When Mother’s Day Wasn’t

Today millions of moms woke up to hand-drawn cards and beautiful flowers, breakfasts in bed and cute little “What I Like Best About my Mom” papers from school. Moms woke up to the pleasure of the kids doing the dishes, and the distinctive taps of their tiny baby’s feet as they wiggle and turn in the womb. Moms woke up excited for this day and the joys it would hold, but what if you didn’t?

What if your story does not look like the Mother’s Day version written in the Hallmark cards? What if you woke up with an aching hole in your life from your mother passing away? What if you woke to the sight of all the days crossed off on the calendar that you had not conceived, or a counter full of needles and liquids, a longing attempt at being a mama? What if you saw your child’s beating heart on a screen, but never got to hold them in your arms? What if you have to share your children with another adult, and they do not get to be with you today? What if your child is grown and this date sends you counting the days since the last time they have wanted to be around you? What if you wanted to hide under the covers because you were so weary of the arguing and fighting? What if you do not know where your child is? What if the children you sacrifice so much for forgot it was Mother’s Day? What if you cradled your child as they drew their last breath; what then of Mother’s Day?

To the ones that woke up today and had tears and sorrow and grief… I see you. I hear the loud crack of your heartbreak as you wake up hurting on a day that is supposed to elicit such joy. I hear the echo of the emptiness where you grasp for what was once in your arms, or what you hoped would be. I understand your sadness and shame when instead of an Instagram perfect breakfast in bed, you are met with harsh words and an ungrateful attitude. I see the tally of all the hours you have spent pouring your very lifeblood into the littles in your life, only to have your circumstances not look like you dreamed they would. I hear the deafening silence as you sit at a familiar grave sight.

I hear you and I see you and I want you to know that you are not invisible. I know that the hard, painful threads of your story can be woven into something more beautiful than you have thought to imagine. I know that the One who holds your shattered heart is big enough to put it back together again. I know that this day brings a burden heavy to carry, but I also know that your current situation does not have to be the end.

Choose to feel those hurts and be transformed into the gentle, compassionate human that you are capable of. Choose joy and life and hope and know that even on this hard day that challenges your motherhood, you are created for something beautiful. Believe that.


Mother’s Day Remixed

For days my kids and I chatted about what we would do on Mother’s Day. Sleep in…snuggle up to breakfast in bed… go out to a favorite lunch after church…stay in playing board games… go out to explore the beauty of a new park.

All week I had been hearing the excitement of my littlest guy as he earned his own money to create a project at school that his whole class were each making for their moms. When he came home from school Friday holding a beautiful flowered gift bag he was vibrating with excitement over getting to give it to me on Sunday.

Friday afternoon we got a call that would demolish all of our weekend plans. Ever since my shunt revision surgery nine weeks ago I have been fighting infection in one of my incisions. My neurosurgeon has kept in close contact with me as I know have done multiple rounds of antibiotics to try to clear it up, and sent regular photos of my incision to document its progress. Unfortunately on Friday it was obvious the infection has gotten much worse and was not responding to the antibiotics. It is a dangerous place for it to be located as there is a very small distance from the end of the tube to my brain. We have given ample opportunity for it to heal itself to avoid further intervention, but Friday it became obvious that my neurosurgeon was going to have to step in.

My kind and gracious neurosurgeon requested that I drive to Indianapolis to be admitted through the emergency room. They would immediately start IV antibiotics and plan to take me to surgery Monday to remove more of the shunt tubing and hopefully eradicate the infection. My heart sank at the thought of another surgery, but most of all at the thought of being far from my family again.

It felt like I had a boulder in my stomach when I sat Colby down to tell him the news. As expected, his face dropped as I told him I would no longer be home for Mother’s Day. He sat with his chin in his hands and big tears silently rolled down his cheeks. “This’ll is the worst Mother’s Day ever, Mom.” I had to agree. It was heartbreaking to see his grief over being able to plan a special day for me. We decided we would have a welcome home/Mother’s Day celebration on the day I get released from the hospital, so he was given the option to give me his gift before I left for surgery or to save it for when I came home. He said he wanted to give it to me now so that I could take it with me to the hospital.

My heart will forever have captured the picture of him walking into the room so carefully and proudly holding the flowered gift bag that he had chosen for my gift. He sat by excitedly as I unwrapped it. Tucked inside was a small wooden frame carefully decorated in butterfly and flower stickers, and holding an adorable photo of my precious eight-year-old, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The tears hung in my throat as I lavished thanks on him and gave him all the hugs and kisses. It was the most thoughtful gift ever. He made sure I had room to take it with me to the hospital.

My sweet girl Baylie also gifted me: a delicate necklace with the word “Hope” on it. Boy does she ever know!

Late that night Mark took me to the store and I picked a small gift for each of my kids so that they would have something from their mama for Mother’s Day. It was so special the next morning to be on the phone with them as Mark handed them each their gift from me. Loneliness and disappointment turned into excitement and smiles as they each opened something from their mama 110 miles away, but right there with them at heart. It was not the Mother’s Day we imagined, but we found the grace to make it something special and memorable, and we still have a Mother’s Day celebration day to look forward to upon my arrival home.

My sweet boy Jacob surprised me yesterday and drove the whole two hours here to spend some time with me. I can’t even express my gratitude at how much it uplifted my spirit. These sweet babes have touched their mama’s heart in ways they’ll never comprehend.

Last night after Jacob left I had the kindest hospital tech taking care of me. He asked me about my kids and listened as I raved about them. He then sneaked off and brought me a delicious chocolate chip cookie, that I believe were supposed to be just for the staff! “Happy Mother’s Day,” he said. “I’m sorry you’re spending it here.”

It truly is each small kindness and bit of grace that keeps me going.

Today Mark will come down to Indianapolis to be with me as I’m taken to surgery. I’d greatly appreciate your payers for all to go well, and for there to be no more complications, only healing from this point forward.

Thank you for being my people and standing in my corner to hold my hands up when I’m too weak. It means so much to know I have an army of people behind me on the hardest of days.


Hard Fight

I am here.

Head down, fighting hard over a perilous week, but still crawling to stand to chant the victory cheer.

It’s going to take some time for me to recover, but I will get there. In my quiet spaces, know I am deeply grateful for every kind word, thoughtful gift, and whispered prayer. You are my people.

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!


Someday. A letter to my children.

There has been a lot of praise this week for the Mothers. I love and cherish each and every “you’re the best mom in the world,” but I can’t help but wonder what my kids will remember of me long from now. It flatters and humbles and melts me in a puddle to hear them say they would pick me again out of all the moms, but I hope they know that I am equally aware of the holes I have left them.

Someday, my sweet babies, when I’m no longer here to look over your shoulder or come running from another room, I hope you remember that I absolutely loved being your mom. I hope you believe me when I say that you were my world. I hope you remember all the silly times and happy times and treasured memories we made, and that they bring a smile to your face every time you think on them. I hope you remember the sad and the hard times too, but I hope what you remember about those times is that we made it through. We didn’t always have the answers, and maybe we didn’t always choose the best choice, but we stuck together and we looked to Jesus, and we kept on pushing forward until things got a little easier. I hope you remember that in the sad times you still brought me much happiness.

I hope that you know how keenly aware I was of my mistakes. I hope you’ll forgive me for them; for being too protective, too selfish, too impatient, too narrow-minded, too angry… I hope you believe that I was doing the best that I could at the time. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing.

I pray that you not only forgive my mistakes, but that you learn from them and carry into your own families a deeper knowledge and a better way than I had. I hope you’ll carry some of me too; like getting up early to make a big Sunday breakfast and singing at the top of your lungs like you just don’t care.

Please forgive me for the empty spots I left and the hurts I caused. I know they are there. Forgive me for not being brave enough and humble enough and wise enough to always see them. I so desperately hope that there will be strong and meaningful people in each of your lives who can speak truth and strength to where I gave you weaknesses, and you will discover yourselves more whole.

Each one of you were the most precious, unimaginable gifts to me. I could never have dreamed of being given such blessings as you. You rocked my world and colored it and made it full of laughter and music and fun, and I could never have lived such a magnificent life without you.

Thank you for teaching me to look outside of myself; to relax, to trust, to slow down and enjoy, to take risks, to fight, to have courage and hope and ambition. I hope that the string that I gave you is enough to hold onto and run into the world; exploring and learning and conquering and becoming everything you dream you can possibly be.

I hope you will feel glad that I was your mom. I hope you can keep the good parts of me and ditch the bad, and keep making an infinite number more of the best of yourself.

You are my children; you made me a mama. Showed me how strong and how flexible and how silly and how important I could be, and it was incredible.

I love you each; from the bottom of the ocean, to the top of the sky.




For the Mamas. And everyone who ever came from one.

No thing in life has ever made my heart beat so proud, so fierce, so gentle, so unequivocally bursting with the highest and lowest of all emotions as being a mother does.

It has made me so many things. I have been the young teenage mother, naive and unsuspecting. The energetic working mom, balancing a career while serving growing little hearts at home.

I have been the expecting mother, dancing over a positive pregnancy test, and the would-be mother staring in disbelief at an ultrasound screen that has gone silent. I have been the adoptive mother, gathering the seeming endless trail of papers required to welcome a lonely heart Home, and I have been the foster mom who had to say goodbye with a desperate prayer for a loving mother to come.

I have been the woman struggling with infertility and avoiding going out in public for the pain of seeing maternity clothes and new babies. I have been the mother of a perfect natural delivery and of an unplanned and frightening c-section.

I’ve been the mother pleading for a miracle over a quiet hospital bed, and the mother staring down a deep gash in the earth where my child would be buried.

I’ve been the homeschooling mom, and the mom that packs lunches before the early morning school bus. The mom who cheers and waves and beams with pride, and the mom who aches over the heart of a wayward child. I have been the mama supported by a loving husband, and the single mom trying to hold it all together through long deployments.

I have been the mother who delights in adventuring and the thrill of trying new things, and the mother who grieves over being too ill to make it out of bed.

I have been enough to know that there is no “right way” to mother, and that we are all just doing the best we know how, and that the one thread that runs common among all mothers and would-be, have-been, and almost-mothers is the unbreakable thread that formed when we realized we could or would or had to belong to something smaller but greater than ourselves. Something that held the power to provide us with our greatest, most intense moments of joy and fulfillment, and also the lowest depths of grief and insecurity.

If you are a mother, have a mother, know a mother, want to be a mother? That’s something. That is one ridiculously terrifying and exuberantly thrilling job description that no one really lets you in on until you’re in the thick of it. And this world needs you and your desperate love and reckless hope and selfless ambition to keep the heartbeats of all of us thrumming to find our places and our purpose in this crazy life.

I leave you with this…

We all have come across people in life that tend to make us feel better about ourselves and how we are doing. It’s human, it’s our nature to compare. So imma give you a free “feel pretty super good about yourself” right now, or at least next time you’re wondering if you’re the only mom who does these things you will know you’re not alone.

I have been at this mothering thing for 15 years and 11 months. I have most definitely done one and all of the following, some of them on more than one occasion:

1. I have *actually* pulled over and made a kid get out and walk the rest of the way home.

2. I have let (begged?) my children to stay home from school because I was too exhausted to drop them off and pick them up.

3. I have mistaken one of their adorable drawings of a person or a flower for something completely unrelated and crushed their little spirits.

4. I have let my children have cereal for dinner and dessert for breakfast.

5. I have pretended to make a call and given them the “oh sorry honey, they didn’t answer,” when I couldn’t fathom adding one more friend or activity to our day.

6. I’ve been distracted when I was supposed to be watching their super-coolest thing and missed it and told them how amazing and incredible they were anyway.

7. I have gone to bed before my children and told them to remember to tuck in the little one and then turn out the lights.

8. I have forgotten it was picture day at school and been reminded by a portrait of haphazard hair and a tacky two-years-outgrown T-shirt with an obnoxious graphic on the front.

9. I have spent endless time on meal plans and grocery shopping and stocking up on all the good stuff and then been so bone-weary I have ordered delivery or let them eat whatever they felt like anyway.

10. I’ve forgotten to replace pearly baby teeth with shiny quarters and blamed it on them for putting it too far under their pillows.

11. I’ve been late getting them places because I can’t decide on what to wear, and then let everyone assume we were late because of the kids.

12. I have secretly wished that for Mother’s Day I could have a small break from being a mom.

There you have it. Wherever you are in your motherhood, hopefully that gives you a reason or two to feel better about your tireless efforts to safely and effectively grow your little people into productive, well-adjusted adults with very little scar tissue. Just remember, there is no one-size-fits-all-mothering, so keep doing the best you can with what you know. Warrior on mamas!

My kids; here and in Heaven, biological and not, have made me so much of who I am, and I am all the better for it. They challenge me, inspire me, forgive me, empower me, love and accept me in ways I never could have imagined, and I truly am the luckiest girl in the whole wide world for getting to be their mom.