To All Women, When Mother’s Day is Hard

Mother's Day painful

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two


It’s Mother’s Day this coming Sunday.

As I get older and walk longer through life, I realize that days that are marked for joy, for so many, are occasions that inflict and dredge up hurt for others. Among the merriment and celebration of some, there are multitudes who wait these days out in pained silence.

As it approaches, I know that there is a sisterhood among women who have felt dread on that day, wishing they could fast forward from Saturday straight to Monday.

My first taste of this truth was on Mother’s Day five years ago. My husband and I were still reeling from our first miscarriage at the end of the past year. The fact that I should have been giving birth in a few short weeks was unshakable. I had no nursery with clothes freshly laundered and folded. I had no swollen belly, no name picked out. The only expectation I had was dread and pain over all of the milestones we had yet to hit without our baby. I knew our due date would hurt; my mind just hadn’t floated to Mother’s Day. Yet.

I remember waking up and wanting to skip church that morning. Growing up going to church in the South, there were a number of holidays you could count on being recognized in a special way; Mother’s Day being one of them, right up there with Easter and Christmas. Normally it goes a little something like this:

Flower corsages are given out at the door to all of the mothers. Greetings of ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ are handed out to women who look to be of child-bearing age or beyond. When seated in the pews, in the midst of service, there is a call:

At this time we’d like for all of the mothers in our congregation to please stand to be acknowledged.

There are smiles, rounds of applause, and whoops as the privileged take to their feet, and often, words are spoken about “the most important job in the world”. I’ve even heard of congregations giving gifts to the oldest mother, the mother with the most children, or the newest mother, making a sort of game out of it. The sermon is often centered around motherhood, as well.

For anyone who has ever felt the sting of these traditions, my heart is squeezed along with yours. I know what it’s like to sit in your chair, trapped in a row of families, among the smiling and clapping masses, feeling six inches tall. Your neck burning. Your stomach at your feet. Wishing you had stayed home. I know what it’s like to angrily turn off the radio, exhausted by one more mother’s day commercial. It was the first of many Mother’s Days I would grieve.

The sad truth is, if you could survey the women in the room, statistically, you would find that there are very few who would be untouched by miscarriage, infertility, broken marriages and families, or death. So why is it so unheard of for these hurts to be acknowledged in the same breath as we acknowledge the amazing work of motherhood?

My prayer is that we find a way to boldly acknowledge pain while still celebrating the gift of Motherhood in an intentional way.

To the woman who is experiencing her first Mother’s Day since losing her mom, we grieve with you.
To the mother who is praying for a phone call from an estranged child, we pray with you.
To the woman who feels no call into the role of motherhood, we celebrate you.
To the mother who grieves her child lost to stillbirth, although her living children gather around her, we remember with you.
To those whose relationships with their own mothers are painful, strained, or toxic, we support you.
To the pregnant single mother, who doesn’t know what to expect and is doubting it all, we encourage you.

Lisa Jo Baker writes that “all of us are called to mother one another”. The beautiful parts of motherhood that we celebrate every year: selflessness, tenderness, caring, they are present in the heart of women, whether or not they procreate. So I should, and shall, choose to tell my friend whose heart beats to save homeless pets that her mothering heart is beautiful. I need to send flowers to one of my oldest friends who pours her life out to elementary school kids every day to demonstrate gratitude for her care and sacrifice. And I will hug my own mama, who lost her own a few years ago, to show her that she is appreciated and valued in the middle of her pain.

Here’s to you, women, who love fiercely and sacrifice readily. Whether your Mother’s Day is perfect in joy and celebration or marked by the putting on of a brave face, my hope is that you are built up by those around you.



RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.



15 Comments on “To All Women, When Mother’s Day is Hard”

  1. Without a doubt – all mothers need to be acknowledged and they need to be celebrated! Mother’s Day is just one day, because every day, they are nothing short of superheroes! So, this Mother’s Day, do a little extra for your mom and make sure that you pick out a pretty gift for her, from The Maeva Store (

  2. well when your adopted your not allowed to have a birthmom and people are pretty mean to you when your adopted they don’t give a dam that you don’t have a birthmom , people can be very mean to adopted people

  3. I was very close to my mother. She has been dead now for 8 years. The is never a day that goes by that she isn’t in my thought. I really miss her and grieve for her every day.

  4. I love this article it definitely touched my heart my mom was never around so its hard for me on mothers day but iam fortunate to have kids and i definitely believe all woman even ones that lost a child should be celebrated on mothers day!

    1. Megan, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother– whether she’s still here and not in your life or not. Such a gift to be able to be celebrated by your own children on such a day– Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  5. Mother’s Day is tough for me because I don’t have any children, although I always wanted them. I am divorced and past my childbearing years. I cringe when I am out running errands or shopping and someone says “I don’t know if you’re a mother or not but Happy Mother’s Day.” I know they are trying to be nice, but it’s just another reminder of the children I never had.

    1. It is amazing how painful and heartbreaking someone’s well-meaning words can be, isn’t it, Christine? I am so sorry for your hurt. I know that your loving heart is being used to care for others around you. Hugs to you.

  6. This was an amazing post I struggle every year with the lose of my mom, grandmother, and also my mother in law that was very much my best friend/ mother in ways! I thank you for this it definitely helped reading it and not feeling alone! Happy late Mother’s Day to you and everyone else!!

    1. April, I am so very sorry for your huge losses– that is devastating. I’m so glad that these words encouraged you. You have a lot of strength and bravery to share with us all!

  7. Mother’s Day is sad for me. Not because I’ve lost a mother to death but because I never have had a mother-daughter relationship with my mom & it’s sad! I never had the wonderful experiences that other daughters have had with theirs & it hurts as much as if I’ve lost her in death. I’m sad that daughters have lost mothers & I know would tell me to make the most of it because you can never get her back once she’s gone but, I have tried. I have a hard a nails mother & she’s hard to get close to. So Mother’s Day isn’t a joyful day because of that but, I am a grandmother now & my daughter is a wonderful mother, so for those reasons. I can now enjoy Mother’s Day AS the mother!!!! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 2016 to ALL mother’s!!!!!

    1. I am so sorry for your pain, Christie– that truly is something to mourn. It sounds like you have a beautiful heritage in your daughter and grandchildren– I hope that you celebrated Mother’s Day in peace and joy, and were celebrated well, too! Thanks for your comment, blessings to you and Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. Thank you for your post. Mothers day has always been hard for my family as we lost out mother at a young age. It affects myself and my siblings to this day. I would like to say it gets easier as the years progress, but I can not say that is completely true. we all grieve differently. and sometimes it is so very hard when those special holidays are upon us, Some of us hold it together for the people that are still with us, and sometimes we just need some time to reflect upon the people that were taken too soon.

    1. Carla, I am so sorry for your great loss. I know that holidays are often a glaring reminder of someone special’s absence. My hope is that you were able to process this Mother’s Day however you needed, along with your siblings. hugs.

    2. I’m so sorry Carla my hearts aches for you,I can’t imagine the pain my Mom will be 93 this birthday and I can’t see life without her.

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