“Happy Mother’s Day!” I remember hearing at a church I attended a while back, far before I was a mother.

Walking into the service with my husband, the greeters passed out a flower to every woman and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. Little did they know, I was struggling with infertility, and it was a moment full of complex emotions. I strongly desired to have a child, but at that time I couldn’t. 

Even when I finally got pregnant after a six-year journey with infertility—that Mother’s Day with my son still in my womb—I remember asking myself, Am I a mother yet? Is this my first Mother’s Day? Or do I have to wait until my son is born for me to be considered his mother? 

Eventually, I resolved that I was a mother that day, even though my son was still yet to be born. So that year, I took the greeting gladly, especially with the difficult journey it took to get there.

The complexity of Mother’s Day

A few years before becoming pregnant with my son, my own mother passed away. So for years, Mother’s Day was a constant reminder that she was no longer with us.  

I lamented that I would not be able to call her on the phone and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Yet, while simultaneously appreciating her sacrifices over the years, I also reflected on how our relationship had been a difficult one. For me, Mother’s Day has long been a mixed bag of emotion sprinkled with appreciation and tears.

This holiday is often a joyous time to celebrate our mothers and those who are in motherly roles. But it isn’t a happy day for everyone. 

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Some mothers may feel inadequate in their motherhood; others may be enduring postpartum struggles. For others still, the day can be a triggering reminder of something painful—struggles with infertility, illness, or the loss of a parent. The difficulty can be rooted in a broken or struggling relationship. In some instances, a mother may be grieving the loss of their child, struggles in their parenting relationship, or even mourning a miscarriage. 

Complex emotions abound on this day for so many and for various reasons beyond what I have even mentioned. So, what can be done?

In addition to celebrating the motherly figures in our lives, consider those who may also be experiencing something painful on Mother’s Day. Whether it’s giving a call of encouragement, sending a card, or meeting together, let the person experiencing difficult emotions know they are seen and heard. If they desire to talk or express their emotions, be willing to be present. The gift of your presence is sometimes best during hard times. Prayer, encouragement from the Word, and your thoughtfulness can offer comfort to someone hurting during that day.

The God of all comfort

One verse that particularly speaks to me is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

Who can you share comfort with this Mother’s Day? Keep your eyes and ears open and allow God to speak to your heart about who you can bless in that way.

And if you are the one hurting on Mother’s Day, just know that, even if it feels like no one else sees you, God does. He intimately knows you and your pain, and He loves you. As we’re reminded in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

This Mother’s Day, let’s show Christlike love to people, wherever they may find themselves within the complex emotions surrounding this holiday. 

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Chinyere Enemchukwu serves as a cross-cultural trainer on staff with FamilyLife. She enjoys learning and teaching how to communicate the good news of the gospel within various social and cultural contexts. Chinyere is married to her husband and best friend, Nduka Enemchukwu, and together they are proud parents to their young son. They reside in Orlando, Florida.