Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the childless mothers on Mother's Day {including me}

I think last year was the first year that I realized the "hard" of Mother's Day.

As a child, growing up in Haiti, we actually celebrated Mother's Day twice -- once on the American Mother's Day, celebrating my mom, and then a couple of weeks later on the Haitian Mother's Day celebrating the women of the nation.  On that day we would adorn cloth or felt flowers, pinned onto our carefully chosen dresses. We always wore red, signifying that our mom was alive. It was a bit of a highlight as a child. Any excuse to wear flowers, real or otherwise, found me gleeful!

As I moved on into my college and adult years, I found myself away from my mother on most Mother's Days, and while it was never fun or easy to be away from each other, we adapted and adjusted, sending cards or emails, phoning or Skyping or Facebooking, depending on the technology of that year.

When I moved to Africa, Mother's Day was a special treat then too. The church made a really big deal about it, having the children give out chocolates to all of the ladies. We would also honor our pastor's wife as the mother of the church, and as I was the children's coordinator at our campus, the children and the volunteers would give me treats and cards making me feel so special to be a weekly part of their lives.

And then we took an indefinite sabbatical, and I found myself on Mother's Day last year feeling the full weight of my loss and separation from my own mother, from the children and teens and women I had mentored, and from the status quo of having my own biological children, especially given my over-30 age bracket.

So, last year, I hibernated and found others, throughout the blogging world, who were battling with this day like me.  I read their stories and wept for them and for myself. And then I wrote this post about how sometimes Mother's Day isn't easy, sharing their stories with you.

With that surprise emotional attack last year, this year, I decided to be prepared, contemplating my hibernation, avoiding any conversations, blogs, or stories that might bring the sting of loss to the surface, and planning an possible get-together with friends who also walk the same lonely road.

And then I read my friend Annie's post, On Wombs and Women's Work.

I almost did not read it, truthfully, because I was on a mission to protect my mind and heart and soul from "going there," to that ugly place. If determination could shield me, I was armed to the teeth, ready to hunker down and wait out the impending storm threatening me outside of my shelter. But as she is one of my dearest besties and has my heart, I craved her words, her wisdom, her sentiments... and dove in the post until I came across these words, stopping me in my tracks...

I think about this business of babies and birthing, and how all of it starts in the first place. A mother becomes what she is because of her willingness to let a miracle grow and expand and exist within her.
At best it begins with love and vulnerability, and it grows, day by day, in womb swelling to make room for new life. We are enlarged and able to sustain wild, beautiful life growing because of a miracle conceived in vulnerability. (Even in adoption, this rings true.)

My guard descended, and I cannot help but wonder if maybe she was even thinking of me, reminding me that I am not a forgotten soldier abandoned on the battlefield.

You see, I, too, am a mother.

Maybe not in the obvious ways, with physical stretch marks and a memorable birthing story, yet I wear the lines of expansion on my heart, in the recesses of my soul, where no one but me and Jesus can see. Because after all, He is the one stretching me to love children not my own, to surrender myself to love those who may never wear my last name, to give selflessly to as-of-yet nameless faces who will never have my eyes or my husband's smile, and to have relentless faith that He will fulfill His promises to me of one day delivering my own biological child{ren} into this world.

And the swellling hurts.

I often wonder if it is worth it...
And yet...
...I press on.

That is what a mother does, right?

Vulnerable, scared, petrified of what is coming, yet hopeful that God will some how, some way break through the barriers, giving us the strength to bring forth Hope with skin on into our awaiting arms and hearts.

And I know I am not alone.

Maybe you, too, have felt the sting of Mother's Day without a child to hold, a little voice calling you Mama. With an ache that transcends words, a sorrow that seems to cave in on you.

Can I tell you how precious you are, childless mother? Can I remind you that your mother's heart transcends the natural here and now? Can I breathe hope into your bones {and mine} that God is stretching and pulling and shaping you on the inside to hold a promise in your hands that will surprise the world?

May I just love on you until you know deep, deep down in your soul that you are not alone, not forgotten, not abandoned by the Father....and by me? May I offer you grace in the questions, in the thrashing, in the moments where you cannot go on? May I gently give you a piece of His strength in the midst of your storms?

Isaiah 54:1-3
                    “Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, 
O Jerusalem, 
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman 
now has more children
than the woman 
who lives with her husband,”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge your house; 
build an addition.
Spread out your home, 
and spare no expense!
For you will soon 
be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy 
other nations
and resettle the ruin."
(click HERE to read the whole kinda ROCKS!)

Will you share your story, your hope, your promise from the Lord with me? I would love to stand together with you as we believe in the God who holds our future.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, 
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.


Katy said... Best Blogger Tips

love that the post spoke to your heart! i definitely see you stepping out and "growing" babies and being vulnerable and lovely already and have seen you that way for a long while. and i think too, it's that you're so blessed that you do get to do that and you have a husband and you can have a family. you can be on this journey. <3

Emily Whitehill Richter said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I am sitting at the table crying in my salad because I just wrote out Mother's Day cards to the Moms in my family! This post hit home! Thank you for your words!

Cara @ WhimsySmitten said... Best Blogger Tips

You *are* a mother indeed.

Aware, so much, this year of the pain of this day and struggling with it for different reasons. May your heart be comforted and you find rest in His promises while you know you are on the path of His leading. The little ones in your life and those that will be in your life in the future are so, so blessed. 

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Katy, I love your heart. Thank you so much for SEEING mine too. You are precious...more precious than mere words. Love you!!

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Emily! I popped over to your Facebook page and see you are in the same waiting game as I am. Oh, girl...{HUGS}...I wish I could sit for coffee or tea or ice cream or chocolate or WHATEVER and just share heart to heart. This journey is no easy one and yet...He is in it....and that is hard and good all wrapped up into one. Thank you for sharing how you were touched. It makes the vulnerability I shared worth know that I am not alone.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, friend...those words are like a sweet soothing oil caressing my soul...thank you! You are a treasure to me! Thinking of you today as you, too, open up your hearts and home to children not of your womb.

brian miller said... Best Blogger Tips

this is def a tender post...and yes in your own way you are a mother...and one day will be a mother...i am glad you are reaching out as well to others that feel that pinch...there are def many...

Annie | said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, friend. Tears here, too. And many thanks for the way our stories all weave together. Love you, Lindsey.

Natasha said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful. There is something breathtaking about realizing you're a mother when you have no children of your own. It's like a special grace that fills life with awe. <3

Emily Wierenga said... Best Blogger Tips

this is such a needed post. i've found myself tiring of all of the mother posts too (ha! and i just wrote one... woops) and feeling the ache for those that don't have physical children, and then i read this... such a wise and profound take on the day, lindsey. you are a mother, in the spiritual sense of the word. bless you.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

I love you too...thank you for always having my heart. Jesus is so good to us, right? ...making us friends! #LoveHim

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Natasha...your words bring more much needed healing balm to my achy soul. Thank you for that!

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, Emily! The thing that most endears me to you is your BIG heart for all hurts and sorrows....thus this community! I am thankful to be a part of it, wounds and all, and I appreciate your encouragement to stand in the heart of the Father as He places the heart of a mother in me AHEAD of time. It's a strange journey this one...

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Brian for coming here and "hearing" my heart. The beauty in the ashes is that others too my find solace here...thank you for that encouragement that other will...

Barbara said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes Lindsey, after 12 years of waiting, disappointment, fear, grieving and many times of hibernation) I finally came to that point that ok Lord, if it not in your plan for us to have children then take this desire out of my heart. I will be content with my nieces and nephews and all the children (I taught preschool for 15years) you bring in my life, I have a godly husband that assured me that he married me for me not with the intend to have children. Yes, his desire to have them was just is strong. What a blessing God gave me. I was ok with it but 6 years age this week, I got a phone call that there was a pregnant woman who was desparate to find a home for her unborn child. I was not emotionally ready for this. I  had to prepare my heart for Mother's day. It was so hard and painful and no one understood my pain. I just focused on my mom and mother-in-law. Everyone around me was a mom. So that mother's day I couldn't face the decision of this adoption. Too much fear of disappointment and doubt, I ignored it but my husband was determined that if this was God's will, then we were going through it.
Monday after Mother's day, I saw a friend whose mother called us about the baby and she asked me if were going to go through with the adoption. I asked her if she knew more about the situation and she told me more and... the more she talked the more peace came over me and I knew that this was God's plan. Yes, today I have a 6 year old boy whom I love with all my heart. When he was born, I said to God "thank you and I now know the rest of your plan" You see Lindsey when we have to wait for something that is so out of our control, it's so hard. We are used to having control of our lives at least I did. God sees our pain and yearning for things. As women, it is within us to bare children, that need, that desire. and to not have it happen, it's too painful. I remember my mother-in-law saying to me, maybe it's God's plan for you to adopt. Well, I didn't want to hear that but I now know and feel as though I had my son biologically. He is such a blessing and my life is forever changed because all that I went through. I still grieve for the people who are still without a child. I encourage you to start focusing on what God has given you and all the things and the people in your life. It really helped me to focus on those things. My prayer is that God with soon show you his plan and give you peace this weekend.  You are a special young lady, I know God has a plan, it's just hard to wait sometimes.
Barbara Daisey 

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