Mother’s Day: A Day to Shed that Thick Skin {a note for the not-yet-mamas and others in waiting}

Hey you,

Pulling the covers up higher on this Mother’s Day, thinking of ways to get around town today without spotting round bellies and minivans and mamas pushing strollers.

This note is for you.

Who is it that knows (like you) how spotting a women across the pew rubbing her about-to-burst midriff could cause such chinks in your heart? This drip-drip-dripping reminder is louder on Mother’s Day. For so many, the turn of a calendar year is marked by more bodies in carseats and more faces in family Christmas pictures while your life goes on … and doesn’t seem to move past this one barren season.

Who wouldn’t want to hide on this day — this day of remembering what you don’t yet have and wondering why the heck you still don’t have it?

With an adoption that took two years (not eight months like we’d planned) and an empty womb, fourth floor visits to Martha Jefferson Hospital to welcome babies that weren’t mine were small doses of Mother’s Day pain that happened all throughout my year. My friends’ husbands couldn’t put a cap on their joy and my friends, though tired from surrendering their bodies for the life of another, attempted to engage in conversation in between stares at this child that had “her eyes” and “his dimple.”

Baby2 MJ

That special walk of shame back to my elevator elicited one of two responses in me. I would either thicken my skin, that served as a wall between this reminder that someone else had what I didn’t and my aching insides, or I would melt.

When my skin was thick, she — that new mama — became my focus and her words, arrows. My thoughts went unfettered and I had a sensitive radar for comments like “best moment of my life” and “my body was made for this.” I tried to place myself in the mind of God and wondered what was it about her that was different than me.

Why, God? I’d say in bitter desperation.

Why was she blessed and I was, seemingly, cursed?

Why couldn’t You cause me this pain in a vacuum —  just me, my barren womb, and You to sort through this?  Hospital visits and Mother’s Days and birthdays when me and my womb got older (while the bedrooms of our house were still empty) were what rubbed that wound raw. People. Silly things that well-meaning friends flippantly said wanted to haunt me for years. I would gain a fresh grid for this seemingly-endless waiting room, only to walk outside of my private time in God and have an interaction that would tempt me to take big heart-steps backwards.


The first wound was from my barrenness and the second was from those who had what I didn’t.

Windows MJ

Thick skin made my barrenness bleed.

But there were times, increasingly so as months turned into years and years neared a decade, that my skin had worn thin and the wall between the reminder that someone else had what I didn’t and my aching insides, tore. It was then that the doors on the elevator to the fourth floor of Martha Jefferson Hospital would shut and I’d melt.

Melt in front of Him and melt at the sight of them, these mothers, reminding me with their Mother’s Day corsages and perfectly rounded bellies and hospital gowns covering scars — ones that didn’t seem to penetrate as deep as mine.

Why God? I’d say in pain, not bitterness.

Why another month? Why another year? What is it in me that makes her seem favored and me feel forgotten — again?

Instead of formulating theories and plaguing my soul with comparison, I’d let myself ache. I’d let the pain of another’s gain soften me. Her well-meaning words didn’t, then, need to sting for years thereafter. They just needed to penetrate enough to make my heart weak and soft and broken before God.

Where having thick skin towards my loss hardened me, letting my heart melt before God (and sometimes even before the very one that had what I didn’t) grew my inner life in Him.

That very act of melting scooted me right up there, to the foot of His throne, to let my sloppy tears and unhinged grief pool at His feet. The weakest version of me incited a brush with the place in Him where strong meets tender. (And you can’t walk a way from a brush with that side of God unchanged.)

Window MJ

So, you — not-yet-mama or woman with the closet full of dated bridesmaids dresses or the one whose husband doesn’t even know to rally the troops to celebrate you on Mother’s Day. You with the wayward child who won’t be showing up with flowers: don’t waste today with thick skin.

The round bellied mamas and the beautiful brides and the friend who “stole” your promotion will also have their chance at thwarted outward dreams and an inner life that is vibrant — awake  — in love with God.


We always have a choice about where we’ll land when life doesn’t work for us: cynical, bitter and jaded or … broken-heartedly hopeful, hungry-for-more-of-Him and alive.

This day is your chance to choose where you want to end. To land. Then work backwards.

Let yourself feel the wound — to allow another’s moment of celebration remind you of what you don’t have.

So that you might melt.

Right there at His feet.

And find the gentle, all-knowing eyes of the God who has witnessed every minute of your waiting.

(Days, rolling over to months or even years, of becoming familiar with those eyes will make it all worth it. I promise.)

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.

For Your Continued Pursuit (verses to accompany melting-tears): Psalm 18:4-6 | Hosea 2:14-20 | Psalm 34:17-22 | John 14:16 | Philippians 3:7-11