I’d like to tell you a Mother’s Day story.
It starts with a wedding, a boy and a girl standing at the altar. They said “I do” and it seemed so simple. Years later when they thought about having children they said “we will” and thought it would be the same. Only it wasn’t. Instead of picking out pink or blue onesies they stared month after month at single pink lines on pregnancy tests.
There were tears and prayers, moments of anger and frustration, loss and a little one that slipped to heaven before even a “hello” on earth. They wondered what family would look like for them, if maybe they had done something wrong or had been disqualified.
Then one night she watched a special on television about foster kids who age out of the system, who are told at eighteen, “have a nice life.” And she wondered who would cheer for them at their college graduation, walk them down the aisle, rock their babies, who they would call when they lost a job or just had a bad day. “That’s not okay,” she said, “Not okay at all.”
In the meantime, God showed her that she didn’t have to be a physical mother to still be a Mama. In Genesis Eve is called “the mother of all living.” All women are mothers, she discovered, because all women bring life into the world in some way. So she birthed books and her friends threw her a book shower. She got to mother women all over the world with her words. She started to heal but there was still a place deep inside saved for someone. She prayed for her child who was out there somewhere without knowing a name or face.
Years went by and she was invited to a banquet at Saving Grace, a place for girls who age out of the foster system or would otherwise be homeless. She met a twenty-year-old young woman that night and she knew almost right away, “This is my daughter.” Her husband agreed. It took time. There were lunches and conversations and hugs and misunderstandings and prayers and they did the awkward dance of becoming family until they knew it by heart. One day that girl, Lovelle, moved into their guest bedroom. Took their last name. Called them “Mom and Dad.”
Later Lovelle met a boy and her Dad walked her down the aisle in a white dress. She and the groom said “I do” too.
More time passed and last fall Lovelle called, emotion in her voice. “Mom, I’m pregnant,” she said. And I almost dropped the phone because this Mother’s Day story is mine. I’m going to be a Grandma. Just last week I sat next to my daughter in another banquet for Saving Grace. I leaned over and placed my hand on her beautiful belly. And I felt a flutter, my granddaughter saying “hello” for the first time.
My eyes filled with tears. I thought of Mark and I on our wedding day, all those pink lines, meeting Lovelle, becoming a family, her wedding day too and the moment I knew that we would be grandparents. Then I imagined what years from now may hold as I hold that little girl—story times and bubble baths and trips to the zoo to see long-necked giraffes. Oh, there is so much yet to be.
If you are hurting this Mother’s Day I want you to know I’ve been there. I wish I could wrap an arm around your shoulder, take you out for coffee, listen long and hard. This is what I know for sure—there is hope and your story is not over yet. It may not look like what you imagined but it will be good because the One writing it is.
If you are celebrating this Mother’s Day then I am joining in with you. As a daughter, a Mama, a Grandma, a woman who has come to understand what extravagant grace looks like. I will wrap my arms around my family today and I will place my hand on that beautiful belly again. I will be grateful, so grateful, that nothing turned out the way I planned.
Proper stories seem to close with “The End” but that doesn’t seem quite right at this moment. Because this feels like it’s still only the beginning. There is so much more to come. I can’t wait to meet you, Little One.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, to me, to all of us, because we are all mothers in some way today. And we are all part of the great story of motherhood God is writing from generation to generation, from Eve to eternity.
photos by Kara Bird