By Melinda Denton
“She came right away." This was the text I received a few weeks ago that wrecked me. It brought tears to my eyes and broke open some old, bitter wounds. A sweet friend of mine was in an accident and upon finding out, I asked how I could help her as she recovered from her injuries. She told me not to worry. Her mom was driving over 3 hours to be by her side and care for her. Her mom rushed to her daughter out of concern, love, and compassion and she probably didn’t even think twice about doing so. It was simply in her nature - “She came right away.”
I am the third of four daughters born to teenage parents. When our parents divorced, we all four went to stay with my mother. She was an alcoholic and did not make the best decisions for us. As a result, we lived in some pretty horrific conditions. My oldest sister Jamie became our caretaker. She scraped together whatever food she could find and provided for us. She was only 7 years old when she became the woman my mother couldn’t be.
Child Protective Services intervened when a neighbor noticed our negligence and we were sent back to our father. My mother was granted supervised visitation and she visited us for a short time. But when I was 5, she walked away forever. I had the opportunity to meet her when I was 18 but out of bitterness and anger, I denied myself that chance. She died a few weeks later at the age of 40 of a brain aneurism. My chance was gone. Her chance was gone.
In a time when society is trying to redefine male and female, family structure and the definition of father and mother, there is much truth to be said about a mother's character. A mother is your closest confidante; she’s there at the hospital with you when you deliver your children and up through the night with you those first exhausting weeks. She’s present when post-partum depression paralyses you, and she’s crying with you when you receive that diagnosis you just can’t process. She’s a mentor and a best friend at the same time.
Most importantly, she endures. Women are fiercely strong. What can’t we accomplish? (Esther 4:5) These qualities of a mother tell us something crucial about God’s character considering we are all made in His image. As true as this is, why do some mothers abandon their children? Are their children simply too difficult? This is a question I have asked myself for 30 years. Was there something inherently wrong in my mother’s nature to make her walk away from her four daughters?
Disclaimer: I would like to clarify that adoption does not equal abandonment. The birth mother didn’t abandon her child: she actually showed incredible affection and courage to give her child to parents who were ready to love the child, and were in a better position to care for them.
So here we are at another Mother’s Day. Can I be honest and tell you how much I don’t like this holiday? There! It’s out there! I’m putting myself out on a limb here by saying my true and unpopular feelings about this day. We all have "those" people in life...you know the ones. The people who you open up to and they remark, “At least you still had your dad.” Or “It could have been worse.” Or, “At least you have one child to hold." “Those” people are the ones who have an opinion about everything and dismiss your feelings as unimportant. You just want to punch them in the nose and wish they could for one second feel the pain of being unloved by the one person who was actually supposed to love them most!! Ouch! That’s not a nice thought and I really shouldn’t go there but sometimes the truth is, I do. So to the sanctimomies out there, you may want to duck.
Abandonment makes friendships with women extremely difficult. When your first and most trusted friend leaves you, walls of stone are built around your heart. Out of fierce independence, I felt women were not only unnecessary in my life, I felt they were damaging and hurtful as well. When you go through puberty, that horribly awkward middle school phase, your prom, graduation, wedding day, the birth of your child, the loss of a child, or two, or three, or four…you feel like women are not important and you need to do life all on your own. What a lie! The truth is that we thrive in community and mentorship! (Proverbs 13:20) I highly recommend mentorship as I have found that breaking down walls with older women was a necessity in my healing journey. I am so thankful for my girlfriends who let me borrow their mothers. You heard me! I am a mother-borrower and I am unashamed. As you can see, the Lord has done a miraculous healing in my heart!
I’ve shared my story, but I know I am not alone. There are other women who hurt on Mother’s Day and I want to acknowledge you. To the anxious girl who is reading this, please be encouraged today. It is okay to vocalize your grief. (Romans 12:15) The enemy would like us to be isolated and push down all of our emotions. There is freedom in leaning on other believers in times of great distress. I am challenging all of you who are grieving to find a friend to connect with. Can you be real with someone? Can you be true to yourself and stop carrying this burden around? Can you stop stuffing the pain?
On this Mother’s Day, do you need to grieve:
- The child you never had
- The baby you placed for adoption
- The perfect child who was born into heaven
- The abortion that haunts you
- The baby you never held
- The child who you spend your nights worrying you are failing
- The prodigal child
- The child who ended their life
- The mom who ended her life
- The mom whom you have no relationship with
- The mother whom you loved but could not love you
- The mom you lost too soon
- The mom who left you
- The mother who is slipping away
- The mom whose standards for you are unrealistic
- The mom you try so hard to live up to
- The mother who has forgotten you due to disease
There are no cards or sentiments that can be purchased at the store to brighten this day for you. For all of you who are struggling, I want to speak some truth into you. Those grievances listed above do not define you. Your identity is in Christ Jesus alone and His blood can cover your life’s circumstances today. Invite the Prince of Peace to reign supreme in your heartache today. The Holy Spirit can and will fulfill every need. There is not one painful situation our God cannot relate to.
To those of you who, like the friend who texted me, can say you have a mom who would drop everything to be at your side at a moments notice, I’m going to challenge you too. Recognize you have a true gift in your life. That precious woman, no matter how irritating she can be, is irreplaceable. If your mother is still living, I urge you to reach out her in a thoughtful way this Mother’s Day.
- Tell your mom how special she is to you
- Show her your appreciation through encouraging words
- Hug her, and I mean, really hug her
- Share some wisdom she imparted to you
- Reconcile if you are estranged (exception: abuse)
- Send out a white flag of compromise if you are at odds
- Stop complaining about her (at least for a day)
- Reminisce with her
I also challenge you to pray for the women in your life who are grieving this Mother’s Day! Could you connect with one of them to let them know you care for them and you’re thinking about their pain? Can you comfort a friend today?
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Despite any grief, I want to honor all of the incredibly courageous, strong, and beautiful mothers out there today. You are beautiful Proverbs 31 kind of girls and your families are so blessed. You challenge me to up my game and nail this whole parenting thing. I also want to honor all the mothers whose children are in Heaven. The pain you have endured is much greater than the temporary discomfort of childbirth. No matter how many children you have here on earth or in Heaven, know you are a mother to each and every one of those babies. Love you all!
PS: If you have an awesome mom, would you consider sharing her? If you are a mom, would you consider being a mother to many?
About Melinda Denton
Melinda and her husband, Jason, live in the DFW area with their 10 year old son and their 1 year old miracle baby girl. They both own and operate a technology consulting firm. She not only is busy with their company but also home schools their son all while keeping the baby girl alive and loved. Both Melinda and Jason have the biggest hearts. They love and serve in their local church, that is how I know Melinda. She is the friend that has the guts to say the thing that you may actually be thinking and she has the best laugh. Melinda inspires and is a breathe of fresh air in my life. The Lord has gifted her with a heart as big as Texas. She does not pretend and has a deep, authentic, and pure love for the Lord. She is as sweet as a lamb but in her prayer closet she is a giant warrior, a roaring lion. I am honored that she shares with us from a sacred piece of her heart about Mother's Day. She has a something in this post for everyone. To all who read this, your feelings are important and honored here. - Jamie