Knowing I’m the mother of a small child, multiple people this morning asked me how my Mother’s Day went. I could definitively say that it was wonderful. For breakfast – not in bed, too many crumbs – Chris made french toast with farmers’ market strawberries. At church, my friend Teresa took Sprout to kids’ class for the first time and said he behaved fantastically. The little bit of marker on his shirt was very much worth it for the hand-made card. In the afternoon, we hiked the Rock Creek Trail, a paved path that runs 20 miles from the suburbs into the heart of D.C. We saw a thick black water snake, ducks, three white-tailed deer, fish, and plenty of squirrels. Sprout loved his perch up in the baby backpack. Instead of a hotel or restaurant brunch, we went to Taiwanese dim sum for dinner, where we got a ton of food for $30, including as many noodles as Sprout could shove into his mouth. It was a Mother’s Day very much suited for this particular mommy, without any of the commercial trappings but with all of the love I could imagine.
But as lovely as my day was, I know Mother’s Day can be incredibly painful for many women. Whether because they wanted to be mothers and could not; have lost children to physical illness, accidents, or broken relationships; or have no contact with their own mothers, this particular celebration can feel very exclusionary. That’s why I loved the Litany for Mother’s Day that we printed in our church bulletin yesterday. My friend Rev. Deb Vaughn, was guest preaching, and I thought it was incredibly sensitive of her to include it.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the particular stories of these Biblical figures, I think their experiences ring true to many people:
We remember Sarai who was taunted by others in the household because of her inability to have children.
All-encompassing God, we pray for those who feel excluded when we emphasis one kind of family as normal.
We remember Esther, who was adopted and raised by her cousin.
God who embraces us all, we pray for those who cannot be raised by their parents, for a short time or permanently.
We remember Jochebed, the mother of Moses, who placed him into a raft on the river.
Saving God, we pray for parents who struggle to raise their children in oppressive circumstances.
We remember Hannah, who loved her child so much she handed him over to another to raise.
Loving God, we pray for parents who have placed their child in another family.
We remember Naomi, who grieved the death of her sons.
God, who grieves with us, we pray for parents who mourn the death of a child.
We remember Ruth, who gave up her family to be family to another.
Inclusive God, we pray for those who choose to be family to those isolated by culture or language or distance.
We remember Elizabeth, who had a child in old age and we remember Mary, who had a child as a teenager.
Ageless God, we pray that as a community we accept people of varying life stages and responsibilities and relationships.
We remember Rachel, crying for her children.
God of justice and hope, we pray for those whose children are killed, and look to a time when children can live safely in their communities.
We remember Lois and Eunice, who taught Timothy faith by example.
Faithful God we pray for those who teach us faith by their lives, may we remember that we also teach about you in the way we live.
We remember other people, not named in the Scriptures, like the mother of the prodigal son.
Companion God, we pray for those who wait for a phone call or a visit, cut off from family and friends by distance and disagreement.
Nurturing God, we give thanks for those
who enrich our lives by their presence
who teach us about your abundant love
who encourage us to journey in faith.
I hope that no matter your circumstance in life, no matter if you are a parent or not, that you have or are able to find a family – whether biological or not – who loves you as mine does. That is my Mother’s Day hope and prayer for all people.