Ode to the Mother’s Heart

Soon it will be Mother’s day. I always thought that this day was mainly commercial: more profit for florists and beauty shops. But the crafts my children gave me on Mother’s day become more and more precious to me. Now they are growing older, those crafts became rarer.

In the church I usually go to, all women receive a rose on Mother’s day. Not only moms, although all children are allowed to give one to their own (foster)mother. All women receive a rose, because they either are a mother, or will become a mother or are like a mother for children or teenagers around them. I think it is beautiful that this way also involuntary childless women are honored and that their indispensable and important role in the community is acknowledged.

Mother’s day is actually an ode to the mother’s heart and this year it strikes me in a different manner. I found out that there is also an ‘International Bereaved Mother’s Day’. The Australian Carly Marie began this day to acknowledge women who lost their child or who are involuntary childless. She started this day in 2010 hoping this day soon would not be necessary anymore. Her aim was to make Mother’s day for all mothers, also for those who have no children and for those who lost their child. For women who especially on Mother’s day feel so isolated, ignored and lonely, while in their heart they are mothers, because they opened their heart for a child.

Some days ago a mother, who like me had a child that died before being born, posted on Facebook: ‘Bereaved Mothersday. Different people pointed me to it. But actually I don’t want to pay attention to it, because it makes us different. I don’t want a special day, because for all four of my children I am the same mother. So, we will celebrate a normal Mother’s day. Post your children’s names below without stars or hearts, because for a Mother’s heart there is no difference.’ I felt the same: I am just as much the mother of my four living children as I am the mother of my fifth deceased child, so I wrote the names of all my children below her message. It felt good. I must say, it made me proud. Because I am their mother, whether they live here, or are already in heaven.

That brings me back to Mother’s day. Mother’s Day was first celebrated on the first Sunday of May in 1906 and was called: ‘General Memorial Day of all Mothers’. It was the year after Ann, mother of the American Anna Javis passed away. Ann had twelve children, but only four of them reached adulthood. Most of her children died. Her daughter Anna wanted to bring an ode to her mother and wanted to do that every year. In 1914 this became an official celebration day and since 1928 it is also an official celebration day in the Netherlands.

Mother’s Day was meant to honor mothers for who they are and for what they do and to acknowledge their mother’s heart. What strikes me is that a bereaved mother caused this day to start. A women who had four children. No. A mother who had twelve children. She carried them, took care of them and buried eight of them. Out of experience I know how hard that is. Out of experience I also know that it doesn’t matter to your motherly feelings if your child is alive or not. I am the mother of all my five children, all though my youngest already went to her heavenly Father before she was born.

Soon it will be Mother’s day again. A day to honor mothers. A day to remember mothers if they are not here anymore. A day to acknowledge mother’s hearts. Hearts that long for the child that did not come. Hearts that are broken because the child that was here, died. And hearts that experience the joy of seeing children grow up with all that comes with that.

For all mothers, with or without living children around you: I wish you a very good mother’s day. You are precious.

First published in Dutch on May 8 2018

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