Be gentle with the childless on Mother’s Day

Sign posted by fence at cliff overlooking ocean

WARNING: Mother’s Day is around the corner

Here it is, nearly Mother’s Day. Can’t believe how unremarkable the day is to me, nor how little I want to write about it. Almost as if, now that the pain of childlessness is mostly gone, I just don’t want to go there anymore.

So there’s a wee bit of hope for you, women with aching arms! One day the pain may subside. But today I write a post for those who ache still, who cower at this upcoming holiday that pours acid on their hearts.

Actually, I’m writing to all you husbands, parents, siblings, and friends of those hurting women. Because YOU CAN HELP. Here’s how:

But first, a disclaimer. Please use your own best judgment. You are the ones who love and know the women you’re thinking of right now. I write from my experience and personality. Ignore the suggestions that would be an obvious poor choice for your women.

  1. Acknowledge her pain of Mother’s Day. Wrap your arms around her, ask if she’s dreading the day, and how you might help make it better.
    • If you are this woman’s mom (or mom-in-law), offer to bypass the day entirely rather than force her to celebrate you when she is in so much pain. Your daughter loves you. Let that be enough.
    • If you are her husband and a celebration is planned with your mom, see if your wife is up for it — and if not, offer to work out something different with your mom. This is a chance to really love on your wife…please don’t make her feel badly about needing some distance from the celebration. Coddle her this day.
  2. For the love, get her some flowers! C’mon…really? The moms at church get flowers. Restaurants — including fast food, I discovered one year — ask, “Are you a mom? This carnation is for you!” Don’t get me wrong; I think this is great, really and truly. I just wished someone would have given me a beautiful bouquet that day and said, “I love you, and here are some flowers while you wait. You’re valuable just the way you are.”
  3. Send a card. One year my mom sent to me a Mother’s Day card that was specific to empty arms. (Card companies think of everything.) But the card doesn’t have to be that specific…it could be anything; just write something inside that says you’re thinking of her on Mother’s Day. No, YOU WILL NOT CAUSE MORE PAIN. She’s already feeling the pain; you’re choosing to share her burden, and that makes it hurt less.
  4. It’s not too late to plan a get-away! Mother’s Day changed from a test of my stamina to a day I anticipated when we began planning fun get-aways on that day. A hike at the coast one year; Saturday night at a boutique hotel another year, followed by a scenic drive and hike on Sunday. Hop on Groupon and see what you can find in your area for this weekend.

Belated addition: I neglected to say what we are doing this Mother’s Day. I was delighted when Rob’s dad called to say he and Mom are taking Grandma out for dinner; would we like to join them? So I get out of cooking. Otherwise, a normal Sunday. I’m just fine with that.



7 responses to “Be gentle with the childless on Mother’s Day

  • Katy

    Thanks, Kim. I find this day difficult, even though we are now expecting our own child. I still FEEL infertile, and I don’t know when that will change. We are going to be doing our usual for both parent’s day: a drive somewhere with no radio. Enjoy dinner with Rob’s gran!

    • Kimberly

      Hi Katy,

      I thought of you yesterday as I considered who might feel some pain this weekend. Funny thing, I thought you’d be fine — and excited about M-Day — because you’re pregnant. What we’ve both wanted for so long. I’m glad you commented, so that I know differently now…. I felt the same way last year, with Madeleine in my arms. I was still infertile; we adopted, after all. And that first year as a mom was really tough, for a variety of reasons. So for M-Day we went back to my favorite M-Day memory: A hike on the coast. “Return to the place of my childlessness with my daughter” — you know, that sort of thing. I thought it would be amazing. But a 9-mn-old on a hike is not amazing. =) This year I’ve toyed with the idea of taking off on my own in the morning. Rob is helping w/ children’s worship, and M will be in nursery. I hear a lot of experienced moms say all the want on M-Day is to be alone. =) So we’ll see. Either I’ll enjoy worship alone in church (which, as an introvert, I DO enjoy), or I’ll go to a coffee shop. I know this is a long response to your comment, but I really am glad you took a moment to say something. I’ve thought of you often, and will look forward to meeting Little One sometime. In the meantime, I’ll continue to “hold you in the light,” as we Quakers like to say…your healing may not be complete for some time, if ever. And that’s OK. (You know that, right? I tend to forget.)

  • A Childless Mother, Is still A Mother. Though her arms may be empty… her heart never will. | seventhvoice

    […] Be gentle with the childless on Mother’s Day ( […]

  • Jamie

    Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I loved this article so much I’ve linked to in on my website. Thank you!!

    • Kimberly

      Thank you for letting me know. I hope and trust that your website is creating the safe place that so many of us have needed and/or continue to need. So glad I can be part of that.

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