A better way to honor mothers: Celebrating the continuum of motherhood

I found an interesting blog about how mothers can better be honored on Mother’s Day in places like church. The author who goes by the name Amy on the blog is bothered when they ask mothers to stand up to be honored because she feels like it can be hurtful to others – such as women who long to be pregnant, women who have lost babies or women whose kids have run away.

From The Messy Middle by Amy (can’t tell her last name from the blog)

“Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.”

She believes that we can honor mothers without alienating others. She offered a nice prayer called “Honoring the Continuum of Motherhood. Here’s what she wrote:

“2. Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

“To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

“To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

“To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

“To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

“To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

“To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

“To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

“To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

“To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

“To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

“To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

“To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

“To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

“To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

“To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

“And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

“This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

“The words may not all be perfect but I do think it’s an interesting concept to honor mothers in all stages of the process.”

What do you think: Have you ever had your feeling hurt in church or other places when they honored mothers? What do you think of the continuum idea? (I sent the prayer to our pastor. I thought it was nice. )

32 comments Add your comment


May 10th, 2013
12:40 pm

“Real women stood, empty shells sat” Sorry….That is HER hang up not going to make it mine.

There can be a number of reasons why a woman is not a Mom. That does not make them empty shells.

Tiptoing around b/c it might hurt someones feelings has to stop.


May 10th, 2013
12:55 pm

Yeah I didn’t like that whole “empty shell” thing either. Not being a mother DOES NOT make a woman an empty shell! Some people are perfectly fine not being moms and there is NOTHING wrong with that!

Damn, I am so tired of this. There can’t be one day celebrating something that doesn’t annoy someone else. Ugh.


May 10th, 2013
1:05 pm

My SIL & brother have been trying to get pregnant.

His office sent her flowers and thanked her for supporting him and the (office) family. They sent them yesterday. Then the person who sent them told her on fb to have a Happy Mother’s Day……

Honestly, we PRAY that they call on Sunday and say GUESS WHAT!!!!! We would LOVE that to happen.

However, we think that perhaps the person is just not aware that they don’t have kids (unless you count the dogs–which they refer to as the kids at home).

I don’t talk to them about being parents or about whatever trouble they have in that area. They don’t bring it up and from this blog I learned there is really nothing I can say anyway.

I will say that they have NEVER stopped loving their neices or being a great part of our family just b/c I had kids and they didn’t.


May 10th, 2013
1:10 pm

Unless the call for them to stand included words along the lines of “because motherhood is every woman’s primary purpose and calling and these women have successfully done that which can make them whole” then there’s no reason why honoring mothers should alienate others. She needs to get over herself.


May 10th, 2013
1:22 pm

Yes, let’s celebrate motherhood by mourning those who have lost children, or couldn’t have children…or “remember” those who rejected their child through abortion. Maybe for Christmas we can hang black wreaths to mourn and remember all those babies Herod killed. For Valentines Day, we can send “I hate you” cards. Let the “celebrations” begin!


May 10th, 2013
1:49 pm

OK, OK. Sensitivity to others can be a good thing – it often is, although of course the idea can be used to force others to behave the way we want them to behave. This woman clearly has a wound, but does she really think it’s appropriate for those who are mothers not to be recognized? Surely she really doesn’t……tough situation, but I for one wouldn’t be in favor of not recognizing those who have born and raised children.

K's Mom

May 10th, 2013
2:20 pm

I like the poem and I like the idea. Even though I have two kids, I can understand why women would feel wounded by the “stand if you are a mom” thing in church. Infertility is often accompanied by a crisis of faith and I can completely understand if you are in the midst of wanting to be a mom and are having no luck how this church tradition can be like a knife through the heart. I do think the continuum idea is great. My dear friend who is currently in the midst of her 3rd round of IVF would never take mother’s day away from me or her sister, but I know hwe heart would love to be acknowledged as being a mom who does not yet have a baby to hold. And I know she does feel totally empty and like a shell right now.

I do not think this idea takes away from those of us who are actively mothering, but also acknowledges those who yearn for children and have not yet been able to have them.

Another in the long line ...

May 10th, 2013
2:40 pm

…of self centeredness and the “what about me” contingent. If the broad gets her fulfillment only through recognition, then she is living a sad, sad life, as revealed in her self-serving “prayer”…


May 10th, 2013
3:01 pm

I’m a mom and would feel very weird if I was in a group where mothers were asked to stand and be recognized. We don’t become moms for recognition and accolades.


May 10th, 2013
4:36 pm

As someone who has watched friends hide pain at not being able to be a mother when others are being celebrated I think this is a beautiful way to honor them.

She isn’t saying dont recognize the mothers. A little empathy can go a long way. More people should try it sometime.


May 10th, 2013
5:07 pm

Waldo reads, Waldo sighs.


May 10th, 2013
5:38 pm

Can’t mothers get some hard earned recognition without someone being offended? I understand the empathy for others who may be suffering…but I do not believe that a church service on mothers day is the appropriate time for all of these other shoutouts. It is a longstanding tradition where I am from for moms to stand up in church like this. Dads do it too on fathers day. To all of the moms out there- have a wonderful mothers day!


May 10th, 2013
6:49 pm

We shouldn’t honor people because it might hurt the feeling of people not being honored?

What has happened to this country? Grow a sack.


May 10th, 2013
7:22 pm

Mother’s Day; sweet, simple and an acknowledgement…..whether in church, home, public venues, wherever. The “dehumanized, gutted, empty shell” reference posted above is a personal problem. Get some help.


May 10th, 2013
8:07 pm

My post got eaten, TWG. Please retrieve.

In case she doesn’t….I ended it with this thought. It would be nice to show some empathy for someone who is writing for HER readers, not the readers of this blog. HER readers probably appreciate her feelings and what she has to say. She did not ask to be exposed to a group of parents.


May 10th, 2013
8:09 pm

I like the request, “If you ARE a mom, or if your arrival MADE a woman a mom, please stand up.” That way you get EVERYONE standing to celebrate motherhood.


May 10th, 2013
8:21 pm

@bgb, check out Proof Readers positions on careerbuilders.com. You could actually be paid for solicited advice. Doesn’t pay much but pays better than non-paid unsolicited advice on mom blog. Btw, as you are so concerned about professionalism, leave off the “Where’s Waldo” reference when applying.


May 11th, 2013
7:43 am

If you read Amy’s blog you learn that on a following MD she did stand in church even though it was a lie. She stood b/c she “couldn’t take it”. Sad that she feels so jealous of Moms. Sad that she feels incomplete. Sad that she feels without worth. I think she needs to see a shrink. Still dont think we need to stop recognizings Moms.

I have been divorced 9 years now. I have not had a valentine in all that time. Perhaps weshpuld do away with all the flowers, dinner for 2 specials and so on. After all you lovers flowers at work remind me I have no one. OR I can be secure that I have worth and just be happy for you.

TWG isn’t envy one of seven deadly sins,? Amy shows why…it can cause bitterness that keeps ypu from beng happy for others.


May 11th, 2013
8:14 am

I struggle with Mother’s Day. I am a Mom and adore my two kids. I had a Mom who did not even like being a mother. Most days she was not pleasant nor kind, unless she was trying to impress her friends. I hear stories from my friends and see their posts on FB, showing wonderful pictures of them with their Mom. I do not have the memories nor pictures. Do I complain that they are celebrating? Heavens NO. I am happy for people who grew up with a mom who loved them and perhaps is still here to do so. I have determined to be a much better mom than mine was.

My husband served in the military and he gets to stand up when they celebrate Veteran’s Day at church. I am proud to see those who have served. Not everyone has done so but we all reap the rewards.

Not everyone is a Mother nor is a good Mother. Those who are good Mothers have been role models to those of us who did not have a good mother. I am thankful for those mothers. We all reap those rewards too!

Today, I celebrate my two adopted Grandmas: Grandma Baumstark and Granny Parsons. These were ladies I met in college and early years of marriage who taught me what a good mother looks like. Both were in their seventies. I also celebrate my sister, who is a second mom to my kids.

Happy Mother’s Day to my blog friends.


May 11th, 2013
8:16 am

I struggle because I read the cards and see the photos and wonder: WHAT was wrong with my Mom?
My sisters feel the same way and we are all adults.


May 11th, 2013
8:48 am

I am offended that there is no blog for “busy dads”.


May 11th, 2013
9:10 am

Based on the complete lack of publc repsect for Father’s Day last yert, you will be getting no public repsect for Mother’s day this year.

That being said, the moms on here that make the effort (and jarvis too) are the kinds of moms that deserve all the Mother’s Day bow-downs they are due.

I hope you all have whatever it is that makes your Mothers Day happy, a call from a child that is away, a small token from whoever that mean the world to you knowing who they are. cat, fcm, mjg, whoever,thank you for your effort in making this blog good for me


May 11th, 2013
9:29 am

@MJG – My mom and I don’t have the best relationship either but I certainly don’t mind or feel “slighted” because of those who do.
Otherwise, I concur with @Fred…


May 11th, 2013
9:55 am

@ Jeff…ty. I appreciate what you do as a parent too.


May 11th, 2013
9:58 am

@Me…that’s it…we can be happy for those who do have a wonderful mother and celebrate the wonderful mothers we may know…even if not our own!

@ Jeff..thanks for being a good Dad and hanging out here with us too. While shopping with my husband in Costco on TH, he had his eye on a portable gas grill. I told him that I would be happy to put that on the list for Father’s Day. We always get him something nice and he has never had to pay for it himself ( i.e. we do not use his credit card). I pay for it or now the kids are old enough to do it. Our son got him a big screen TV a few years ago and set it up while we were gone. A nice surprise! My daughter bought me a beautiful Brighton bracelet last fall, for my birthday. I have worn it every single day!

We trained our kids, about gifts and celebrations, since they were small. Small people can share small gifts that are from the heart. It is not so much about the gift but about the fact that someone cared enough about ***you*** to select a gift you would enjoy. I would be happy with a rose bush, as I love roses. A book would be nice too. I have never had to have something enormous or costly.
I mostly love seeing my two kids and visiting with them.


May 11th, 2013
11:07 pm

@bgb — you are welcome to start a blog for busy dads; however, I do not envision success for someone who has so little to say, and says it so badly . . .

Re: The blog. I feel for her, truly, but I think her suggestion of encompassing of “womanhood” is just plain ol’ silly. She feels marginalized because others may have experienced motherhood, but she hasn’t. It sounds like something she needs to resolve in her own soul, rather than nurturing this feeling of being excluded from the motherhood sorority. Almost all of us have a sense of regret for something that we had hoped for in our lives that didn’t come to fruition. That’s life. Is there a congruent celebration of “manhood”? No? Well, why not? I am also incredulous that a woman who has chosen not to be a mother by means of abortion is included in this litany.

My daughter graduated from college this weekend — both of my children are through college, and launched on the world! My own mother is visiting this weekend for the celebration, so tomorrow will be extra-special: Both of my children in town, and my mother, too. I am so enjoying the young adults my children have turned out to be, and feel so lucky to have everyone in town this weekend. Such a blissful treat!

Kelly K.

May 12th, 2013
3:27 pm

I can tell most of the comments here are from parents who had an easy journey to get there. As someone with multiple friends and family members who have fostered, adopted, and experienced infertility, I can tell you each would appreciate the poem. More than one has told me of similar feelings of exclusion and one had that exact terrible moment in church. (Her faith has gone underground- she no longer attends church.) Count your blessings and try to walk in someone else’s shoes.


May 12th, 2013
4:04 pm

I can empathize with this person’s feelings too and am one of the nonmothers the prayer is meant to reach out to, so I’m in one of those pairs of shoes, but really it just feels weird and depressing to me. I’d much rather sit and clap for the congregation’s mothers than hear this prayer that feels very forced and almost pitying to me on Mother’s Day. I guess I don’t see this as a tribute to all women so much as just a major downer. I appreciate efforts to be inclusive but think there are better ways to do it than grieving for “those who dreamed of lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be” on Mother’s Day. Can’t we lift up those who are hurting and support them daily without shoehorning a mention of every possible relationship with children or sorrows over not having them into a Mother’s Day celebration? A briefer mention in prayer of those who have lost their mothers or children this year seems appropriate to me (my church always does that), but I think this piece is just too much.

Good job...

May 12th, 2013
4:45 pm

…HB, very well said…


May 12th, 2013
7:11 pm

VERY well said HB

Atlanta Mom

May 12th, 2013
9:15 pm

If it is that painful for Amy, she should just skip that Sunday in church. My church did a thing with carnations–one color if you had a living mother, a different color if your mother had passed on. The year my mother died, I didn’t want that color flower, so I skipped the Mother’s day service–for many years


May 13th, 2013
11:15 am

@Kelly K – I’m one that would appreciate the poem but at another time, not on Mothers’ Day. I wouldn’t want to take away from the mothers just to mention the fact that I am not a mother but want to be. It is painful for me sometimes not to be married and not to have children. I’m talking deep down PAINFUL. I question God sometimes, too. My faith wavers too. My doctor told me that my fertility is questionable. You cannot imagine how I cried at the thought of not being a mother. No, I don’t think it is the end all be all of womanhood; I just feel like I am supposed to be a mother. I don’t even have to give birth to the kid. I actually wish my boyfriend had a kid for me to mother. If he and I don’t work out I might prefer a man with children for that reason. So yes, I understand the pain that comes from days that celebrate mothers when you want so badly to be one yourself but it is not the time to focus on YOU. The same way my birthday is the day to celebrate ME, not other people who wish they were born on March 6 (why?), Mothers’ Day is the day to celebrate mothers.