have to confess covetousness sometimes toward young married couples and young parents; that is sin that I know I have to bring to God to be redeemed. Particularly as a single person, I just sometimes feel misunderstood and overlooked by the rest of a church that puts a lot of emphasis on a part of life i may never get to experience.
    The point I took from this article was the author’s desire for people to realize the pain those around them experience. A lot of people responded “it isn’t all about you”. Well, we would all do well to take that advice (whether we are mothers or not). As believers, even if we are the ones being honored, it isn’t supposed to be about us. We are all supposed to consider others as more important than ourselves, and we are supposed to seek God’s glory over our own. My church typically makes Mother’s Day one of our Parent Dedication Sundays (we have a few a year because of the size of our church.). On those days we pray for the parents and their babies and make a commitment as a church body to support the parents in raising Godly children. I can be a part of helping with their children by praying for them as well as by teaching Sunday School (or leading a discipleship group, keeping the nursery, etc)
    I was going to make a comment about the “achievement” thing mentioned above, but my comment came out a little snarky. I will suffice it to say, graduation and military service are things most anyone can pursue. Parenthood is not something just anyone can work to “achieve”.
    i really like the second part of the above letter that reminds us of the multiple mothering situations to support. In the past few months within the same new social circle, I have met two women in opposing situations. One is a single young woman who has recently started fostering children; the other is a middle aged woman struggling with fertility issues. I pray that i can support both of them as i can share a little in each of their life situations. God asks us to rejoice with those who rejoice but also to be ready to comfort others with the same comfort which we have received.
    I pray this article will remind me to seek ways to support the women I know who are trying to raise Godly children as well as to support my friends who share the same struggle I do.
    I know this could have been more developed, but I hope I was able to get some points across.

  • SM

    So much has already been said. I just wanted to echo the words of Hanes June 5, 2014 above:

    “Mothers Day is a day to honor your OWN mother, not demand the admiration of others. Why not invite
    EVERYONE, male or female, parent or not, to stand in honor and memory of the motherly figures in their lives? …I’m horrified…at the comments here by those who feel that their own need for attention is more important than the pain it causes others. And the irony is that some them called YOU selfish. What a stunning and ironic blend of self-involvement and lack of self-awareness.”

    Thank you to all those who weighed in on the goodness of recognizing that there is pain too in this life and honouring it in the midst of honouring the joys. I personally (as a mother) feel uncomfortable for my infertile and single friends when I am asked to stand or given a gift on Mother’s Day…simply because I feel no need to be honoured publicly for my joys. If I had to choose, I would rather honour my friends in their struggle instead. Otherwise, I would sure love to be at a church gathering that attempted to do both—as this article’s prayer does. Thank you to the author and all those who are reposting this. It is a long-overdue dialogue.

  • Jane

    I don’t get the standing up thing to start off. It doesn’t make me feel special as a mother. I stand up and get a flower and then what? I don’t need a flower or to stand up in church, everyone already knows I’m a parent in church. I don’t really feel that you appreciate me just because you ask me to stand up. You know what helps me as a mother? Someone actually helping me.

    Standing up in church makes me feel awkward. I am a stay at home mom… people who work look down on me. Why did I give up getting my PhD to stay home with my kids? Why don’t I work outside the home? I struggle every day with the idea that what I am doing is not very important. People say that parenting is the most important thing in the world, but cleaning up poo and messes and playing the peacemaker to screaming kids does not always feel like I am contributing to society. I know in theory that it is important, but that doesn’t always translate over into the day to day grind of how I FEEL.

    But at the end of the day, if people want to stand up and get a flower, if that makes them feel good, let them do it. It may pain me, it may make ME feel inferior to stand up and say, “look at me I gave up what I wanted in life’ to have kids,” in a world that says you are only important if you work and have a thriving social life. (and please don’t misunderstand me, I love my kids and I wouldn’t trade them for anything). But I need to grow up too. Motherhood is a trial, that is what makes it a blessing. It helps us grow because it is HARD. If going to church brings out some unhealed pain from our past, embrace that pain, it is how we grow. I grow being embarrassed. I cannot control other people’s insensitivity towards me. But I can control my reaction to it. I can embrace the cross that I am given. I want to be sensitive to others and loving. I am not always… but personally, if I avoid everything that is painful, I’m running away from growth.

    On the other side of this, I wouldn’t want to intentionally hurt anyone. I guess I look at Mothers’ Day as a time to appreciate anyone who has been a motherly figure to me. Everyone has a mother even if you are not a mother. This is not a day about me, or about being a great mom, because I am not a great mom… I am a fallen, broken mom. For me it is a day to celebrate those ladies in my life who have offered me what my own mother couldn’t, unconditional love and acceptance.

    When someone does something that hurts me, I try to evaluate whether they were intentionally trying to hurt me or if they had good intentions but it didn’t come across right. If I think they had good intentions, I try to offer them the grace that I would want. If it is intentional, I decide to treat them as an enemy (love them unconditionally – expecting no good thing from them, but offering them lots of love anyways).

  • Jane

    One more thing, just because you don’t have a child doesn’t mean you can’t offer unconditional love to another human as a surrogate mom. There are plenty of kids who come from dysfunctional families that need people who have time and energy to love them and to follow through. They need mentoring, they need someone who can take an interest in their lives, because their mom may not be able to do that for whatever reason. You can be a ‘mother’ to those kids. God sometimes call us through our deepest unmet desires to be that missing part in our own lives for someone else. I personally don’t have parents. I long for mature, older people in my life to become that for me. It is a gaping hole in my life, but I can offer that to others who also don’t have it. Our pain can become a source of healing for others.

  • April

    it’a Mother’s Day. Not Secretary’s day, Not National Business Women’s day, Not Sibling Appreciation day….you see? What if you are an only child? Should we not have Sibling Appreciation Day because many do not have siblings? Teacher Appreciation Day, I wanted to be a teacher, but it didn’t happen. It wasn’t possible for me to go to college, or to be a teacher , so should they do away with that too? I guess that teacher appreciation day sure makes the janitors and or cooks feel bad, unappreciated and left out. Pastor appreciation day….what about the piano player, song leader, choir, pew warmers? We don’t appreciated them? So you see, life just cannot be equal and fair and warm and fuzzy all the time. Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. I am sorry for those of you who do not, cannot, will not have children. But it Mother’s Day, I will rejoice for and with the mother’s and I will also say a prayer for those who aren’t that wanted to be. Happy Mother’s Day !

    • Anon

      Its true that rejoicing with others is scriptural but the Bible does not say anywhere that it should involve standing whilst in the congregation at Church. The rejoicing and mourning seems to be about individuals experiencing the ups and downs of life, not mothers standing up every year because they were able to give birth, which is still the way most people do it. Some are rejoicing whilst others are weeping. We cannot join with both at the same time. One aspect will be ignored and the other acknowledged. It is impossible. Therefore, the moment needs to include everyone if we are to fulfil the scripture about mourning and rejoicing together in this case . Families and children are already usually seen as the be all and end all by those who have them. If they don’t, they will probably forget addressing childless people at all. If anything, other experiences should be given more time to redress the balance and make sure vital ministry actually takes place. Otherwise, what is the point of Church?

  • Khg

    After reading some of these comments I understand why many people would never step foot in a church. The mixed feelings crowd who are fine with ignoring the pain that women who have lost a child are who are struggling with the devastation of infertility makes me sad. I happen to have children and don’t need to stand in a church or get a rose to feel honored. There have been repeated comments from women who feel shame and humiliation from the practices of churches on Mother’s Day and basically you say oh well it’s MY DAY and they need to deal with it. So on this Mother’s Day I SIT with my sisters who are struggling through a very painful day.

  • Kimble Genis

    Thank you so much for this. After loosing so many lil ones, i feel like i am not worthy of celebrating Mother’s day. I feel useless. This made me somewhat tear up, but in a good way. reminded me that i am still worthy of being celebrated.

  • Mallory

    I agree with most of Sue’s sentiments. This article is fine; I like the idea of being inclusive for women who have struggled. But the only point of view in this article is either you’re a woman that has had children, or a woman that wants to have children. The article is written as if *everyone* must want to have kids, and that is simply not true.

    And on the flip side: I know several people who are products of parents that never should have had kids. One mom in particular was probably swept up in the idea that everyone should have children, and was too selfish to think about if she wanted to take the time to be a good parent. She ended up having several kids that grew up to be mal-adjusted adults. It’s a shame that we pressure people into having children, without thinking about the consequences of being an unwanted child.

  • Judy Woolfolk

    Having suffered years of infertility, 3 miscarriages, the blessing of 2 boys and a girl, the death of our oldest son at age 17(2004) just 18 months after the death of my mother, I can so RELATE to this article!! I feel the heartache for those who long for motherhood, share the joy and responsibility with those who are mothers, know the intense grief of mothers who have lost (whether though miscarriage, stillbirth, tragedy or illness), and those who have lost their own dear mothers. I have such mixed feelings on Mother’s Day. When going through infertility and loss, my husband and I did not go to church that day, usually we would go out of town. Now, we don’t avoid Mother’s Day but we are aware of how hard it is for so many women that we love and try to be sensitive to them. A suggestion to churches, if you give out flowers, give them to all women who enter the door, not asking if they are a mother. Through this we celebrate moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and especially women who mentor our precious children!!! I would say all women fall into one of those categories!! Blessings and joy to my sisters in Christ as we serve Him by loving others!!

  • Kim W

    If I may, I’d like to add one last point to the roll call of mothers in point 2:

    “To those who have CHOSEN to be childless in their own lives, because they’ve chosen instead to help ‘mother’ countless other children by being pediatricians, teachers, family and child-rights lawyers, librarians, policewomen, firefighters, farmers, or any other profession which touches the life of any child – we respect your decision and we are grateful for your support.”

  • Rach

    I’ve never felt uncomfortable on Mother’s Day, but I am nearing 2 years of marriage and I’m still unsure if I want kids. As I deal with the ever increasing pressure of reconciling my husband’s desire to have kids with my own lack of a clear word on them I also deal with the frequent inquiries of when I’m having kids or if I have them at all from strangers. As time continues to pass I expect this holiday to become more awkward, as it highlights the struggle of not wanting to bring a child I don’t want into the world but not wanting to disappoint my husband.

  • Anonymous

    Although I understand how she feels and why. This sounds to me like the parents that want every player to get a trophy. Does she feel the same, when veterans are asked to stand? How about Catechetical Sunday? God has a plan for all of us, our lives speak of that plan. We should be able to honor all those around us that have experienced or accomplished what we haven’t, without feeling that we have been cheated.

  • Kristine

    Thank you for posting this! I feel awkward and a little sad on Mother’s Day, because, although I AM a mother, it’s not to any live children. I am thirty-one years old and in my lifetime have had six miscarriages and one stillbirth. Kailey Nicole was the closest I came to having a child, and she was delivered at thirty weeks into the pregnancy, having perished. Mother’s Day is difficult for me, and not just at church. I went to a supermarket one year and as the cashier was bagging my groceries, she asked, “Do you have children?” I hesitated before answering, because I knew it was a yes, but if I said that, it would go into a long and painful conversation I didn’t want to have. Still, I felt a need to acknowledge even Kailey. “Yes,” I said. “Oh! How many? How old are they?” “Just the one, Kailey, and she would be five years old this year, but she passed away.” I felt sorry for the cashier, because I know she thought she had said something wrong. I wished there was some way to tell her it felt good to acknowledge Kailey to another person. God knows that I am always thinking of her.

    After losing Kailey, I avoided Mother’s Day. I did not attend church services, I did not answer my phone, I even apologized to my mother because it was far too difficult to acknowledge Mother’s Day in the early years of having lost my daughter. If it was being selfish, well, I accept that. But I can’t deny how much it hurt. There were four times of the year that hurt the most: Mother’s Day, the day she was actually born, her due date, and Christmas. This year, though, I am doing things a little bit differently. This year, I am still not going to the Mother’s Day church service, but I am instead making up for those few years when my mom missed out on a, “Happy Mother’s Day” from me. But you know? She’s never been angry with me for it. Though you should have seen the way her eyes lit up when I told her I wanted to take her out for breakfast on Mother’s Day.

    It’s still hard, yes. Unless you’ve experienced this particular loss, you can’t truly understand it. The loss of a child is heartwrenching, no matter how it occurs. So instead of calling those of us who know this loss, this inadequacy, “selfish”, why not try to be kind and compassionate? That’s what Christ would have done. Instead of telling us we’re wrong to grieve in such a fashion, He would fold us in His gentle embrace and show us that He still cares, and that He understands that we suffer. Faith in Christ, church, being Christian – it’s all about compassion, about loving everyone around you. So yes, that means caring how what you say or do might affect another person. It’s why we hold our tongues, and it’s why we choose to honor everyone for their path in life.

    Thank you again, Amy, for this refreshing letter. God bless.

  • denise williams

    These rude comments from these women, who are obviously mothers, who have never felt the pain and disappointment of loss and infertility, who are parenting their children to be mean and to not have empathy and compassionate for others, is exactly the reason why I Do not go to church!!!

  • Cynthia

    To me, we’re not recognizing women for their ability or not to get pregnant. We’re celebrating the importance, awesome responsibility and, many times, difficulty, of raising children. We’re acknowledging the sacrifice. It isn’t meant to be a Sunday morning biology contest. It’s about mothering and relationship. Just because someone can get pregnant doesn’t make them a mother.

    Adoptive, foster, neighbor… there are all kinds of mothers. And if a woman can’t have biological children, yes, there are options so that she, too, can share in motherhood. If she chooses, It IS something over which a woman has control.

    I don’t want to be put in a position of having to apologize for being recognized that I raised three boys and a girl, even if I have an atheist son who rarely connects and another son who thinks his gay dad is going to hell. We all have our crosses to bare.

  • Momto2

    I definitely see both perspectives. I was a stepmom before I had my own child. I experienced many moments of not being recognized on Mother’s Day and truthfully, I was perfectly okay with that. I learned something recently at a church event that I’m really trying to apply to all areas of my life. We learned to take off the “It’s all about me” t-shirt. Granted it’s not an easy one to follow, but I’m working on it. The thought process is: It’s not all about me, it’s all about God. Keeping in mind that God has a pre-determined plan for all of us, keeping in mind that God is very well aware of all we have done and are going to do in life, keeping in mind that Gods plan is bigger than anything we could ever imagine.

    As a mother, my son is my world. I look forward to Mother’s Day because it’s a day where I’m recognized for the fact that God has placed my son in my life for a reason. He chose me to give birth to THIS boy. I was also a team mom on my football team. So even if I had never given birth, I was “Mom” to 17 little boys. Doing all the duties of a Mom on the sidelines. I volunteer at church, and while those aren’t my children, I play “Mom” for 2 hours every weekend. I cuddle with your babies, I change diapers, I sing to them, I pray over them, and I cherish the moments where God has placed me.

    I am by no means diminishing how other people feel when put in difficult situations. I pray for people who struggle with issues listed above on a daily basis. But, for a moment, as they stated at the conference I attended, take off the ‘all about me’ t-shirt and give the Mom’s a moment to stand proudly. There are people who have overcome so much. Parents who have adopted children and are FINALLY a forever and permanent family. Let that Mom stand. Parents who haven’t been able to conceive a child for years and FINALLY have been blessed with their first baby. Let that Mom stand. To me, these moments, victories for some, are to be celebrated. Not hidden out of fear it may hurt another person. And I truly believe that anything done to celebrate a mother, is done so with love. It’s not done with the intention to hurt another.

    I speak what’s on my heart and I do so with LOVE. I have no negative tone in what I say so please, I can only pray that I don’t offend any person who reads. Prayers for each and every woman in this world. For all the challenges we each have to endure, for the divide that I sometimes feel WE create on our own, we are all God’s children and we should all love each other as we are. I pray for you each and every one of you! May God continue to bless you…

  • Lorena

    I’ve never understood why the Christian church embraces ANY Hallmark holiday. We are commanded to honor OUR mothers and OUR fathers as a lifestyle, not ALL mothers and ALL fathers one Sunday a year each.

  • Denice

    As the women’s minister in my church, I struggle with this same sentiment every year. I have 5 children and 8 grandchildren, however, I have many friends who for various reasons do not have children and I want to be sensitive to that. While I love that we applaud the hard and sacrificial work of motherhood, I also want to applaud the decision and/or circumstance that have left women without children. I will be reading this to my church this Sunday morning. Thank you for the enlightenment.

  • DavidO

    While I appreciate the sentiment here, it cannot be anything more than a selfish endeavor. Once again someone wants to diminish others in order to elevate themselves. To recognize mothers can only serve to alienate those who think only of themselves. You should be more concerned with how God views you than whatever self-involved speculation of how others are viewing you. The thoughts are, and should be with Mothers during that fleeting moment, not on those who are not Mothers. Self pity does not deserve others’ pity.

  • RM

    I have mixed feelings about this too. I’m a mother, I’ve lost my mother, my sister in law lost my niece at a few weeks old, my best friend lost 2 of her boys to a drunk driver at 11 and 12 years old and I have a dear friend who is still trying. So I am familiar with all the pains of motherhood and hoping to be a mother. We all have different paths. The bible evens talks about the women who couldn’t bear children and the pain they went through. But Mothers should not feel bad for being honored. This article seems like its saying you should feel bad if you stand and are honored because there’s women who can’t be honored. The women who say they feel dehumanized or failures or ostracized have put that on themselves. Who does God say you are? Has God not made you perfect? Does God not know what He’s doing? Rejoice with those who are blessed to be Mothers just like you would want others to rejoice with you in all your blessings. A Mother is a Mother whether biologically, spiritually, or any other way. If you miscarried, you are still a Mother, if you lost a child, you are still a Mother, if you have God Children, you are a Mother, if you have helped other children, You are a Mother. So do stand, nothing should be awkward. I have so many Mother figures in my life, that when I lost my Mother I was able to get through it. I have several Aunts who were like Mothers to me, I have my God Mother who is like a Mother to me, My Sister who is like a Mother to me, My Mother-in-Law who is a Mother to me, my neighbor who is 70 and never had children who is like a Mother to me and a Grandmother to my kids. These feelings and emotions are something you should be taking to God to help you heal and find peace and contentment with Him. Asking your Pastor to no longer acknowledge Mothers because of your hurt feelings is not the right way to handle these deeply rooted wounds. We all have wounds and we all have pain and disappointment and it’s those things that should draw us closer to God. The churches who do this, do this out of love and respect for Mothers, not to intentionally ostracize those who aren’t Mothers. We honor our military members and veterans, should I feel bad for standing to be recognized when I know there are others who wanted to serve but forever reason couldn’t? No. And it’s not something everyone can pursue, ask several of my diabetic or epileptic friends who desire to serve so badly but can’t due to their physical problems out of their control. I do feel and do pray for those who struggle with all of these issues. Like I said, I have experienced a few of these things myself and have walked with friends who have suffered tragic events. I was once told I could never have children and I planned my life accordingly. Then one miraculous day I ended up pregnant and it changed my life drastically. I had to come to terms for a long time with being told I would never be a Mother and it hurt and I accepted it and when I got used to a carefree life and traveling and being on my own schedule I found myself all of a sudden becoming a Mother. My plans for a military career was no longer in the cards for me, my plans of being a pilot were no longer in the plans for me, my plans of traveling abroad were no longer plans for me, that was hard to give up as well. But now 3 kids later I look and laugh at how many times I was upset at God when He knew all along what He had planned for me. First I was mad for being told I could never have kids and then when I got used to the life of not having kids it gets totally derailed and I was mad at God for that too. So yes I do understand most of what is being said but I think it all needs to be taken to God and not put on others to change the way of honoring Mothers on Mother’s Day. It’s Him who created you and has allowed you to walk this path and it is Him you need to go to for the pain you are feeling. We as a church should all be aware of the trials our brothers and sisters are going through and we should all pray for each other and help each other but without making others feel like they are being insensitive or cruel because they rejoice in their blessings. Motherhood is very hard and requires so much, pray for these Mothers as they pray for you, we all go to sleep at night wondering and hoping we’re not messing up our kids, its a huge burden to bear.

  • kaf

    i left the church after one of these mother’s days a couple years back. sadly, i just don’t think the church is for me. i found a small group of women who meet, and are either older single parents or don’t have children.

    from the childless perspective, mothers are ALWAYS being honored – every time they put their kid to bed, come home, etc. why the church needs to be involved is beyond me.

  • babz covington

    I respectfully disagree. It is mother’s day It is to honor mothers. a very little honored position especially in every day life, in these times . Day to day mothers suffer in one fashion or another in a way a woman who has chosen not to become a mother, or who hasn’t become a mother just doesn’t know. You are struggling to make a mark in your job and being a woman holds you back. We all know that. You are struggling to make a mark in your job and you can’t afford to take time off to care for a sick child or to see the awards show, totally different gig.Your boyfriend cheats on you and it slays you into emotional turmoil? i get that, my heart’s trust has been broken. Add three kids who wonder why everyone is so upset and why is their world so tilted? Entirely different set of emotional parameters.If you have lost children to miscarriage , i consider you a mother.if you consider your self a loss mother, i do also . Stand up. If you’re in church there is a good chance you believe you will see your baby in heaven. anyone who has lost a child?I know that child was real to you, feel free to claim that baby as yours.if you’re forty and your husband is gone and you mourn missed chances and you really want to be someone’s mother? there are so so many kids in foster care who are open to be adopted. 11,000 of them in America last count. Please raise a child . If you are so affected by not being a mother on the one day everyone is supposed to appreciate everything mothers do ? examine that in yourself and feel why it affects you so . If you are a woman who didn’t have children and do not identify as a mother type? really, cool , no problem. i celebrate you every day , you ground breaker, you liberator, you pathway marker,i do not know a single mother who would judge you on that choice . i am a midwife with forty years experience and i know a lot of women ., all the daughters who took any path to womanhood,which may not have included marriage and children? somewhere along the line a mother helped them get to the planet. mothers helped raise them,(unless they didn’t). but neither having children , nor not having children is anything for a woman to be ashamed of. We are who we are. We have done with our lives what we have done and are doing.I bet you a doughnut men do not beat themselves up over fathers day.+

  • ruthanne

    Having a child is not a reward nor an accomplishment and not having a child is not a punishment nor failure.

    But even though the contrary is not often said overtly, it’s definitely communicated in our culture and especially our churches. It’s important to think about the bigger socio-cultural picture of what’s going on here – it’s not really about women who do not have children being singled out for humiliation nor about disrespecting a woman who has reproduced and is rearing children. It’s more about maintaining a particular value, in our culture at large and in churches in particular, that says women are supposed to have kids, and that it’s better to be a mother than not to be. (I am sure someone is going to quote Paul here saying that it’s better to be single, but let’s be honest, neither our churches nor our culture has ever really endorsed that in practical terms.)

    The flip side is that if you don’t conform to this ideal, yes, you are shamed, whether overtly or not. Sad but true. So if you’re on the receiving end, try not to take it personally and realize this is much bigger than you. And if you’re on the other side, why not admit that your position is a privileged one and try to be a little more understanding of the dynamic that it creates for your peers who don’t happen to be in your situation? And also try not to take it as a personal attack against your experience of mothering if someone else expresses a difficult experience of not mothering. Both can be hard. Both can bring joy. Neither one is inherently better than the other. Every person has challenges, difficulties, worries, pains and sorrows – they just differ according to the particularities of our individual situations. Let’s try to be kind to each other.

    I agree with the person who suggested that only church holidays, which are inherently inclusive and wholly reflect distinctly Christian principles, should be celebrated in the church.

  • Mary L

    That is why there is international woman’s day on March 8th which is recognized and celebrated around the world, and in churches on that day all woman are recognized, from little girls to mature ladies, no one gets left out, the tradition actually comes from the Bible, after Ester, the day of celebration after her people got saved.

  • Sarah

    I came across this article in my facebook news feed. I think this is well written and brings light to something people may not think about. And those who say “get over it” and “it’s about celebrating mothers”, I think you missed the point of the article. It’s not about not celebrating mothers, it’s about celebrating mothers but not alienating those who are in pain.

    Some people have brought up other groups in the mother spectrum not mentioned. I would say that while some birthmothers may have been unselfish, it’s hard to talk about that sort of thing. They may not have voluntarily given up their child or other circumstances may have happened. Hearing that without being prepared – for all 3 sides of the adoption equation – can be jarring and off putting. And it doesn’t take into account the adoptive mothers or the adoptees. (Something about those who adopted children of their hear for the adoptive mothers and something about the adoptees who have two mothers/one of blood and one of heart or those who may never know where they come from.) It seems like these groups get forgotten. I know I’ll most likely never get to meet my biological mother (due to the laws in the state I was born in), but my adoptive mom has always been there. That’s partly why Mother’s Day is dodgy for me. I want to celebrate my mom, but I am kind of conflicted about how I feel about my mother. So I usually end up focusing on my mom’s birthday, which is the same time of year (she was born on Mother’s Day).

    The other reason Mother’s Day is dodgy for me is I fall into the unhappily single/childless woman category. I wish I didn’t want to get married and have kids, but I do.It would be so much easier if I didn’t.

  • Pierre

    Hi Amy,
    I am a pastor, husband to one woman for almost 25 years, and father to four children after experiencing the emotional roller-coaster of trying for 4 years to conceive. Biologically, my wife and I were not going to have children and it was and it was horrible to go to church on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I remember one Saturday years ago of being in a Home Depot (before children) and there was a dad there with his young son on his shoulders . . . I quickly left the store, made it to my truck and fell apart asking God why? He didn’t answer my question, but after dealing with those emotions for those 4 LONG years God gave us 4 miracles. What my wife and I experienced during those years never left me.
    As a pastor during the past 10 years I have tried to be very careful not to “single out” anyone by including “spiritual” mothers, “potential” mothers, (same with the men) etc. Your suggestions for acknowledging everyone is simply BEAUTIFUL and I will be incorporating much of this on Sunday.
    Thank you for keeping it real in our “messy” lives!

  • Irene

    As a childless mom, I wanted to thank you for this blog. I think many are misunderstanding you. It seems pretty clear you want to honor mothers, you are just asking for compassion in HOW that is done. I’m all for honoring mothers as well, but I agree that asking them to stand can be hurtful to non-moms or grieving moms.

    I call myself a childless mom because a few years ago I had a miscarriage the week before Mother’s Day. It was my 2nd time miscarrying that year. That Sunday was hard for me but I reluctantly went to church. When the pastor asked all mothers to stand, I didn’t know if I should stand or not so I stayed seated. The miscarriage was early and we had not yet told people I was pregnant. The last thing I needed was for my friends to jump to the conclusion that I was still pregnant if I stood up. I really didn’t want to answer any questions that day. I managed to get through staying seated without crying or really even feeling too sad. I tried to just think of my own mother and focus on my love for my friends who are mothers. And it sort of worked for a minute.

    Then it happened. During the meet-and-greet portion of service a friend, who was wrangling her adorable toddler at the time, asked me when my husband and I were planning to have children. I lost it. I don’t even recall my answer. I felt numb at the sting of the loss still too fresh. I managed to mumble something and find a reason to turn and leave just before hot tears hit my cheeks. There was no stopping those tears. No amount of focusing on how happy I am for others would have held back the flood. I needed GRACE on that day not a cold reminder to “not be selfish” as some seem to be saying in this comment section.

    Later that same day I saw my friend who could tell I left upset. I was able to tell her what happened. She apologized. She cried with me and prayed with me and told me I should have just stood up anyway–I was a mother regardless of whether my children were here or in heaven. I agreed with her. But I silently hoped that next year the pastor wouldn’t ask anyone to stand up at all. Over the next year, I managed to quietly tell enough of my friends about the losses, that the next year on Mother’s Day I felt comfortable standing–I was figuring enough of my friends knew our losses and it would not be a problem. Well, guess what happened? I stood up. Though I was purposely near the back of the church so that fewer people would notice, my fears came true. A newer member who I didn’t yet know very well came up to me later and said, “Congratulations!” I was confused at first, then I realized she had been near me in the service and she most likely didn’t know. I was forced to correct it then and there. Then I turned and left feeling completely embarrassed. I didn’t cry until later that day.

    That was 5 years ago. We remain childless (though I hold the title “Mom” in my heart). I have not been back to church once on Mother’s Day in 5 years. My husband also has difficulty going on Father’s Day. At first I thought he was being sensitive to me, but over the years I realized he hurts too when Father’s are asked to stand and he cannot. We both have parents we love and we honor them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with cards, flowers, phone calls, lunches etc.. without feeling any hurt or pain for our own losses. Making those little gestures to show we care don’t bother us. It’s just the simple act of asking us to disclose OUR parent-status by standing or remaining seated that hurts for some reason. I shouldn’t have to explain myself whether I choose to stand or stay seated. If I stand I don’t want to worry about misplaced congrats or people talking about me behind my back asking why I stood. And if I sit, I shouldn’t face inquisitions into the state or my womb or pitying stares from those who know my history. It’s just uncomfortable no matter what I do. So I’ve chosen not to go to church on Mother’s Day.

    If I ever hear that the pastor is no longer going to single out mothers and non-mothers I might consider going for Mother’s Day again. I wouldn’t mind a round of applause for all mothers in the room–as long as everyone stays seated–most people know who the mothers are without them standing up anyway. I wouldn’t mind an entire sermon about how we should honor mothers or on mothers from the Bible we should emulate. I wouldn’t even mind if they announced all mothers who wish to can pick up a special gift on the way out (so long as there are not people handing out flowers/gifts–while trying to guess who is a mother and who is not–let the mothers pick up their own flowers or ask kids/husbands to go get flowers for their moms/mother of their children or something. Don’t set it up so that some women are assigned the title of mother and some are not. Unless you have lost a child or longed to have one you can’t know how much that can hurt. You never know who has lost a child or is longing for a child or gave up a child for adoption or secretly had an abortion she regrets…

    • Ashkea

      Totally agree. I feel this way every time they honor Vets during a service. I always wanted to go into the military but it never worked out for me. Now I’m too old. Whenever they have all the service members stand up to be acknowledged I just want to cry.

  • melissa

    I do understand this post. I am a slightly older single woman in church. I tend not to go to church on mothers day either because my mum lives 3 and a half hrs away. I get that mothers should be celebrated they all do a great job but I do get it could be awkward for those women who havent had children or cant for medical reasons like cancer. I do think mothers day should be celebrated with your mother in whichever way you feel to. You shouldn’t be judged if you don’t attend that service on mothers day or feel like you are left out but it does happen in alot of churches which is sad. I do wish churches would be more inclusive of older singles not just the younger youth age bracket.

    I try to rejoice with those who rejoice but it is so hard. I know god is preparing me to be a wife at some stage but it does hurt when most of your friends are married and do couple type get togethers.

  • John

    As a pastor who shepherds a flock where there are all of the mothers you list, thank you for this and I will be sharing it tomorrow morning.

  • Katie

    I am a mother and a father. My husband left for Mexico 4 years ago and I have never heard from him since. He was going to go to court, and come right home. Never happened. It’s painful! Do I have children YES! Yet you see the Chick Fil-a date with dad night, girl scouts date with dad night. My sister and mom say it’s to include the father’s. I say it hurts my children. No one is going to be able to understand your pain unless they live through it and then they will only slightly understand. I am sorry that there are those out their grieving, and that mother’s day is hard. yet maybe instead of concentrating on yourselves you should concentrate on your mother’s even if they are in heaven. They deserve to be honored. I go to church on Father’s day, I look around at all the father’s and think lucky women. It’s hard but my church is good they know that my kids are without a father, and they would never leave them out. If your church is leaving you out, find a new church. My church has plenty of activities for just singles, adult and young.

  • Tabitha

    Some of the comments are so insanely and ridiculously heartless!

    Telling the author, and those experiencing the same situation as her, to ‘suck it up’? Saying how dare they be so selfish as to want some compassion, and telling them that they need to heal their pain with God, not the church?

    Well that can be turned right back around at all of you.
    How dare you be so narcissistic to think you deserve to be pointed out, acknowledged and praised for the work you do as a mother or father. You should feel acknowledged by God’s love and not need to be otherwise acknowledged by your church.

    Most of those telling people to ‘suck it up’ will likely read the above and protest over all the hard work that they have to do day in and day out, that they DESERVE to be recognised in their church.
    Well you know what? You ARE recognised in church, just maybe not specifically singled out or identified like you are on mothers/fathers day.
    Most sermons these days seem to be all about discussing issues relating to parenting, marital relationships, etc. Many churches specifically cater to families, whilst leaving the unmarried/single, child-free, and anyone over the age of 25, wondering if they even belong there.

    Church congregations are supposed to be a family in themselves. Family- singular.
    So if people are insistent on celebrating Mothers/Fathers day at church, and having people be praised and recognised, then why not do the recognition and praise for the church members who have acted like mothers/fathers in the past year.

    The older person who either has or has not had children, and goes out of their way to spend their time mentoring to others in pain and acting like a parental figure? They deserve recognition and praise from their church *family* on these days.
    The young person who has or hasn’t yet had children, and helps to run the children’s services/groups, or mind the toddlers/young kids whilst parents leave the service to feed or settle a crying baby? They deserve recognition and praise for those actions from their church *family* on these days.
    The person who has or has not had children, and ministers to the adolescents who are are beginning to find themselves in trouble, acting as a good role model, mentor, and parental figure? They deserve recognition and praise from their church *family* on these days.

    Your own families should be celebrating you on your respective mothers or fathers day, or you to your own parents (and all depending on the situation of course). However, in my opinion, if the day needs to be celebrated at church, then it should be a celebration of the people taking on that role within the church’s family, not simply those that have had children.

    • Tabitha

      “whilst leaving the unmarried/single, child-free, and anyone over the age of 25”

      This was meant to read as anyone over 25 who are single and chid-free, but I just realise it didn’t and made it sound like anyone over 25- so just clarifying.

  • Mandy

    Those walking out of church or standing for recognition they shouldn’t share need to re-examine their hearts for bitterness and pride. The bible says to be sad with others, but also to rejoice in their blessings. Walking out of church doesn’t sound like rejoicing to me. That what’s wrong with many Christians today–selfishness ad lack of honor and respect where it is due, also obedience to ALL of God’s commandments, not cherry-picking the convenient ones!

  • Stuart

    If we carry this to its logical conclusion, we can’t recognize veterans because those who didn’t or couldn’t serve will feel marginalized. We can’t recognize graduates because there might be someone who couldn’t complete enough credits to graduate with their peers. We have to do away with pastor appreciation because there are a lot of non-licensed people who serve in the church and they might feel bad. Eventually, we have to do away with all kinds of recognitions. The reality is that seeing someone recognized for something only diminishes me if I’m too focused on me. Recognizing someone else might remind me of some loss and it might make me sad, but that isn’t a reason to prohibit it. We have to stop using lowest common denominator thinking, where the most easily offended, resentful, or angry person sets the agenda for everyone. We need sensitivity but not at the expense of everything else.

    • Kris

      Stuart — it isn’t about recognition or honoring someone. Please go back and read the article again.

  • S Adams

    OK – I understand where being asked to stand can be awkward. I agree there. But I have to say, I find the whole “oh I’m not a mother because I’m infertile/unmarried/etc” thing EXTREMELY inappropriate and obnoxious. Here is why:

    As Christians, are lives are supposed to be about serving others. OTHERS. My life is not about me. My life is about God, and serving those around me. I really shouldn’t care if *I* am not honored. You know what the great thing about Mother’s Day is? We can all celebrate. Because we ALL have a mother. Whether she was the woman who raised you, or just the woman who was brave enough to carry you to term and give birth to you. We all have a mother, and we all have someone we can think of, honor, and be grateful for.

    Personally, I don’t have any children. I sure wish I did. It just is not possible right now. But I’m not going to sit around and pout because no one is giving me flowers, or asking me to stand up in church. Instead, I’m going to send all my love and prayers of thankfulness up for the woman who gave birth to me, and the other mothers who have influenced my life and made me who I am.

  • HT

    I’ve read a lot of comments and I am torn. I have been on both sides of this. When I was growing up and in high school, I always imagined that I would have a lot of children (6 sounded like a good number). I married young and we struggled with infertility, finally divorcing after 10 years. Many more years pass. We are now 15 years ago, I am nearing the end of my potential child-bearing years. I had just ended a long-term relationship and am sitting in church in the rural area where I live. The church was recognizing mothers…all mothers recieved an angel figurine…then the one with the most children, the one with the most children/grand children present, the youngest mother, the oldest mother, on and on. Many women there had multiple angels at the end. I was the only woman over 20 that did not get an angel that day. And it wasn’t about the angel or the recognition of mothers. It was about the one thing that it seemed all of my life I had longed for would be forever denied me–and all of those angels were arrows to my heart and sorrow. I didn’t begrudge any one of those mothers their recognition. It just hurt that I couldn’t be one of them. And, of course, in a small church it pointed out that I WASN’T a mother. Like an earlier poster, I left church that day and drove around most of the afternoon crying and crying out to God. I listened to radio sermon after radio sermon…they held up Sarah, Elizabeth, and Hannah as ‘hope’ for women who long for children…but that was no comfort to me because all of the women mentioned were MARRIED, so children were at least possible.

    In the beginning of this I mentioned I’d been on both sides of this…Soon after that mother’s day I reconciled with and married the man I had split from earlier that year. A year later I was a single mother. But I didn’t forget the pain of thinking I would NOT be a mother and did not accept any ‘mother’s day’ gift that was not given to all women until my son was old enough to want to bring the gift to me…So I let my son recognize me because not doing so would hurt him.

    For those who think it is sefish for a woman to hurt because she is not ‘recognized’ on mother’s day…it’s not about being recognized. It’s about feeling the pain of loss. You wouldn’t think it was selfish for someone who had lost a loved one to cry when reminded of their loss, so why is it selfish for a woman who longs to be a mother to cry when reminded of HER loss?

    • Lisa

      Some comments have been down right mean. I lost a baby many years ago and consider myself a mama.I do not go to Church on MD because it is painful and awkward. Telling someone to get over it or deal with it ,is just cruel and mean. You are not me,nor should you tell someone to suck it up and go on. To all those that believe us non mothers are to be good sports or deal with it on MD, to you I say, You get over your insensitivity to women everywhere morning and hurt. You shame women by your attitude . The same attitude I have encountered most of my life,mostly from other women with children. I did NOT chose to be childless.

    • Sue

      Oh…sorry for that pain. As a childless women nearing her infertility, know how it feels to be left with nothing while the other women have their little gifts & flowers. My wonderful mother once told me this, you may not have gotten a flower but god sees you….and he does. What man has overlooked, lavished with praise & neglected to see in front of their eyes…..god knows & sees. It gives me comfort & as a southerner say a “well bless their heart” & it sincerely helps. They have no idea how they’re hurting single women & infertile women.

  • J

    As a single woman who has never conceived a child, I appreciate the empathy and prayers. I also appreciate your prayers for all who have been blessed in any way to be a mother, those with children who are alive as well as spiritual mothers, godmothers, “proxy” mothers (to neighbors or relatives whose mothers were less than able perhaps), mothers of children who weren’t born (miscarriages as well as those who chose to abort — I cannot imagine the pain and regret and my heart and prayers go out to you), mothers whose children have died at any age, adoptive and foster and step mothers, mothers who sponsor underprivileged children perhaps in another part of the world. Probably others could be added. I don’t mind others standing and the recognition for mothers and am happy for all, yet I can also empathize with those who may be listed above (like myself) but may not want to stand since they never conceived or otherwise don’t feel invited to stand. I think it’s very important to include in any public or church commendation (whether standing or seated) those who lost their children, born or pre-born, adoptive and foster and step — and it probably wouldn’t hurt anyone to welcome spiritual/godmothers too.

  • tina

    Thanks you, although I am not a mother, I am an Aunt, Godmother, I have feathered friends whom I feel that I am their mother, so yes I do stand with other mothers on Mother’s Day. As I deserve this title, having hand fee baby birds as young as 3 days old. To all mothers out there, have a very Blessed Mother’s Day.

  • Reginald Gabel

    On mother’s day I usually focus on “Godly Women”… it gives me the opportunity to encourage all women, moms, grandma’s, daughters, sisters, aunts, and on and on. This year I am preaching on “Your Mother”. Everyone in the room has a mother, maybe good, maybe bad, maybe she is a Christian, maybe she is not a Christian, she may be alive, or she may not be. BUT, God commands us to love, respect, and honor them. In this age we need to learn that, sadly it has disappeared in so many families. And sadly also, we have become a world of “it’s about me”. I pray tomorrow it is about “our mother”. My mothers has been gone for 37 years, murdered the day after my wife and I were married. I honor her on Mother’s Day in a special way, because she love me. No she was not perfect, far from it, probably would be considered abusive by todays standards, she failed many times but she was my mother and I will honor her by living a life for Christ. Some will be able to thank their mothers tomorrow, and some can only pray for them, but we can all honor them, respect them, encourage them if possible, and let them see Christ in us.

  • noca

    Hate the public shame I feel every time the priest tells the church to come up to receive communion. I’ve always had to sit in the pews among the few others that could not go up and receive communion. In recent years, the church has said you could go up & be blessed, but you have to cross your arms (again, so everybody knows). Neither, sitting or going up with my arms crossed, has ever felt right to me. Church is not a place anybody should feel this sort of discomfort. Being singled out in church can feel really aweful. At least Mother’s Day is one day; try every Sunday! LOL!

  • Egbert

    It is so unfortunate the author left out abortive women. Look around you in church and consider – probably 1/4 of the women you see have had an abortion. Because those women are in church, it shows that many of them have an understanding of what they have done. They carry anguishing guilt, self condemnation, broken hearts and a yearning to feel God’s forgiveness. Pastors SPEAK TO THESE WOMEN!!! They need something besides the barage of painful reminders. Tell them God loves them. Tell them their children are in Heaven. Tell them “real” Christians share in their hurt, will pray for them and forgive them. These poor women, those who learned too late, need compassion – not whispers and finger pointing.

    • Darlene Schacht

      The original article had that in it. It was removed because I didn’t want this post to turn into a debate on abortion, which it would have. Turns out that people found other things to debate about.

  • Linda H.

    Thank you so much for this post! As a married lady struggling with fertility issues and at least one miscarriage, I’m incredibly grateful that the pastor of our church simply says some nice things about mothers on Mother’s Day and doesn’t make anyone stand or single out the mothers in the congregation in any special way. It makes it much easier for those with hurting hearts (at least 2 I know of, including myself in the church have had fertility issues/miscarriages & are still childless). It is nice to honor the mothers, but at the same time be careful not to hurt those who wish to be & cannot for whatever reason. I love my mother & grandmothers & am so blessed to be able to celebrate them & all other mothers on this day, but truly do appreciate not feeling “singled-out” as a non-mother on Mother’s Day. I think pastors would do well to think about the way they honor mothers in their congregations. Mothers do deserve great honor, but it needn’t be at the expense of those whom God has not blessed with motherhood. Thanks again for a good post on this subject!

  • Tiffany

    Great letter! I’ve had friends tell me how hard Mother’s Day is for them, especially going to church on this day. This is something we as a Church need to be mindful of for sure.

  • Katharine

    Beautiful. I remember the mother’s day I was pregnant at 16 and the next one at 17 when I had a little baby and yet I remember feeling like I couldn’t stand in church because I was not the right kind of mom and it was heartbreaking. It’s about time we cherish all women on mother’s day.

  • Dallas

    Thoughtful and well-put. I appreciate this perspective and thank you for letting Mrs.Young shed light on this problem. I do confess I have not read all the comments, so don’t know if it was mentioned, but I wonder if something could also be said to mothers who have aborted their babies, as Christ forgives all sins in justifying the ungodly. I’ll have to find her original post and share that! Thanks, again.

    • Darlene Schacht

      She did consider that and had it in the original article. I asked if we could remove it because I said, this post will turn into a debate on abortion. AS it turned out, the post turned into a debate anyway.

  • Renee

    I guess I don’t understand why something as simple as physically recognizing mothers on Mother’s Day would be something that shouldn’t be done because some women aren’t mothers. I know what it is like to try to conceive and not have it happen. But, suggesting that a mother shouldn’t be publicly recognized because I can’t conceive seems very selfish to me. I understand the struggle…but I don’t think the answer is to suggest not recognizing mothers on 1 day of the year. I think the answer lies in coming to a place in ourselves that we can do what the Bible says and rejoice with those that rejoice. Yes, there is the portion of the scripture that says mourn with those who mourn…but I just don’t feel that our mourning should rob their rejoicing.

  • Katy

    I love the heartfelt intention behind this, but I think as other have said it makes a good case for not having mother stand during the worship service. This wasn’t the original intention of the holiday anyway.

    As a single mother who is very happy in her singleness your prayer would not be comforting.

    Also, I know several foster parents. Dealing with the foster care system is incredibly hard. Dealing with children who come to you in crisis and then are removed from your home again after you have bounded is extremely hard. Foster mothers are mothers. Not mentors.

    My point being one person, no matter how well intentioned cannot name the experience of every mother. Unless you want to have a worship that is designed for and by mothers and sets aside the hour to giving voice to the depth and breath of that experience I’d just assume not.

    Name Mother’s Day and then move on. That’s what my church does. No one stands. No big a speaches are made about mothers. No one has died from not standing or being recognized. We talk about how this is a day of peace.

  • Bee

    Wow…….reading thru some of these comments you’d think people hadn’t read the article at all.

    No one is saying we shouldn’t honor moms and celebrate them. No one.

    No one is begrudging moms their day of recognition. Motherhood is tough, moms need all the encouragement and uplifting they can get. They need support, no doubt about it.

    Taking a day to honor moms is important, and awesome. By all means, let’s affirm these amazing women.

    I doubt any non-mom would disagree with any of that.

    The problem isn’t with recognizing and building up moms.

    The problem is with a church society that still equates motherhood as synonymous with true womanhood. That implies to non-moms nearly every time they walk thru the doors of the church all the other 364 days that they are not whole women. It’s likely not intentional. But it’s there.

    I think the non-moms are just worn from being told, everyday, not just on Mother’s Day, “stop being selfish and rejoice with those who rejoice” while their heart is ripping in two and no one seems to care because after all, it’s not about them.

    I think they’re just tired of their pain not being considered legitimate. As though not being a mom is always just a choice you make.

    I think they’re tired of being considered less valuable in their service to Christ because it’s different from those who raise kids.

    It’s not about political correctness. Nor is it about fairness.

    If the way we as a church viewed women was changed the rest of the year, to include all women of all life stages as true women, and all the pain women face was considered valid, whether with kids or without them, perhaps the non-moms wouldn’t feel so alienated to sit while their mother-sisters stand. Perhaps it wouldn’t be yet one more reminder that they haven’t truly arrived. And maybe hearing rejoice with those who rejoice wouldn’t rub more salt in already bleeding wound.

    • Renee

      I am so sorry that you are this hurt and angry over this. It obviously bothers you a great deal. Just don’t let it cause you to assume wide generalizations or to become hardened…because doing that rarely leads you to an accurate perception.

      No, I don’t have an issue with mothers being recognized in church.

      But just to clear some things up…I also don’t think that women are less valuable to Christ because they don’t have children. I don’t think that they are not whole women and never have I heard anyone express the idea that their pain is not legitimate. I recognize that it must be hugely painful to not be able to have children. I can’t imagine. I would be out of line to say I could fully understand what that must feel like. And I am so sorry if that is what you or anyone on this post is living with.

      I don’t deal with the pain of not being able to have a child, but I have other pain that I live with…the pain of being married to a man who doesn’t want anything to do with me…and staying in it so that my children don’t have their lives uprooted. So every time someone recognizes an anniversary in church, or announces they are engaged, or shows me their daughter’s wedding photos or I get a wedding invitation, I feel such overwhelming pain, a temptation to become bitter…and sometimes it is very hard to fight back tears and be happy with the person that is happy. But, the fact is, something wonderful has happened to them…something I wish I had…and I want to be happy with them. I don’t want to demand that they set aside their happiness because I don’t have what they have or because it makes things hard for me. I pray for God’s help, I smile and focus my attention on them…not myself.

      You can disagree with me all you want…but I will always believe that it would be self centered of me to do anything else.

      If I was beside you in church, I would wish they did not have mothers stand up or come up front because I would not want you to feel the pain of feeling publicly left out. But, I don’t think the church is saying all the things you are assuming when they do those things. It is ignorance…not intentional evil. Don’t let your heart get bitter.

      • Bee

        I think you misunderstood my point. My heart is not bitter, not one bit. I have no problem with moms being acknowledged in the church, and I applaud more loudly than anyone else on Mother’s Day because moms are awesome and should be acknowledged.

        My point was the culture within the church that views women as not whole unless they are moms is the catalyst for posts like this. You don’t hear about it from them much because any time it’s pointed out to be the case, they are told to “not be bitter and rejoice with those who rejoice”. Which they should do, and most try to do.

        However–the issue not that that moms don’t have pain too. The issue is they are allowed to share it, and be validated in it. They are allowed to be real and talk about the hurt, with little reprimand. Whereas most women without kids are often not. No one is trying to take Mothers Day away from moms. They are simply reacting to a church culture that tells them their worth is wrapped up in their womb. You may not see them that way, but that is the message that is implied to them constantly as they walk thru the church doors.

        I wish all moms a very happy Mother’s Day today, and the grace to keep on being great moms, because that’s a tough job. And I wish the non-moms the grace to keep smiling and rejoicing because that’s a tough thing too.

  • casey

    As a woman who came to abuse at her mothers hand. Broke the cycle of hurt, to create a loving and safe home for my siblings… Then starting my journey to create a family of my own. I experienced such loss at the death of my child at 12 weeks. I nearly died in the aftermath. Promptly after I lost my grandmother, and learned my husband was terminally ill. We would never have another chance for a family. I cannot celebrate Mother’s Day for myself, but I aknowledge the ladies who can, I do not think it a matter of standing of roses given. A simple word of thanks, a hug, a family of believers gathering together to celebrate life, doesn’t have to be hurtful- instead it could be beautiful. For all. I truly believe that it what the author is implying not to take away or diminish. This is a day of remembrance of cebrating life and those that carry it, it’s a reminder that day in and day out God calls us to honor these women in our lives. It is also a day to grieve those with great loss. Embracing the culture of the world around us does not imply we also embrace the sin and strife that it creates- but also does not alienate those in need of a loving Savior.
    In love I say to those who argue saying it is being politically correct- remember Christ asked plainly those without sin may throw the first stone.
    He gave messages of hope, saying go and sin no more. We cannot turn those away seeking Christ, in either camp-be careful of your wishes for a celebration or no celebration in your honor or someone else’s that may turn a soul from finding grace.

  • Lara

    It took a long time for someone to say this. There are way too many callous pastors and priests out there. They need to read and learn.

  • Kris

    Great post, and something that *needed* to be said.

    I find it disturbing the number of comments brushing off the message as women who need to stop being jealous, or that it’s being “pc”, or that the real mothers deserve one day in the church where they get to stand and be honored for all their sacrifices. There is something wrong with the church if mothers feel so ignored that they need one day out of 365 where they get to be worshipped, but perhaps that is a different topic.

    I hope the women who commented similar sentiments spend some time praying about the issue, and maybe going back and reading the post again while putting aside the knee-jerk reaction of someone trying to steal their one special day. Ask yourself if you really need a moment in God’s house where you are put in the spotlight? Does that make you any less a mother? Any less respected or loved by your family or church? If it does then I am sorry. I hope that you can feel fulfilled somehow.

    Mothers can be honored in a church service so many ways, the pastor could offer a special prayer or message at the end of the service, add a special thank you in the bulletin, even offer baskets of flowers that women could choose to take on their way out…. are these not special enough for you?

  • Gretchen

    Thanks. I wrote something to recognize “the moms who aren’t” last year on this day, too. I am one of them. I am a nanny. I mother other people’s children. They may not sleep in my house, but I love them with every fiber of my being. My husband does a great job at recognizing me in this all of the time. I have to say, I even had a hard time getting up the courage to go to church this morning (a pastor’s daughter and future missionary!). I wasn’t worried about how the church would handle it (the have all women stand, give all women a gift, etc.), but my small group, which is for “young couples,” is now all young families minus us. Two different people in our class today thanked the mothers, fully knowing I’m the only one who’s “not,” as they still can’t seem to comprehend how someone who didn’t give birth could be a mother.
    I fully support appreciating mothers. My mom is my absolute best friend and there aren’t enough days in this life to thank her and repay her in the manner she deserves. So I understand some of the criticism in that we should be able to celebrate one another without offending someone else. But a church should be a place that makes everyone feel celebrated and no one feel offended. We live in a broken world in which broken hearts need tending. I wish we could all be happy constantly, but we are broken creatures. No one should ever have to feel “less” in worship. Then we are not doing our job. Yes, some people may feel convicted and upset with themselves for sinful tendencies, but this is not offensive, it’s growth. It is offensive when it’s not related to sin. It is not sin to not birth a child. In fact, in I Cor. 7, Paul tells us it’s more noble to be single and be fully devoted to the Lord than to have mixed priorities. Let’s honor those who choose a celibate, devout life. Being a mother is not a “higher calling” than anything else in life.
    I wonder, who defines what a mother is? If I don’t stand when mothers are asked to stand, I am denying my own heart, yet if I do, I will be judged for being disrespectful to the “real” mothers. I think the church can say a simple thanks to mothers on this day, without having them stand or be elevated above the rest. Families will celebrate their mothers afterward. And if mothers are offended that the church doesn’t show them enough appreciation on this day, then their’s are the hearts that are selfish and prideful, not those who “aren’t.”

  • Karen

    while i totally understand this lady’s point, she must realize that in 1908 when Anne Jarvis decided to request a sunday to honor mothers, she had no idea that 100 years later people would be so sensitive to everything. Anne Jarvis was never a mother either. yet SHE was the driving force behind a day once a year to honor all mothers. Mothers are a special breed. we all have one. and while many women, through no choice of their own, don’t have children, they must understand that one day a year, it’s ok for it to be about someone else.

  • Anonymous

    I really valued this piece of writing to a very high degree.
    Yesterday, we did church.
    My partners son came with me. I am a not-yet-but-one-day step-mumma, but I am also the mother of a baby that died at 23 weeks gestation.
    So, am I a mumma? And am I meant to stand? And do they want to acknowledge my loss of a child? Is that too messy? Does acknowledging the grief of losing a baby make the whole day too icky?
    I may never birth a living healthy baby. But I have birthed a bubba that I love 10 years later with a fierce and heartbreaking love still.
    I love my partners son. Not just a whimsical “when its easy and tidy” love. But I love that child with a fierce overwhelming desire and urge to be sure that that child knows he is safe, important, valued, and wanted.

    Our pastors have a super tough job. I don’t know that I could herd a whole flock of diverse sheep. But our Pastor’s sign up for that gig and give it everything they have. I think it would be very difficult to take into thought all the elements of motherhood because there are just so many. And Pastor’s are humans too, and I don’t think they make mistakes out of malice or with the view to be hurtful, but rather more out o af view that they just haven’t considered all the angles, sometimes.

    I think its good to point out things that are hurtful or unhelpful to them. But I also think we need to be sure it comes from a place of love and respect. This letter is blunt, but very helpful I think.

    So thank you, for speaking about a subject that affects a whole stack of us.

  • Bob Cleveland

    Great letter. But I question why the church finds it necessary to celebrate what is patently a secular holiday. It’s not like Christmas or Easter, which were Spiritual observances commercialized by a fallen world. It started as a secular observance, for believers & non-believers alike, in order to honor one’s own mother.

    Thankfully, our church didn’t do that, this year.

  • L

    Sadly, I feel like the point here has been missed by so many. Words like “selfish,” “jealousy,” and “self-pity” are absolutely not what this is about. I am all for Mother’s Day. I have always done something special with my mom on this day, she doesn’t want our gifts just our time. As a childless woman approaching mid 30’s who HAS experienced the type of loss, longing, and ache that is being discussed here I can say that I have avoided church on Mother’s Day myself. The church can sometimes be a lonely place if you’re a single lady with well-meaning older ladies joking that I better hurry up with those grandkids for my mother “before it’s too late.” There are Mother’s Days when it’s hard just to go to the gas station because an (again well meaning) employee says “Happy Mother’s Day” because you obviously appear to be of child-bearing age. Either way you end up crying in the car, alone, because you shouldn’t show your pain on this day and take away from the real moms. We are talking about a holiday that became so commercialized that even its own founder decided to boycott. I am not at all say we shouldn’t celebrate, but I agree with the author. There are plenty of reminders outside of the church, shouldn’t inside the church be the place where those hurting women can be loved and respected along with the other mothers? Just the opinion of another gal who’s been there.

  • Amy

    I appreciate your comments and have walked the road of infertility. My husband and I haven’t attended service on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in years. And probably never will. We want parents to be acknowledged and celebrated and babies to be dedicated and moms to show up wearing corsages, we just don’t want to be reminded that for us those joys will likely never be a part of our lives. So we stay home and trust that our Father’s love is big enough for moms who stand and for women who’s seats are empty that Sunday.

  • Debra

    It’s one Sunday out of 52. I lost a a brothef, two uncles and two cousins to war, but I would not dare ask the pastor to not have veterans stand on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. They deserve it, how dare I begrudge them their moment because I am not on their list. It’s up to me to deal with my loss and to lean and trust on my God for strength and grace to still be able to share in the happiness and celebrate with those who have not had to endure what I have. Graduates are asked to stand during graduation time. Should that cease as well be ause everyone hasn’t fulfilled that dream – be it high school, college or beyond. Should newlyweds not be recognized? Those whomhave overcome cancer and/or other dreaded diseases and illnesses? When you attempt to take away or detract from other’s successes and accomplishments does it really add to your peace? Or does it simply mask your fear? While the other mothers are standing perhaps you could bow your head and pray for God to take away some of the resentment you feel and to soften your heart.

  • JustMe

    Wow, look at all the jealousy in these comments! I’m 32 and not a mother but I LOVE Mother’s Day – why? Because I get to celebrate my MOTHER. If you can’t be happy for someone else on ONE day a year, then don’t go out at all.

    Of course pastors are going to acknowledge the mother’s on MOTHER’S DAY! Just as they will acknowledge FATHERS on Father’s Day!

    How is it that people who claim to be Christian and the children of Christ can be so incredibly petty? One day a year, that is it. All of you are on here whining because you don’t have kids. Well, I’m sorry, but not every woman on Earth will have children. It’s a fact of life.

    I am happy being childless because I know I’m not ready and so does God. I trust His timing. All of you don’t seem to. Perhaps I am never meant to be a mother, perhaps I will be, I do not know nor am I going to dwell upon it.

    If you can’t be happy for those around you on one day a year, then don’t go to church that day. If you are going on a day that you feel like this, then you are not doing as our Father has directed you to do. You are not loving your neighbor, you are not loving your sisters in Christ. You are being petty and hard hearted just because they have something you do not.

    To all the women who have had miscarriages: I understand your pain. However, you can stand. You are a mother, to a baby in heaven. You carried that baby inside of you until God decided to call him/her home!

  • Kevin McLemore

    To be honest, I haven’t followed the conversation in this thread – I just simply want to write to say thank you for the liturgy you shared above…I used in worship this past Sunday, and received incredible feedback about it. Thank you for that resource.

  • Louisa Mae

    I’m saddened by the lack of empathy in some of the posts. No wonder people get turned off by church. If you were successful in having a child or two or three, please, don’t presume that you understand what it feels like to be a childless woman who had none and will never have any. It is soul-crushing, physically painful, and humiliating to endure fertility treatments and face the negative test, month after month. It takes an unbelievable toll on your marriage. At the end of six years with nothing to show for it, I didn’t want to live anymore. Please read that again: I didn’t want to live anymore. Five years later, the ache is still there, all the time, 365 days of the year, and on Mother’s Day, it gets jacked up to level of nausea and depression that God has not seen fit to remove yet. Some of you seem to see me and others like me as a jealous harpy, a petulant child stomping her foot who just wants to pee on your parade on your Big Day. I hope you can believe that I don’t wish you ill. I just don’t understand–as a woman who didn’t get blessed with motherhood–why motherhood isn’t enough of a reward in itself. Why do you need a public acknowledgement? I just want God to make the pain stop, and it’s so ironic and awful when His house, where we seek solace, is the place that creates the most pain.

  • Grace

    It is an honor to have scrolled through all these accolades just to add mine to the bottom of the pile. What a gift, to have your tortuously complex point of view so clearly articulated. I also didn’t attend church yesterday in part because there were too many layers of emotion to sort through. I am grateful for the network of sisters out there like me, who suffer silently and yet have faith that somehow this is for our salvation. Thank you from the deepest part of my heart.