Mother's Day: Friend or Foe


Laura Petherbridge unveils a few reasons why, for many women, Mother's Day is the hardest and most dreaded day of the year.

In 2009, dear friends of mine lost their son to an illness. A healthy 12 year old one day, a week later he was gone. Special occasions such as Mother's Day used to be a celebration for them, but now they trigger tears.

You may be surprised to learn that for many women Mother's Day is the hardest, most dreaded day of the year. My desire is to alert women to the reasons why so that we can reach out to the hurting ones who may never speak a word.

Here are a few reasons why the day can be painful:


Mother's Day is usually painful for the woman who longs to have a child but cannot. My friend Cathie explains, "During our journey through infertility I wanted to escape on Mother's Day. But then I quickly realized it was another mountain of grief for my husband and I to hike."

"However, nothing prepared me for the wave of sorrow that struck as I entered the Hallmark store to buy cards for my family," she continued. "The first tear welled up as I approached the Mother's Day section. I quickly turned and walked away asking myself, "Can I put on a mask and muddle through the minimum requirements? Is this holiday destined to be a reminder of my defective body and our loss?"

Custody Battles

Recently I met a woman who has lost full time custody of her kids due to a divorce. She is devastated and feels like a terrible mom. Her husband has remarried and lives in a beautiful, lavish home. This mom lives in an apartment. She knows her kids prefer to be at Dad's house, which is filled with toys. To her Mother's Day isn't something to celebrate, it's a megaphone that screams, "Failure."


As someone who has worked in divorce recovery ministry for more than 20 years, I've observed the number of moms who abandon or abuse their children has significantly increased. Mother's Day can rekindle the pain, anger and loss of unresolved issues.


Stepmoms often avoid church all together on Mother's Day. Carla shared with me, "The most torturous moment comes when the pastor asks all moms to stand so they can receive a round of applause, beaming smiles from their kids, and a flower from the usher. I sit there awkwardly wondering what I'm supposed to do," She continued. "I've never given birth, but I fill the same role that a mom does. I do their laundry, make dinner, drive the carpool, and help with homework. A stepmom has all the stress, work, and financial burden of being a mom, but none of the perks or recognition."

Childless By Choice

Some women in our society are, "childless by choice." The lack of children isn't normally what incites their pain on Mother's Day; it's the comments from those who don't understand. "I grew up in a very abusive, neglectful home. By the time I was thirteen I knew I never wanted to have children," Janelle explained. "I didn't want to bring another person into this hurting world. I couldn't take that risk. Most women assume I don't have kids because I'm self-centered or that I wanted a lofty career, but that's totally untrue." She proceeded, "It's not that I didn't want children, I actually think I would have been a great mom. People typically don't understand my perspective, so I rarely share. My choice was putting aside what I wanted, for what I felt was best."


Lest we forget, there are literally thousands of women who have had an abortion. For those who now regret that decision, Mother's Day can be excruciating. It's a prime time for satan to stir up guilt, shame, loneliness, humiliation and self loathing. Our job is to point these women to the forgiveness and freedom that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. His perfect sacrifice offers compassion, redemption and grace.


My mom is still alive, but my friends who have lost their mom often say to me, "Love her and forgive her while she is still with you. It feels like being an orphan once your mom is gone." Mother's Day can be a bitter sweet memory of a mom who is no longer alive.

After adopting a precious daughter, Cathie shares, "I do not know if I will ever be completely joyous on Mother's Day. For I know there are mothers who are grieving, including my child's birth mom. Before assuming it is a good day, I look into the eyes of the women around me, especially at church."

When you factor in foster moms, single parents, women who have a prodigal child and a whole host of other issues it's easy to understand why Mother's Day can be painful.

This year, why not take a moment and ask God to bring someone to mind who needs a special touch, card, gift, flower, or word of encouragement. You will never know how one act of kindness can change the day or the life of a wounded woman.


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