By Susanne Stalnecker –
Mother’s Day is a day set aside on the calendar to celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, and the women who have had a mothering influence on our lives. But, when May comes around each year, there is sometimes a feeling of dread that overcomes me. The feeling that I have not done enough or been enough for those who are looking to me – for those who are looking to celebrate me on Mother’s Day. And, the thoughts that come to mind are, “I don’t want to be celebrated on this day” and “Am I even worth being celebrated as a mother?”
Another day in May that is a very special one to me is the birthday of my older son. The year he was born was very challenging as I found myself pregnant with a deployed husband. We already had a baby girl, so the emotions we felt at the realization of another baby were a mixture of both shock and excitement. Then, we realized this baby would be born during my husband’s upcoming deployment. Once that started to sink in, I felt so alone – alone to care for a barely one-year-old, alone to care for my pregnant self, and alone to manage life with a newborn and a toddler. As the time for the deployment drew closer, fear and loneliness really started to settle in.
“How was I going to make it through this time by myself?”
With six long months looming before me, that seemed impossible! But, I had family living close by, a great support system in my church family, and my neighbor friends – we always rallied around each other when a husband was gone on a deployment or training exercise.
It wasn’t long until we were a few months into the deployment and the time for my baby to arrive was on the horizon. I spent very little time alone as our families took turns either staying with me or having me at their house. And, the feelings of fear and loneliness started to leave little by little. What I came to realize is that the times of quiet and the long evenings alone after the baby was sleeping with just me and my belly were times that God was using to make Himself even more real to me. I sought the Scriptures and the truths found in it more than before – the promises of strength and comfort found in verses like Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” I realized it was not about me doing it all and about how I was going to make it through this time by myself. I was not alone!
The day of my son’s birth was actually the day after Mother’s Day that year. I still remember holding him the next morning and, as I was standing at the window of my hospital room looking onto the hills of Camp Pendleton, I could hear God telling me, “I am here with you – your help comes from me”. That was exactly the visual reminder I needed!
A couple of months later, my husband returned from that deployment, we were re-united as a family, and he got to meet his son. This year, we are celebrating Ethan’s seventeenth birthday and, when that day comes, it will be another reminder to me of God’s promise to be my help. We have four children now and I believe God gives us each of our children for a reason. When I celebrate Ethan, I am also celebrating God’s goodness and kindness to me during a time that I thought would be impossible to get through. Ethan is a reminder to me of God’s help during a time of struggle.
During times that I’ve felt overwhelmed as a mom, the verses in Psalm 121 have continued to encourage me and be a reminder that I’m not doing this by myself. What I have come to understand about Mother’s Day is that it’s not about me. God has given my children the exact mother that He wants them to have and He has equipped me to be who I am supposed to be for them. It’s really up to me to use what He has given me to accomplish that.
So, with that mindset, I let myself be celebrated because my prayer is that my children would see God working in me as I strive to be the mother He wants me to be.
God is worth being celebrated on this day because of what He has already taught me through my children and because of what He will continue to teach me about Himself.