"Forgotten Mothers" by Jenna Skalicky

“Forgotten Mothers” 
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have sent my cards and expressed my deep love and thanks to those mothers closest to me. 
I will wake up on Sunday and may or may not be able to make the daunting trip into church where I will not be able to pretend that I fit in. 
I will cry on the way home, if I go. I will cry while I make lunch. I will cry when I watch TV and I will cry when I make the drive to get my comfort coffee. I will put on my rainbow stripe socks, drink tea, and eat ice cream…and I will cry.
I will cry for myself as I have prayed and tried and waited and begged and screamed to be a mother. I will cry for myself for on this day, more than on any other day in the year, I feel completely alone. I  will cry because there are no cards, no flowers, no standing ovations, few hugs, and few phone calls for me and women like me.  I will cry.
I will cry for the other women, and men, who feel isolated today, who may avoid church because at times — believe it or not — the church is insensitive. I will cry for those who have shed more tears than we could know yet do not receive a simple kind word of “I’m thinking of you today” but possibly a comment such as “when are you going to start thinking about kids?” or “don’t you want to get flowers on Mother’s Day?” I will cry for the couples and women who will sit alone today, toughing it out. I will cry as I pray for these couples who cry alone.
I will cry for myself, my husband, and the others not only on this day but also Father’s Day, Christmas, baby showers, family reunions, and child dedications.
I do not wish to take anything away from mothers today. I do not wish to diminish the importance of this day and the wonderful and amazing mothers that are celebrated today. I celebrate these mothers today and everyday. I celebrate my mother and my mother friends who are changing the world with every load of laundry, diaper changed, wiped nose, puke bucket held, Bible story told, water fight battled, bedtime kiss, prayer on bended knee, time-out, and meal cooked. 
I also celebrate the women who have taken in children who are not their own as their very own and have changed lives and the world with their selflessness and love. Many of these women have made their own daunting walk into church as an unmother on Mother’s day. My own mother has inspired me.
I only wish to urge you to remember the mothers-in-waiting on this special day. These are the women who have waited, longed, hoped, dreamed, despaired, and cried with white-knuckled fists raised to the sky. These are the forgotten women. These women have tried and been, as of yet, defeated. Let us all together break the silence of this struggle.
Let’s also remember the mothers who have lost their children. Children gone before they have been fully formed. Children lost before the news of their new life has even been shared and celebrated with friends and family. Children who had not yet taken their first breath. Children taken before their life has been lived, before they could grow old. Children unplanned, waited for, loved, cherished, and missed terribly. Being a mother is not dependent upon the presence of children sitting nearby. Let’s remember those who have had to bear the pain of burying their own dear children from war, tragedy, accident, disease, reasons unknown.
There is a sad trend of overlooking or shying away from issues of miscarriages in the church. Please don’t ignore these women or avoid the heaviness of this tragic situation. It is hard and it is uncomfortable. Not ministering to these women, even in small ways, has a way of communicating that this situation is too much for the church, too much for you, too much for God. This was a real life. This was a real death. This is a real mother. It takes an incredible woman to endure knowing her child exists yet having to wait until heaven to kiss, hold, rock, and sing to him or her.

I have often contemplated rising to my feet when the call for all the mothers in church to stand is made. Why do I feel that I would be breaking some kind of unspoken rule to not stand because I have not held my child? Why do I feel that this would be unacceptable in the church? Why do I feel that no on would understand n the church community? Let’s take a stand…and stand.
Let’s remember those special mothers who have held their babies and loved enough to let go. Those mothers who have loved so much and given their babies better lives, better opportunites by being selfless and letting go. Those who have given women waiting for children the blessng of motherhood. Those who have chosen adoption for their precious babies, for whatever reason. These women are mothers too and have been amazng selfless mothers.

Also, remember the single mother who does not have a partner to give her a break, to buy her flowers, to take her to dinner, to celebrate everything that she does for her children. No matter the reason for her singleness, she needs to be valued as well.

These women, those waiting and those who have lost and those who have waited and still lost, need your support. These women need your love. These women need to be recognized, loved, and validated as the amazing mothers and mothers-of-the-future they are. These women value life very highly because they truly know how fragile, intricate, and precious life is. These women need to know that they are not forgotten. This is especially true in the church community.
These women need a smile, a hug, a flower, a card, a balloon, a kind face. Silence with a smile can be more powerful than the most well-meaning words. A nod and a hug followed by a short “I love you and I’m thinking of you” will be more than enough to completely change the life of this one woman who might feel that no one understands and she is all alone.
I have been blessed to have amazing women and a truly incredible husband in my life who have done just this. These small moments of remembrance and understanding have made the darkest moments of sorrow and grief lighter in weight and intensity.
Mother’s Day is for mothers. If you are a mother I truly hope you have an amazing day — that you are loved, thanked, prayed for, doted upon, spoiled, and given opportunity to rest. If you are not a mother I hope that you take the opportunity to thank your own mother and love on mothers around you. But please do not forget that there are mothers this Mother’s Day who will never have the opportunity to hold their children this side of heaven, who have had their children for far too little time, and women who long desperately to be mothers.
If you are pregnant this Mother’s Day I am celebrating this new lfe wth you today! I truly hope that this pregnancy is smoothe and pray that you and your baby are healthy. I rejoice with heaven in this new person and the incredible things that needed to happen, the miracle that God did to make this life.
If you are dealing with infertility or mourning a loss of a child, or both, I pray that you would be met this Mother’s Day with understanding, love, and kindness. I pray for you and cry with you, scream at the heavens with you, shake my fist with you, mourn with you, and ask “why?” with you today, and everyday. know this: you are not alone.

Mother’s Day is about mothers. But we can also use this day as an opportunity to minister to women who are hurting quietly, grieving silently, and waiting alone. 
Five Things NOT to say to a friend who is dealing with infertility (from an article I found in Home Lifemagazine called “Unwelcome companions” by Marlo Schalesky):
  1. You’re lucky you don’t have kids.  — if they want to have kids not part of this struggle is lucky or fun. This also diminishes or invalidates their hurt.
  2. Just relax. — advice giving only comforts the one giving the advice. the one suffering feels that their hurt has been missed and quieted. There is no 100% guaranteed sure-fire way of getting pregnant and each person’s body reacts differently to everything. Those dealing with infertility know that there is more to the struggle that just relaxing.
  3. You should just adopt. — adoption has absolutely nothing to do with infertility. people can adopt if they have children of their own. many people who do not have children decide not to adopt. an adopted child is a gift of its own it is not a replacement for a biological child. Adoption is not the defualt treatment for infertility and should not be assumed as such.
  4. God will give you a child. — we cannot pretend to know what God’s plans are. we are not God and we have control over virtually nothing.
  5. Maybe God knows you wouldn’t make a good mother. –this is plain horrible, awful!! My God does not work that way and can make amazing mothers out of all of us. i have actually heard this said to me and it breaks my heart. DO NOT SAY THIS…EVER!
“God has a plan” can be one of the most hurtful statements. yes it is true, God does have a plan and God is in control but when someone is dealing with issues such as infertility this part of God’s plan sucks. it just plain sucks. we dont tell someone with cancer to be happy about God’s plan, why would we tell someone who also is suffering with inertility? maybe because she is still relatively healthy so on the outside life looks good.
this struggle involves more than getting a baby. therer are questions about God’s control, his power, his love. There are questions of value, worth, identity, meaning, and purpose in life. many times this questioning will never go away, even if a child is added to the family.
Five Things NOT to say to a friend who has had a miscarriage (also found in the same article):
  1. You’ll have another child. — we cannot know what will happen.  another child will not replace this lost child or make the loss less painful.
  2. It’s good you didn’t lose the baby later. — a life is a life whether it is two hours from concpetion or ninety years old. death is always sad. the size of the person does not change this.
  3. There was probably something wrong with the baby anyway. — we cannot pretend we know why things like this happen.
  4. It was only a fetus. — it was not only a fetus. it was a baby. and it is lost.
  5. At least… — nothing good can come after this statement. do not even go there.
Please be mindful of how you begin conversations. Asking about children can be a sad topic for couples and women. This may lead to this couple or woman to feel that they do not fit in your community. Questions like “how many children do you have?,” “when are you starting a family?,” or “what are your kids’ names?” can make couples uncomfortable — like they automatically do not fit in the group.

Also remember that a family can consist of two people. validating this little family is extremely important!
Please do not assume of couples who have been married for a few years or those women who do not have children, that they do not want children. Many of these couples may seem uncomfortable around children. most often it is because they do not want to get attached or interact too much for this may intensify their sadness later. They may be fighting tears even as they play peek-a-boo.

Thank you for reading. Even though this weekend is tough for me, my amazing husband always makes sure that we have some fun. Can you imagine how empty the movie theater is on Mother’s Day? It’s great.

2 thoughts on “"Forgotten Mothers" by Jenna Skalicky

  1. Thank you for posting this for me. She really could not have captured the essence of it all any better. I just wish she and I didn't have to feel this way. That it wasn't so. But it is. Thankfully, I have plans to go to Grandma's on Sunday, so I won't be at church anyway. I am relieved. it's true. To not have to be there is a relief of avoiding all the wonderful things that people/pastor will say about mothers. Things that pertain to me, but others don't know it, because when I walk out the church doors, I have no ducklings following me. Sometimes, I don't know which I want more, Jesus' return or a child. Is that terrible? probably.

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