Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is not my favorite day to deal with, and this year it had the added sting of following so closely behind a loss and sharing the date with my birthday. I have often skipped church on Mother’s Day to avoid dealing with it – the awkward (for me, anyway) invitation to stand as an acknowledgement of achieving motherhood, the awkward (for me, anyway) gift that I can’t gracefully accept or decline without losing it a little, and the simple recognition of a day that I can’t really participate in even though I have children. It’s just not the same, and it’s a reminder of loss and unattainable dreams. The absolute hardest Mother’s Day church service is definitely baby dedication. It’s a sweet tradition – if you’ve had babies to dedicate – otherwise, it’s a good day to sleep in.
This year, there was no baby dedication during the service, and we decided to brave it. (Actually, I decided to try it, and my sweet husband who wouldn’t have been too affected by the day agreed to support whatever I felt like I could handle…) There was no extra standing ovation for the moms present this year, but there was a request during the greeting to hug a mom near you while greeting the people sitting around you. In the choir loft, mass hugging ensued, but I noticed one of our sweet older ladies on the back row had tears forming in her eyes while she tried to keep her face still. She and her husband have been married for over fifty years, and they never had children. She’s never told me so, but I get the feeling that she probably lost at least one pregnancy; she’s told me that people her age just don’t talk about things like that. I went over to give her a special hug, and she said, “It’s just a hard day.” I said, “I know” and spent the next song trying not to cry when I realized what I needed to tell her after the service.
After church I caught her in the ladies robing room before she had a chance to get out into the crowd so I could tell her this: “You are just as much a mother as anyone else here today who actually gave birth. You count today for all the time and love you have put into the lives around you – including mine. You are a mom, and you deserved a special hug today and to know that.” We were both crying by then, and she said, “It’s so nice to hear that you count.” It is nice, and it’s hard to feel like you count on a day like Mother’s Day when you have failed the simple biological task of becoming a mother. You feel like you shouldn’t count because you failed. It’s silly when viewed logically, but that’s the emotional toll.
I had the honor of helping another hurting lady through that day, and I was reminded less than five minutes later almost word for word by a sweet friend that I count for the same reasons I gave my choir buddy. Mother’s Day was still not an easy day for me, but it was a sweet reminder of how the body of Christ should work: serving and being served, building up and being built up, encouraging each other in love.

Holding Back/No Fear

A while ago, I heard a news story about a woman who does not feel fear.  Scientists want to study her brain; I wonder how she’s still alive.  I’m sure I would do physically reckless things without the inhibiting factor of fear, but my life would more likely be imperiled by the list of people who would want to kill me if my tongue were not inhibited by fear.  Or, if no one smote me, I would be fairly lonely after I alienated most of the people around me.  Well, I might not be too lonely, now that I actually think about it: the people I feel like I have to tiptoe around are not people I love to spend time with, so I might not miss them.

I also recently read an article with tips on blogging.  The sage advice was to write about yourself, avoid ranting, and to consider what you’re holding back if you think you’ve run out of things to write about.  I thought that last tidbit was most interesting since I have been avoiding writing for a few weeks.  I feel like I have been writing the same things over and over, and I felt guilty about posting a Christmas version of grief, especially since I didn’t really feel like writing anything uplifting to go along with it.  I posted the Christmas blog today after I realized that I can’t be the only person who feels sad during the Christmas season.

As I considered what else I hold back, I realized that I don’t write about a lot of things out of fear – fear that they won’t be accepted, fear that I will be misunderstood, fear that I will embarrass my family or friends, fear that I will anger my family.  I certainly do not need or want to rant like a banshee in such a public forum; I have great listeners for that. 🙂  But I do hold back quite often in an attempt to control my emotions and/or to avoid dealing with them, and, given the way that I have felt for the last month, I need to do quite a bit of processing.  I tend to bottle up and avoid by any means possible what I am really feeling, so I walk around feeling like I might explode at any moment.  I don’t explode, but I do get terrible migraines.  So, this year I am making a few resolutions, the first being to blog more often (let’s say at least twice a week) in order to address the things I would otherwise hold back, even from myself.

I haven’t made real resolutions in about a decade because I never follow through with them.  I don’t know if this year will be different in that respect, but something’s got to give one way or another.  Perhaps the real root of my resolution avoidance is fear.  If I publicly proclaim a goal and then fail to achieve it, I have both failed to reach my goal and looked like an idiot – better I keep it to myself so that no one else will be disappointed in me.  That fear has to go, so my second resolution is to accomplish the following goals this year: I will complete at least one rough draft novel (I have three stories that have been languishing on my laptop for several years); I will run at least one mile without stopping (three would be fabulous, but I won’t get too far ahead of myself); I will get caught up and cleaned out at work; and I will be honest about my progress (even though I will probably hate that last one).

I have a million other things I would like to get done this year, but the other root of my failure to keep resolutions is that I make too many or make them too difficult to achieve.  I look at the things that I know I could accomplish, and I expect myself to do all of them.  In reality, I probably could do everything I want to do (if I were Superwoman and had an extra 12 hours each day), but I set myself up to fail by expecting way too much too quickly.  Instead of being happy that my house is moderately clean (more than half the rooms are presentable) and none of the living creatures under my care died or were seriously wounded, I am usually frustrated by what I didn’t accomplish in a given day.  So my final resolution is to forgive myself for not being able to do everything and to only be tough on myself where more rigorous discipline is required (pretty much just where other people count on me) – like work.

You are welcome to hold me accountable in any way you wish, just so long as you know that I already feel lighter by writing this and sharing it with you.  I am now off to the treadmill (while I’m still motivated)!