The Real Mother’s Day

My first memories of Mother’s Day are sitting in church as a child while the minister recognized all the mothers.  I remember them standing in recognition of their day.  And each standing mother wore a corsage.  The ones whose mothers were no longer living wore white flowers and the mostly younger moms wore red or pink. It was a tradition in that generation and somehow the men knew it was part of their jobs to provide the corsage for Mother’s Day Sunday.

By the time I became a mother corsages had vanished, but recognition in church on Sunday morning remained.  In my early mom years, I felt funny standing in church as if that role still belonged only to my mother and not to me.  But by the time I had three or four kids, I was firmly convinced of my new identity.

As my daughter Ashley said during her fourth pregnancy, “I don’t know what happened to the old Ashley.  She got lost somewhere along the way.”  Mother was indelibly who I was and the vestiges of the old me were now only in photo albums.

Honestly, Mother’s Day was usually a disappointment.  The inherent promise and expectation in a day set aside to honor mothers was never met.  It’s not that my husband didn’t try.  He bought me something, usually it was a rose bush or another plant for the yard, which he knew I liked.  And my kids made me a sweet card or a crayoned picture in Sunday school.  They all said, “Happy Mother’s Day” and showered me with kisses and hugs.  Until they needed their lunch cut up and afternoon naps. Squabbles to resolve and needs to be met did not stop on Mother’s Day.

The kind of honor I longed for and needed in those harried years of selfless, endless labor was not to be found on the second Sunday in May.  Not that I’m against a day to honor mothers.  Hardly.  But really being appreciated for the enormity of service to your children is not possible from children.

What I wanted was a day free from sibling rivalry and a simple, genuine, “Thanks, Mom” that was unprompted by my husband or the Sunday school teacher.  In hindsight, I now understand what I longed for is only possible when your children become adults and finally parents.  Then they begin to get it!

You see, mothering is a ministry to the future.  It’s a very private, unseen ministry.  It’s like a 20-year investment in which you cannot withdraw any of your money until the 20 years is up.  You place your bets and then wait to see the outcome many years ahead.

In mothering, there are moments of glory when you see hints that your investment is paying off, but they are not permanent until the end.  Interestingly, it’s only now that my children are grown that I really appreciate my own mother.  And even so, I really have no idea what sacrifices and worries and suffering she endured for me and my brothers.

Only God knows. He is the One who will give the ultimate honor when He says one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until that day, happy Mother’s Day to all who are in the trenches of that holy and mostly thankless job. May your focus be on the honor to come on That Day and may you raise your children to walk closely with Jesus all their days.

Remember, as I so often forgot in the daily-ness of life, that a mother’s job is laborious not because it is minute, but because it is gigantic. Mothering is the most important calling on a woman’s life.  Mothers can indeed change the world.



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17 thoughts on “The Real Mother’s Day”

  1. Thank you for this post. I am fortunate to have two wonderful adult sons who have brought amazing wives into our family. We now also have 6 darling grandkids. They are all so gracious and loving to me. I am so blessed.
    I still feel the sting of the loss of our first baby, Andrew, who was born early and died after 12 hours. Finally, after 38 years, I am at peace with it, and am building a memorial garden in his honor. The pain never goes away, but it is more tolerable with time.
    This post is a good reminder to encourage women who have lost babies, everyone who has a mother that has past away, mothers who have sacrificed by giving up their babies for adoption, and mothers who struggle with wayward children.
    It’s a hard day for so many. I hope to listen as the Lord leads me to encourage mothers who need to feel His grace.m

  2. Thank you for this post – this is just what I needed to hear this week. Happy Mothers Day to you!

  3. Your words are so very true! It’s even worse when you have all boys!!! I make sure I love on my mom, my sisters and other women. We have to be there for each other

  4. Thank you for your beautiful words, a very good reminder why we do what we do. I was very excited to become a mother but sought recognition in the wrong place, thinking that on that day all mothers must be celebrated as they should. The only important recognition that counts is the giver of motherhood. Because being a mother is a life of sacrifice, unending patience and unconditional love and we do this as unto the Lord. We are guardians to His children to further His kingdom. When I truly learnt to understand my purpose and role I now appreciate who I am in the Lord’s puzzle of life. Thanks for the encouragement xxx

  5. Thank you for the needed words. I’ve had some lovely Mother’s Days, but most of my adult life, this holiday brings pain, from infertility, to being an adoptive mom to a son with attachment issues, to now a step mom to young men who understandably spend their mother’s daddy grieving the mom they lost. I’m grateful for a husband who cares, and a Daddy who grants much grace this day. I’m also very grateful for my mom, who is still living.

  6. This was so on point! Thank you for saying exactly what I needed to hear. Having a one and three year old makes for long days…but as you say, I am investing in their hearts and souls and future. It is already so wonderful to hear my three year old pray and thank God for the “beautiful clouds” and each of her family members. I’m trying to soak it up knowing they will soon be off to college.

  7. Wow…me too.

    Thank you for the honesty – what I refer to as RAWnesty…
    Motherhood right now is trecherous as I am in the throws of teenage trenches.
    …desires for independence instead of hugs, independence instead of interference, independence instead of is such ingracious loneliness I am experienving -almost like I never mothered my own children. It is hard to keep endurance.and stay emotionally sober.

    This period constantly wages war on my self esteem, my thoughts, my emotions…and the commotion of emotions that rage within me as I try to march forward trying tonprevail with teaching Christ values teens that are bombarded by a worldnthat wants to undo or disassociate any Christian comtext into their living expetiemce. Add and mediating that…amd it all adds up to experiencing an anonymity and invisibility that is quite shocking, painful and hurtful.

    Thank you for some sweet reality on the bittersweet which will allow me peace this week in not trying to anticipate a lovely day…but being and maintaining aforward-focused reliance on God’s strength to help me with constant grace to parent…and for me to be focused on Him being satisfied with my process. It is helpful.

    Thank you for your honesty which helped me to feel unity in the struggle and the silent disaappointments that if not acknowledged or shared and assessed… could fester and make some messy emotional weeds.

    I have had too many “careful that a bitter root won’t spring forth and defile many MOMents (as the devil has laughed at the blind spots he maliciously created and got away with) – you saved me from that. Possibly. I am grateful. I hope I don’t sound resentful – I am just being chiseled in unfortunate ways parentally and it is a difficult time.

    I do not know howmothers parent without Christ. He is my “glory and the lifternof my head” but sometimes the head is sobbing miserably and weeping at the challenges.

    1. Janine I am praying for you!! It’s obvious how much you care! May God bless you and strengthen you and may you feel His love for you!! Happy Mother’s Day!! 🙏🏻❤️
      Also prayers for all the women who shared!

      1. barbara rainey

        I agree. Thanks to all of you for your kind words. I’m so grateful my experience is encouraging to you. With Janine I too pray for all of you moms of teens, little ones, adopted ones, and distant ones. God sees and knows and cares deeply.
        Happy Mother’s Day to each of you.
        May you hear, “well done good and faithful servant”!

  8. Mother’s Day has always been a hard day for me. As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a mother. I loved my Mother, and wanted to grow up to be just like her. I always heard that as women, being a mother is indeed one of our highest callings. After years of infertility, I wondered if God did not think I was worthy of that calling. Over time, I have come to realize my infertility was not God’s punishment, but God’s plan for me. His perfect plan. Years later, after adopting children, it continues to be a hard day. Some of my children have had serious struggles, and Mother’s Day isn’t always an easy day. One of my children, with whom I am very close, told me through tears that Mother’s Day is hard for an adoptee when you don’t know who your birthmom is. And so Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for me, as it may be for other women. I want to celebrate Mothers…. and I also want to wrap my arms around those for whom motherhood has not been easy, and around those whose dreams of being a mother were never fulfilled,

    1. Hi Nancy…

      I am so sorry for your struggles. I wanted to encourage you with the Adoption Creed ‘ which is always so beautiful. It says:

      Not breast of my breast
      nor bone of my bone
      but still, miraculously my own
      never forget for a single minute
      you grew not under my heart, but in it.

      Perhaps your daughter you feel close to – and all your adoptees may like that.

      To you, I way that you ARE in a special league…as Joseph was (in AWEdopting Christ, he made the lineage of Christ continue)

      You have adopted and taken care of others who were born to other mothers. That is a special role and a significant one you have taken on and achieved. As Barbara says: one day Christ will say: well done, good and faithful “mother”…til then,another mom is holding your heart today and giving a loving embrace by words.

      Bless you. I will lift you and all who posted here today…in prayer. That the Holy Spirit – the Great Comforter will comfort us and bestow inexplicable joy this Mother’s day. Joy from Him, regardless of circumstances. Sublime joy and awareness that God is pleased with our efforts. And that we will know that with our hearts…He will sing over us as He promises in Zephaniah. Go look up the verse about God singing over you. I think we all need to resonate with that.

      Hope you enjoyed the creed. My best friend growing up had that over her bed.

  9. I agree. We are the teachers and role model. One if the most important roles in shaping the future. Our gratitude will really be from God.

  10. Thank you I really needed this devotional. Your wisdom and heart for mothers and families always inspires me.❤️

  11. Having lost( not really lost she is in heaven) but since she died this year this day is bitter sweet for me just convicts me to tell others to tell their Mom how much they appreciate her while she can hear it! Don’t wait until she is gone to recite your thankfulness & appreciation for her!Thank you Barbara for constantly reminded us of the importance of God in our homes and relationships!

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