By Deborah Rojas, MS, Integrity Counseling Services — My kids loved to make Mother’s Day special by bringing hot coffee and something hopefully edible to me while I was still waking up. The moments of my pretending to be surprised, the impossibility of actually eating in bed, and the joy of the moment are priceless memories. I still have some of the handmade, illustrated cards. Mother’s Day with small children was a precious season of life for which I am eternally grateful.

If you find yourself with mixed emotions after celebrating Mother’s Day, perhaps you will find this to be helpful. Here are a few ways that Mother’s Day may carry heavy emotional weight: a difficult relationship with your mother, the pain of infertility, or the loss of a child or your mother.  Even so, there are ways to embrace suffering, surrender it to the Lord, and lean into the loving comfort of Mary, our spiritual mother, and those who love us.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta reminds us of the immense value of love in the ordinary things of life. While the presence of sacrificial love is easily taken for granted, the absence is unmistakable. When a child’s need for comfort is mocked, ignored, or suppressed, dysfunctional relational patterns develop. Trust becomes a foreign practice. If your relationship with your mother was a tangled mess, then you know the heartache and insecurity from that insecure attachment.

These wounds can experience healing, as we seek to forgive our mothers for actions that were both intentional and accidental. Forgiveness is perhaps the most rewarding and difficult work that we can do to experience freedom from the burden and pain inflicted by others. Have you experienced the grace of God and His forgiveness? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you desire to forgive and surrender the process to Him!

I first became aware of the pain some women experience on Mother’s Day in church as a child.  At the end of the service, my father, a Protestant pastor, asked all mothers to stand to receive a carnation. Then he asked all daughters to stand. In doing so, many women suffering from infertility and miscarriage received love and recognition on an otherwise painful day.

If you or someone you know is suffering the loss of a child or infertility, please talk about your suffering. Reach out to those you love to let them know this is a hard day for you and how to meaningfully support you. Consider how you can celebrate the lives of your little saints and encourage those who long to be mothers. This is an opportunity for compassionate presence and generous, bold love.

Mary knows the pain of losing her Son. A few years ago, one of my dearest friends called with the news that her oldest son had died in a tragic accident. I will never forget the agony of her cry. Love is no stranger to suffering, and Mary generously gave that gift in her presence at the foot of the cross. Holidays can particularly remind us of the absence of those with whom we wish to celebrate. Estrangement of adult children is another often unmentioned tragedy experienced by families across the globe. Love continues, even when those we love are no longer present in our lives, but this is a painful tension.

If this is not your story, and you look forward to Mother’s Day with joyful anticipation, you are truly blessed. Please pray for those who smile in the midst of heartbreak. Motherhood is a tremendous blessing for the giver and the recipient. How can we practice gratitude for these gifts? After my kids brought me breakfast in bed, I usually went to the kitchen to clean up before church.

As St. Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, love is experienced in the ordinary everyday nature of life: “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” May your all of your Mother’s Days be blessed and tireless!