Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

To All the Mamas on Mother’s Day

I remember my first Mother’s Day. Or at least the first time I felt allowed to celebrate. As always, it was a Sunday. It wasn’t on purpose because of the day, but we had just announced at church that we were expecting our first baby. I was somewhere in the seven to eight weeks pregnant range. Our friends were all abuzz with our news and I was just over the moon excited. The gentleman who was passing out the little baggies of chocolate for the mothers handed me one with a smile.

“For me?” I asked, surprised. I mean, technically I wasn’t really a mother yet.

“Of course!” He said, as he handed me the cellophane baggie full of treats.

I shrugged and smiled and said thank you. I mean, who would say no to lindt truffles, am I right? As I unwrapped the little purple ribbon from the bag I felt so happy. A mother. I’m a mother! I popped one of the milk chocolates in my mouth. And then I decided to eat the other two. I was indulging for two now, wasn’t I? Gotta take this mom thing seriously …

My second Mother’s Day, the one where I actually had a little person with me, I remember Josh bought me a big gift basket from Bath & Body Works. We spent the afternoon at my mom’s and ate and chatted. I tried to ignore the fact that I was so sleepy. Micah was about five months old, but nowhere near sleeping through the night. Still though, he was my dream come true and I loved every minute of motherhood. Every sleep-deprived minute …

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Micah, Mother’s Day 2011

The next Mother’s Day, I was almost into the second trimester with our second baby. Josh let me spend the day alone at the mall. I think I bought myself lunch from Taste Unlimited. It was a really relaxing day and I remember feeling such excitement and contentment for this second baby. I mean, having one baby makes you a mother but two? Two is like, real mom life. I patted my belly as I walked through Barnes & Noble dreaming about what next Mother’s Day would look like with two sweet babies to snuggle …

My fourth Mother’s Day was hard. I had just lost Evie the previous fall. A friend told me she hoped I had stood up when they asked all the mothers who had birthed babies since last Mother’s Day to stand and be recognized. I smiled kindly, but only with my lips. Because my eyes told the truth of how I had avoided entering the sanctuary until the question had been asked. Yes, I had birthed a baby since the last Mother’s Day. But she wasn’t with me. She wasn’t blissfully celebrated and doted over like most babies. She was held and kissed and then grieved over and laid in the ground in a tiny ivory-colored coffin. Standing to be honored for birthing a baby since last Mother’s Day was just so incredibly painful. Nothing was simple anymore …

The next Mother’s Day I was pregnant with our rainbow baby. Our sweet Jocelyn Evie. We were only about six weeks away from her due date and I was so anxious to bring her home. We took some sweet pictures in the backyard of Micah, a picture of Evie, and my 30-some week pregnant belly. I felt hope. I felt like my pain was behind me and motherhood was moving forward as it should be. Loss, I hoped, was a thing of the past …


Last year on Mother’s Day, I remember breaking down unexpectedly in the shower. I could not control the tears. I had my sweet Micah and baby Joci to hold, but I wept for how much I missed Evie. I wept for all the memories I wouldn’t get to make with her. And I wept because of fear. Fear that the little baby I was carrying could also be unwell. And, just a couple of weeks later, we found that to be true …

And this coming Mother’s Day? I expect to fully celebrate with the two little faces I smooch precisely one thousand times per day and who call me “Mom” or “Mommy” or “MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!” But I also expect tears. I expect to feel deeply my losses, the most recent of which happened only eight months ago. I expect to avoid the sanctuary while all the standing and honoring and clapping are happening because it doesn’t feel good to be recognized and it doesn’t feel good to be forgotten. It just doesn’t feel good.

I realize it might be the same for you as well. For some reason or another, Mother’s Day might carry a weighted bag of mixed emotions for you. Losing children, losing mothers, dreams of motherhood unfulfilled or dashed, strained relationships, or painful upbringings, these (and certainly more) can profoundly impact the way we feel about this celebration of mothers.

It is true, though, that motherhood is something special. Those who are privileged enough to be called someone’s mother deserve a special word of thanks and recognition on their special day.

So to all the mothers out there actively mothering and pouring themselves out day after day … Happy Mother’s Day.

To all the mothers who have lost children and your arms ache to hold them again … Happy Mother’s Day.

To all the daughters who grieve that their mother is gone and they have no one to call or hug or buy flowers for … I honor your mother and say, Happy Mother’s Day to the wonderful mother I’m certain she was.

To all the women whose dreams of motherhood are heartbreakingly out of their grasp … Happy Mother’s Day.

And to those whom, on this day for honoring mothers, are reminded afresh of their own mistakes, their own painful childhood, their own strained relationships … Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day … to all the mamas <3


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