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As we get closer to Mother’s Day my heart always aches for those of us who grew up the motherless daughters and are now the motherless mothers.
I know how this season can hurt. How it can dredge up all the memories we never got to make with our mothers. I also know there are many who will face this day as one more reminder that they don’t have the kids they wish for. And I wish I could have you guys over for tea to just listen to your hearts and let you cry if you needed to.
You are not alone.
My mom used to dance in the mornings.
A happy, shameless jig in her PJs right out there in the driveway as my dad drove us off to school. She’d dance and wave and grin and I could feel the love well up from my toes to my nose. It spilled out of me – this being someone’s daughter. Loved. Cherished. Celebrated.
She’s been dead now 23 years to the day since I turned 18.
Time passes and with it go the birthdays, love stories, anniversaries, new babies, first steps, preschool orientations, international moves, new jobs, hair color changes. And each milestone is a mile more in the road that we don’t walk together.
I am the motherless daughter.
And three continents and three kids later I have grown up into the motherless mother.
Of two sons. And a daughter.
Everything I can’t remember about my mother I see reflected in my daughter’s eyes. I am terrified by how much I love her. How does a mother bear it? The good-bye. Twenty three years. Twenty three years. It hurts to type it.
Twenty three years ago I sat in a pew and sang the last words my mother left for us:
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’”
One week after I’d turned eighteen. I’m forty today. And I’m still singing it, Mom. I’m singing it still, and I still believe every hard, awful word to be true. That we can sing though the heavens crash open and the world comes pouring down around us. We can raise our eyes and our voices to the hills, where our help comes from, and sing. Even when all that comes out is a whisper.
So many of us make the journey to motherhood without a mom. Whether she’s absent because she chose to leave or because she was emotionally unavailable or because she died like mine did, we all have to make sense of what that means for our own mothering.
I am the motherless mother.
If you are too, can I take your hand?
Can I stroke the hair back from your forehead and just be here with you? Can I whisper, “I know” and let you cry if you need to? Can I just sit a while beside you as you shout the hard questions?
I believe God can take it.
I believe He invites it.
…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26
Go ahead and groan child. Let the part of you that never got to grow up with a mom, never got to bear down with her as you bore down in labor, never got to introduce her to your own babies — let that part of you weep if she needs to. You are beautiful and loved and not a single tear falls to the ground uncherished by the Father God who holds us both.
“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8 CSB
You are your mother’s daughter, created in your Father God’s image. And nothing can break that.
We’re in this together. Every step of the way. And you are braver than you know, for all the ways you mother. Today I will stop, remember, and rejoice with you, my brave, beautiful, utterly beloved sister!
Lisa-Jo Baker’s book, Surprised by Motherhood, is her story of rediscovering her mom through her kids and the Jesus who saved the best till last. Also, be sure to check out her new book Never Unfriended, in which Lisa-Jo shares personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts. Check out our Mother’s Day section for inspirational gifts & cards to share with the moms in your life who need a little encouragement.
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