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A Reply to My Post Mother’s Day Massacre

Mothers Day smallMy article “Mother’s Day Massacre: A Response to “An Open Letter to Pastors (A Non-Mom Speaks about Mother’s Day)” [1] generated as one might expect a lot of responses. Many called me names, thankfully borrowing most of them from the one’s I provided as an option in my original post, but many others understood what I was trying to say and replied with grace and support.

In it I insist that the growing fixation with needing to take time out to include everyone imaginable in everything we do, like loading up Mother’s Day celebrations with caveats to specifically recognize those whom Mother’s Day hurts for any one of a dozen reasons. The original article features the complaints of a woman who sat when mothers were asked to stand, not honoring her own mother standing on one side, nor celebrating her close friend on the other side, but sitting fixated on her own pain and blaming the minister for “making her feel” a certain way, vowing to make sure that no other woman ever was “made to feel” that way in church again.

I have compassion for the suffering… I really do… but do we really want to foster an environment where no one can celebrate anything without having to trip over themselves with caveats and concessions to avoid every imaginable offence by people who lack the basic human capacity to rejoice with those who rejoice. This is not a “feelings” issue, this is a discipleship issue.

I don’t typically take time out to single out the replies that I get to my posts, but I found two responses so helpful that I thought it good to share them with everyone who imagined me an insensitive jerk. Which I am not. If you don’t believe me just ask my mother… don’t ask my wife though, I’m not sure what she’d say. (wink wink)

Nancy wrote:

I am a 36 year old mother of two and an active parishioner at my parish. I have accompanied four women (sister, sister-in-law and two close friends) during years of infertility and miscarriage. I believe I am very aware of their pain and very sensitive to their feelings. But, I agree with this post. I actually think it is a disservice to people who are suffering to treat them with “kid gloves”. I have suffered in my life. So, in some ways I am different than others. If others ignored this difference and assumed I was just like everyone else, it would invalidate my own suffering. By saying to the barren, “it’s ok, you’re one of us Moms,” I think it actually invalidates their suffering. Now, I realize this was not the reasons cited by the author. I agree with his reasons, but feel that this additional reason my speak to the woman who have responded about his “insensitivity”. A society that places all people in the same category at all times mutes its diversity, ignores both its blessings and its sufferings. I am not an insensitive jerk. Quite the opposite. But, I don’t think protecting ones feelings from being hurt is the most sensitive thing to do.”

Melody wrote:

“When I first read this particular post I had a myriad of reactions. I chuckled a little as I thought of the hate mail this post might elicit; cringed a little at the brashness, and winced a little with conviction as I recalled a Mother’s Day two years ago when I skipped church because I just could not muster the energy to make all the choices that would be required of me that day to celebrate with others. I see that as a core take-away from this post. It is a choice to set aside your own pain and celebrate and rejoice with others. I don’t say that easily or minimize how difficult that choice is; I have been making it for almost 14 years as my husband and I have dealt with this issue. The church is a particularly difficult place to face a life without all the children you thought you were supposed to have, especially if you are a Pastor’s wife. I mean that is what we were created for right? I could bore you for hours with the litany of stupid, insensitive and downright foolish things well-intentioned church-goers have said to me over the years, to include the rather open assumption that I am “barren” (this one elicits a particularly sharp face-palm). I cannot adequately explain what it is like to be the woman not having children in a sea of women having children. My sister has six, my mom six, my close circle of friends are all on their 3rd thru 5th, etc etc. This Mother’s Day? A phone call from my sister-in-law in New York expressing their joy over the news of the pending arrival of their 3rd; my battle buddy from the Army uploaded pictures of her triplets and my dear friend from seminary celebrated the arrival of her first just yesterday. You get the idea~the point is that each time I get one of these phone calls I make a choice to celebrate their news and rejoice with them. Some days I am better at this than others, and every once in a while I hide away and deal with my sorrow privately, but I work very hard to never bring anyone into that circle of pain and allow them the freedom to rejoice around me without limits. I appreciate your post and hope others are able to benefit from the truth within.”

[1] http://drandrewsargent.com/2015/05/mothers-day-massacre-a-response-to-an-open-letter-to-pastors-a-non-mom-speaks-about-mothers-day/

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