Mother’s Day is hard.

The four kids in my home had been asking all last week, “Is it Mother’s Day yet?”

They were excited to celebrate me.

They snuck hidden handmade gifts under their beds.

They giggled behind closed doors about their plans for me…their mom.

My heart is full.
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It was Mother’s Day weekend 7 years ago we lost our second child. Twelve weeks in my womb. The heartbeat could no longer be heard. I remember walking around that Mother’s Day with a little boy at my feet and a baby in my womb that was no longer growing. My poor family – how do you say “Happy Mother’s Day” to a woman still carrying a child she lost?

It was Mother’s Day four years ago that my precious grandma, the one my oldest daughter is named after, passed away.

Despite the painful memories that Mother’s Day brings – my cup overflows and my lips speak gratitude to God for the gift of motherhood.

There are not adequate words to express the joy I have in being a mother. The immense thankfulness I feel for knowing my children.

My home is full of laughter and a bunch of goofballs. I’ve got it good.
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And yet, in its fullness, I know there are depths of pain and hurt Mother’s Day brings so many.

I’ve never endured infertility.

I’ve never held a child and then lost that precious one.

I’ve never known a broken relationship with my own mom.

I know for many women, this past weekend was dreaded.

With flowers and cards and pictures celebrating the gift of motherhood….many ache. Many ache for the children they don’t have. Many ache for their own mother. Many ache. Many hurt. And while I cherish the treasures that my little ones gave me, while I enjoyed being celebrated as their mom…I so hurt for those that were hoping to just make it through the weekend.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet.

I hurt for so many women that feel such deep pain on a day when moms are esteemed.

This Mother’s Day I physically ached for my daughter…the one alone in a metal crib with wood boards for a bed. And while I ached for her, I thought of her first mother. A woman I know nothing about. A woman I am forever knitted too – we share a daughter. This year neither of us get to be with our girl. Last year, she carried our daughter in her womb when in the US we celebrated Mother’s Day. Did she know then that their future would not be together? This year our daughter does not have either of her moms holding her.

I have one photo of my daughter smiling. Though it is only a photo, I imagine that smile lights up a room. My heart is broken that her first mother never got to see that smile. Adoption is beautiful, but it begins in brokenness.

I don’t yet know how my youngest daughter will feel regarding how her life story began. But, I know how I feel. I know I want to recognize and honor her first mom. I want her to be celebrated in our home – she gave our daughter a priceless gift. I will get a lifetime to give our daughter kisses & hugs. I’ll get to give her applause, security, safety. I will get to give her tickle induced laughs and pink dresses and water balloons to throw at her big brothers. I’ll have a lifetime of giving to her, but there is one thing I could never give her. The gift of life. Her first mom gave her that and I owe a debt of gratitude on which a price can never be placed.

A balloon, a letter, a prayer and a hope for the mother that gave my daughter the gift of life….every year on Mother’s Day.

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  • Aaren - I celebrate wonderful mom’s like you Ashley. Bless your heart.

  • Candice Forte - Thank you, Ashley, for that wonderful post!

  • annalea - beautiful post, ashley. i always feel conflicted on mother’s day too and bittersweet is definitely a word for it. praying for your littlest girl and hoping she comes home to you soon. xoxo

  • Kimberly Troth - Beautiful post Ashley! I’m so sorry for all of your loss with Mother’s Day. Can’t wait for you to bring home your little girl!! Praying the day comes FAST for you and your family.

  • Kathie - Very sweet! This my first mother’s day we had a picnic in the park to celebrate but my boys (twins) are in the NICU and will be for a long time. So even though I loved being celebrated as a new mommy I just wanted my boys there. We run into people all the time who know I had the boys and want to know where they are or see them right there and I have to pull out my phone and show them my photos. Then they want to know when they will be coming home and I don’t have an answer because we don’t know. They were 14 weeks early each just over two pounds at birth. Right now I just long for them to be home and not a half hour away in the care of someone else, I wanna hold them and calm them in my arms instead of watch them cry through plastic and feel helpless because I can’t pick them up outta that bed. I know I atleast can go see them in person but I feel your pain. The nice joy is that soon enough our babies will be in our arms and we will celebrate many more days with them. Love following your story and now finally being a mommy myself after years of being told I would never be able to have my own kids to having two perfect little boys even early I understand your pains and joys. Stay strong and know many out there care for you and your family.

  • Chrissy - Thank you so much for that….I have had so few words for this mother’s day, yet somehow you were able to give yours to my heart. Thank you and so many prayers for your little one. XO

  • northern cottage - hello sweetie – mother’s day can be hard! As a mom who has lost and a daughter who has lost, one can only concentrate on the moments we’ve been given! I hope your little one will be in your arms soon! thought you might enjoy this little mom print too – http://www.northerncottage.net/2012/05/home-is-where-your-mom-is.html

    xo

  • stacey [whatever is lovely] - beautiful post. thank you so much for sharing. mother’s day is very bittersweet for me too – mostly bitter, really. 5 years ago just days before mother’s day my dad died. last year days before mother’s day i got in a bad hit and run car accident. for over 2 years now i’ve ached to be a mother, and am currently in the waiting process of a domestic adoption. mother’s day feels like peeking through a window at all your friends having a party while you’re grounded and can’t go. :)

    i love following your family’s story and can’t wait to see your youngest daughter home with you!!

  • Alice H - What a beautiful post. Like so many of your others. You are just truly amazing.

    And off subject – your hair looks really good! Perfect length, color, and so cute being curly.

  • RachelC - So raw….so true. What a beautiful gift to give your daughter. The gift of loving her birth mother, so that one day, she will know that it’s ok to love her too. That’s powerful love.

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - This is so beautifully stated Ashley. Thank you for sharing such intimate stories about your life all to encourage and inspire others. It seems we have some similar emotions on mother’s day!

  • Allison - beautiful
    many tears here, many tears

  • Amy - This is such a beautiful post, and brings tears to my eyes.

  • Tammy - Ashley, As always, your post has touched me and moved me to tears. I am so grateful for your beautiful blog. Thank you.

  • Heather - Thank you for such a very sweet post!!

  • Seamingly Sarah - You are so full of compassion and God’s love for others. May that inhabit your heart forever.

  • Esther Cheng - Thanks Ashley for reminding us mother’s day can be bittersweet. May god bless your family!

  • Melissa @ Loving this crazy life! - You’re post always make my heart melt. I look forward to reading every single one of them. I also look forward to seeing what silly photo of Firecracker you’re gonna post next. Wish we could get our little ones to play together. I think it would be a riot! {Hugs}

  • heather - perfection.
    YOU are so loved.
    xo

  • Hannah - Ashley, Thank you so much for writing this. My husband and I have been waiting to get pregnant for two years. It’s the hardest battle I’ve ever fought and Mother’s Day is especially hard for me. You made me cry (the good kind)…thank you for acknowledging *me* this mothers day. And what a beautiful heart you have and what an amazing tradition for your youngest. Your grace amazes me. :)

  • tracy a - thanks for sharing this Ashley. I remember so clearly standing in your kitchen just over 2 years ago, the pain of losing my own tiny child still so vivid. I was so thankful you pulled me aside to share a bit of your story. This post will, undoubtedly, touch other broken hearts. Blessings friend.

  • theinadvertent farmer - On mother’s day I gather my five kiddos close and rejoice in there places in my heart…I also grieve at the same time for the twin girls that were stillborn at 22 weeks that I have not held in my arms for these past 8 years.

    The best mother’s day ever will be in heaven when all 7 of my kids, including my daughters Faith and Hope will get to be not be just in my heart but in my arms! I can’t wait for that day…

    As an adoptive mama my mind also drifted to my sweet daughter’s young, brave and selfless birth mother who had the courage not to abort her but to give her life and then give her to me…a sacrifice I cannot imagine. That is a testament to just how much a mother can love.

    Happy Mother’s Day Ashley and thank you for sharing your joy and heartache with all of us…it is in the sharing we all heal our broken hearts just a little. Much love, Kim

  • Amanda - Praising God for you and your family. My relationship with my maternal grandmother recently fell apart and that weighed heavily on my heart this Mother’s Day. But I also rejoiced with my own mom and many of my friends who celebrated their first Mother’s Day.
    As an adopted kid – I respect the memory you already place on your daughter’s birth mother. I’ve never celebrated her on Mother’s Day. My mom has always been enough. But I am grateful that my birth mother gave me life and that even though my story started out so painfully – she began the journey that lead me to my forever family.

  • Liz - Beautiful thoughts…and so true on Mother’s Day. Thank you for sharing the not-so-pretty truths about Mother’s Day. It blessed my heart. Praying for your little girl to be home soon! :)

  • Siobhan - Thankyou for sharing your heart Ashley , I’m do sorry that this day brings reminders that sadden you and I completely understand. I myself have 5 beautiful amazing children that celebrate me as mom but my own mother is a meth addict homeless and living on the streets no where to be found while I raise her daughter, my sister. I have always struggled with mothers day and pray that someday I won’t but I don’t know if that will happen.

  • Jenni - I LOVE this blog.

  • Jess - Ashely, Ashley, Ashley. I’ve been reading your blog for a long, long time, but this is the first time I’ve left a comment. I’m not really sure why. I mean, I’ve talked about you in real life before, but I guess I never really felt compelled to join in the conversation, until now, because I’ve been looking around for things that acknowledge the stuff you’ve covered here–grief, loss, broken relationships–on Mother’s Day, and this one, from you, means so much to me.

    Why? Because I’m not a Christian, but I think you’d love me anyway. More and more, not just as I read your blog, but as I reach out, and allow others into my life (atheists, Hindus, Christians alike) I realize that there is no “us & them” there’s just us. Did you see the Hairpin piece entitled “What I Meant to Do”? It sums things up much more beautifully than I attempted to do with my own “I hate Mother’s Day” blog post. And then this morning, to finally make my way here, as I always do each week, to see that your sentiments and Simone’s echo each other.

    Just, thanks.

  • Dana - Ashley, thank you for a sensitive and appropriate post. You are a beautiful mama!
    Love, Dana

  • Sarah Crosby - just lovely. what a neat idea.

    my husband and i are too young right now, to adopt internationally but it is something that has been on my heart for as long as I can remember. love seeing your journey.

    i pray often for our future childrens birth momma. i know that a lot of times in poverty stricken countries it isn’t because they don’t want their child; its because they do not have the means to provide for them. i know it’s not always the case, but can you imagine? so heart breaking. sometimes giving them up is the most selfless act they can do.

    thanks for giving a voice to the orphan. may the Lord bless you and your family.

  • Emily - Happy Mother’s Day

  • KImberly - Wow Ashely, so beautiful.

  • MixedMolly - Yesterday, I was thinking that Mother’s day is really hard for some women. Facebook was riddled with gushy Mother’s day status updates. But that gushi-ness is not experienced by everyone. I love that you acknowledged that. I also love your perspective on adoption. Christ is pleased with your attitude toward your daughter’s mother. Preach it sister!

  • Martina - I wrote a blog post yesterday on my first “official” Mother’s Day with a similar title and theme, “Mother’s Day Hurts.” Instead of my first moms day being just a wonderful, happy day, I ended up feeling heart broken for my 10 month old daughter’s first mom, her biological mother, and the great pain she must feel on Mother’s Day. Indeed, adoption is beautiful but is rooted in brokenness. I pray for her and think about her all the time, so grateful that she gave my daughter life.

  • Anne - Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing! Last Mother’s Day our son was in China, waiting for us to travel. Nannies changed his diaper, fed him and tucked him in that day. I am thankful this year, he is home, celebrating Mother’s Day with his forever family. It is a tangible reminder to me that Mother’s Day is not just about celebrating mom, but about me celebrating the privilege I have in raising my 3 boys – just like your most mentioned.

  • Robyn Farmer - So incredibly beautiful.

  • Glenda Childers - Such high and low emotions on one day. I am sorry for your losses and so happy for your sweet kids.

    I liked it yesterday at church, as we honors mom’s we also prayed for those that couldn’t have children, lost children, lost mom’s etc. It just felt right.

    Beautiful post.

  • Kerry - Firecracker had my kids & me laughing UPROARIOUSLY!

  • Jennifer - I feel like you got Mother’s Day spot on. While I am thrilled to spend the day with my 3 kids, my heart aches fiercely for the two little ones I never got to meet. The last two Mother’s Days have come right after I lost a baby in the second trimester so it’s been hard. I take comfort in your words that somewhere out there someone else understand how I can be so happy yet so sad at the same time.

  • Jessica P - I love your heart, and I’m glad it’s full even when it’s hurting. I can’t wait until your sweet, youngest daughter is home with her family. On a completely different note, that picture of Firecracker is perfection. So funny!

  • Laura Chavous - But you have a certain future with your daughter. And the days without her are numbered. So take heart :)

  • Jenny - You have such a beautiful soul. Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Dearest Ashley, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know about your miscarriage. I love you dearly and I am praying for you.

  • Brooke Leigh - I didn’t log on & see this post til now. & even days after mother’s day it brings tears to my eyes. Not because I have ever endured any of that pain, but because I am lucky. My heart aches as well, I hope someday, the void in those who dread this day is filled with joy.

  • Jules - Your daughter has THE BEST faces I’ve ever seen… so adorable.

    So sorry for the sadness that brings memories flooding back on Mother’s Day… but with all the silliness that you shared in photos, surely it makes your heart swell with love!

  • Ashley - Constantly inspired by your adoption story. What a great tradition to start, really cool!

  • Kara M - I spent some time on Mother’s Day praying for my baby’s bio mom as well. We don’t believe our child is born yet. So, I just prayed for her as she faces the brokenness of adoption. I can’t imagine the pain she will face. I pray she relies on God for healing.

    I like the balloon idea!

  • NICHOLE - You are such a kind and thoughtful woman. Your blog makes me laugh, cry and aspire to be a better woman myself. Your baby’s Birth Mother would be so relieved to know her daughter is going to your warm home. I’m glad I stumbled upon you ;)

  • stacey - i can hear your words coming from your heart. that simple fact makes me smile, even if the topic is painful. i adore how you can take something painful or uncomfortable and flip it around into something full of gratitude and wonder! i strive for this daily, but you seem to have it down…thank you for sharing your inspiring words and encouraging us all to shift perspectives! xoxo

  • Bethanyblntn - Thank you for writing this. The Lord always knows what to place in you heart to write about and you always seem to write it so well. I cried reading this but it is heart warming at the same time. Song has two wonderful mothers and she is blessed to be able to have you all, if the Lord is willing.

  • Angela - I read on FB (not sure if it’s true) that the day before Mother’s Day is becoming known as Birthmother Day. Regardless…I love the idea of the balloon you sent up in thoughts of your newest daughter’s Birthmom.

    We adopted our beautiful son at 3 days old…just over a year ago. Adoption is so close to my heart. I am so excited for your new journey!

  • Angela - My husband and I are in the paperwork process of our own adoption journey right now – after infertility and the blessing of our daughter, we are hopeful to add another life to our home – your posts on adoption are very inspiring for me. This post – particularly – spoke feelings I’ve never been able to communicate. Mother’s Day is a beautiful gift in my life, but it brings pain as well. Thank you for saying what I’ve been trying to frame into words.

  • Laura @Ms Smartie Pants - Your honesty takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes, what a lucky little girl to have you for a mom!

  • Esther Shokair - thank you.

  • Amie - I am very much not the mushy sort but this almost brought me to tears. You have such a huge heart.

  • Tami C - Hi Ashley, I’m just catching up on your blog. This is a touching post and I have an inkling of what you struggle with on Mother’s Day. For me it is the 4th of July – the whole country is festive enjoying family, fun and fireworks. I lost a child at 12 weeks utero 10 years ago on the 4th (where has the time gone). Time has healed and given me one more child but on the 4th I get a little extra emotional. I long for Heaven where I pray I will be reunited with the life that began within me.

    I look forward to “meeting” your new little one soon on your blog. Thank you for sharing the journey with us!

  • elizabeth - such a lovely post Ashley. lovely!!

  • anything but LoKEY - Beautiful post Ashley! So well put. :)

  • Madison Vining - Whew, Ashley. I read this when you posted it, and I am reading it again for the second or third time. Praying about how to expand our family next (international adoption, adoption from foster care, another “drop-in” placement from CPO…) and you have me reduced to the ugly cry. Your honesty is so valuable. You have stirred up so many hearts for Him and for His children. Your writing is such a gift and I love to see the way you use it. I love your love for your daughter’s bio mother. Thank you, again, for sharing.

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