We Catholics believe that a child – a precious and unique soul – is created at the moment of conception; therefore, a mother is created at the moment of conception, too. This is to be honored, to be celebrated and to be held sacred. For many, though, this blessing comes at a price, if it comes at all.
This May marked my fourth Mother's Day. I have three beautiful children: Natalie Claire, Tobias Joseph and Vincent Ignatius. But the day was not like you probably imagine it was. My day did not start with breakfast in bed, homemade greeting cards and special gifts. No, you see, my children were all stillborn.
There are no greeting cards for women like me. There are questioning eyes and adverted stares from well-meaning friends over whether or not to say "Happy" Mother's Day to a woman who has lost a child. Pregnancy loss is a secret sisterhood. No one wants to talk about our children, no one wants to accept the reality that is a way of life for so many of us.
Attending Mass on Mother's Day fills a bereaved mother like me with anxiety. Other mothers are greeted with smiles and prayers, hugs and flowers. Those of us with no children in tow get something less. Even those women blessed with living children will tell you that the infants lost and carried in their hearts are felt more on this day.
During the Prayers of the Faithful, mothers like me wonder if our motherhood will be mentioned. Will we be honored, celebrated, held sacred for our sacrifice – for our love, for our children? After sitting through a potentially emotionally difficult Mass, a blessing for mothers is offered. Does a bereaved mother stand? Yes. We stand to honor the lives of our children. Is it difficult? Yes. But we do it as a way to acknowledge our motherhood in hopes that one day, it won't be such a secret anymore.
I am forever grateful that my Natalie made me a mother. I miss my three beautiful children and look forward to holding them in my arms again one day. Until then, it is my hope and prayer that my motherhood is honored and celebrated through prayers, blessings and, yes, gentle wishes of a "Happy Mother's Day."
Kim Bates is a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Charlotte.
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy