I am an unknown mother.
I stayed seated at church when all the mothers in the room were asked to stand up. I clapped and smiled for them and the little ones by their side, in their arms, or filling out their tummies.
Not many know that four years ago exactly I could have stood up, but that my husband and I lost our little one the afternoon before.
I am an unknown mother.
My pastor stood to give the message. Before he began, he paused and said he also wanted to honor those of us who have not been able to have a child. To honor those of us who are mothers in a different way.
My husband squeezed my shoulder. I didn’t hear anything my pastor said after that.
I wept unseen tears, lost in the memories of four years ago when my story took an unexpected turn, never to be like the stories of my friends. On Mother’s Day that year we sat at the kitchen table, watching our church service online, my body aching and my heart breaking from the fresh loss. That weekend I was an unknown mother.
Might this be you too?
I remember a few days after I lost my baby, my brother and his family came to see us. My brother got out of his car and walked to me and hugged me, saying nothing, wrapping me in his strength.
Just like he didn’t use words, I won’t either. There is nothing I can say to ease the pain that many of you are feeling today. I just want you to know you are not alone.
I often have wondered how our life would have been different and honestly, everything would have been. We wouldn’t have moved to Uganda for 5 months and had one of the greatest adventures in our marriage so far. We wouldn’t now be the resident advisers in a home that provides a family environment for young men aging out of foster care.
Do I still wish I could hold my child? Absolutely. Even though I cannot, I am still a mother. My mother’s heart still lives. I still give really good hugs and pull my muscles wrestling with my nephews. I still paint my fingernails with my nieces. And I most definitely worry and pray for the young men in my care without them ever knowing.
And I still cry whenever I watch an ultrasound or see my husband hold our littlest niece who finds his arms a cozy and safe place for a nap. I still cry, and you will too.
But, in the midst of this day that can cause so much grief, I say to you, though you have lost life, you can still bring life into this world. Being a mother isn’t defined only by the children by our sides, in our arms, or filling out our tummies. A mother is defined by the love held in our hearts.
My prayer today is that the God who sees you would hold you even tighter than my brother held me. Our God understands the pain of losing a child. You are not unknown to Him.
I have included some videos below. One is the story of my favorite hymn, It is Well with my Soul by Horatio Spafford. The other is a newer rendition of it with other lyrics added in.
May they minister to your heart wherever you are on your mother’s journey.
If you feel led to leave a comment, it surely will let others know they are not alone. Let us love and celebrate our mother’s hearts today.