Mothering Through Loss | Navigating Motherhood Without A Mother
This Mother’s Day, as we celebrate the wonderful mother’s in our lives, we are also not blind to the fact that this day has great potential to bring a longing for the mother who has left us; the mothers who were gone too soon. The sting and the yearning it can bring to our days of navigating motherhood without a mother of our own to look to anymore.
We know too many young mothers who have walked these waters, but today, a dear friend of ours, Saundra, is here to share her personal story about navigating motherhood without her mother. She is honest-to-God one of the most selfless, passionate, biblical examples of a mother we have ever met, and her testimony of navigating motherhood without her mom is one of redemption and faithfulness as we keep our eyes focused on the goodness of the Father, even through loss. Choosing to focus on the gains, instead of the grief of navigating motherhood without a mother.
Meet Saundra, a dear friend, and an incredible mother to 4 littles who call her mama. We pray her story touches, encourages, and brings you to hope this Mother’s Day no matter where you are on your journey, or if you navigating the waters of motherhood without your mother.
My story is one where loss did not have a grip over my journey of motherhood because God showed me how to grieve in a way that I could still see his goodness, and choose to celebrate the gains. I grew up outside of a small town in MI, in a loving, Christian home, with 4 brothers and 2 sisters. I was sixth in birth order. I lost my mother to cancer at the age of 7 and my father never remarried. I now have a wonderful husband and 4 precious blessings (2 daughters and 2 sons) that call me mom.
I was blessed with a wonderful mother for 7 years and for that I will forever be grateful. Losing a mother is hard at any age, but God has always been faithful! I’ve had to navigate motherhood without my mother and while I wouldn’t wish that for anyone, I’m so very blessed and thankful to have had many women step into that role in my life at different times. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when going through hardships or trials of many kinds, but over the years, God has given me the ability to shift my focus. To not focus on the things I’ve lost, but to choose to see all that I’ve gained and maybe even gained because of that loss.
I believe that every mother has been tempted at some point to focus on loss that we’ve felt through motherhood, for me that might be the loss of mothering my children without the influence of my mother, for you it could look like many different things. Maybe becoming a mother has felt like you’ve had to give up someone you once were, like you’ve lost your identity or career or the body you once had. That you’ve lost your freedom, or sleep and time. Maybe you’re a control freak and you feel like you’ve lost all control and the list could go on I’m sure.
We live in a culture that fills our head with phrases like, “treat yourself” and “do what feels good.” While these ideas might sound good on the surface, they cause us to focus on what we don’t have rather than on the many wonderful blessings right in front of us. We’re subtly being told to be selfish and that it’s ok.
Well, If you haven’t found out already, these ideas don’t work out so well for mothers, as they create a constant unhappy/discontented feeling. Motherhood, in many ways, is about sacrifice, but that sounds burdensome, so we don’t want to talk about that. While motherhood does take sacrifice, what we are tempted not to see, and what satan would love for us to ignore, is that in many of those sacrifices or losses, we can actually choose to see all that we’ve gained through them. It is a choice! We can look at motherhood through the lens of loss or of great gain.
Can I share more about my story? While there were many times I would have loved to have my mom around, God was always faithful to provide “moms” in my life exactly when I needed. I won’t go all the way back to when I was 7, I’ll start when I got married. My husband and I moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania. For me, this move was huge, it meant leaving my big family that I was super close with and moving somewhere that neither my husband nor I knew a single person. God put some really incredible mothers in my life immediately, what a blessing! I’m seriously sitting here right now crying as I think of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Two and a half years after getting married, my husband and I were blessed with our first child. I’ll be honest, there was never a time in my life that I missed my mom more than when I had my first baby. I would’ve loved to see my mom smiling as she held my precious baby in her arms. I would’ve loved to have been able to call her that first night at home, in the middle of the night, for her to pray with me, cry with me, or give me motherly advice or encouragement, when my baby was crying all night, wouldn’t eat and I was a tired, hormonal mess. The good news is, we all made it through that first night home. That beautiful baby is an 8 year old now. I just laughed thinking about that brutal first night home and remembering it as clearly as if it were yesterday. Before you start feeling sorry for me, please don’t, I have so many cool stories of how God provided the perfect person at just the right time in my journey of motherhood, I’d love to share just one…
One of my best friends now is a woman that lived on my street. We lived on the same street for two years, just down the road from each other, but had never met, yet God knew we needed each other and He had the perfect time in mind. Our husbands worked for the same large company those two years as well, but also had never met. One day our husbands randomly worked together and got talking and realized we lived on the same street, so they decided to introduce us. When we met we were both expecting our first babies. We both had girls, within three months of each other. That’s cool in and of itself, but the really neat part where God’s hand was so evident, is this. After hanging out a couple of times, we realized we had one big thing in common; both of us had experienced the loss of our mothers. Isn’t God AWESOME?!? He gave me a wonderful, Christian friend, on my street, to begin the journey of motherhood with and to understand each others pains of not having a mother on this journey. That was 8 years ago and this woman is one of my very best friends. God has provided in so many other cools ways, by bringing older “mothers” into my life that pray for me, encourage me, have loved like their own and just speak life over me. I can be tempted to focus on my loss or I can focus an all the wonderful gains.
So for you, you might not have experienced that kind of loss, but have you ever felt like you’ve experienced some type of loss through motherhood? Let me encourage you to focus on what you’ve gained. Surround yourself with people that see children as a beautiful gift and motherhood as a blessing.
Can I share with you what I see as beautiful gains of motherhood?!
I don’t see only the grief of navigating motherhood without a mother. I see little eyes that see the beauty in me when I don’t, I see never-ending hugs and kisses. I see quick forgiveness when I mess up. I see answers to prayers. I see giggles, laughter, and pure joy! I see new friendships and new adventures. I see a greater dependence on God. I see beautiful little lives that we can make a huge impact on for the Kingdom of God. I see God’s perfect little creations that He has entrusted to me. I see children that God chose specifically for me because He knew I would be the perfect mom for them.
This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to focus on all the blessings of motherhood. Let’s not focus on what we’ve lost, but on all that we’ve gained. Motherhood is a high calling and a beautiful gift that God has called YOU to, what an incredible honor!
I’d love to leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
“Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
Thank you, Saundra. Your words of wisdom are impactful to us all. What we choose to focus on, the way we choose to view things, our attitude is what we can control. We can’t control what happens in every situation, but we can control how we respond to it.
Happy Mother’s Day!
We’re Matt and Dayna. Life Enthusiasts in the pursuit of a life enriched in God’s sustaining grace, empowering others to pursue the same. Two very imperfect people who wake up with bad breath, have days (sometimes weeks) of losing our patience, modeling to the world, each other, and our children, a life that points to Christ through our imperfection.
Most days you can find us chasing after our little heartbeats, Luella and Chase (4&2) This dynamic duo plays a big part in the heart behind The Pause Pursuit; a ministry empowering couples and families to slow down to pursue God and each other. In a media-saturated world, the comparison game is real, but so is real life. The Pause Pursuit is a safe place that combines the two. Where real life meets the sustaining power and pursuit of a real Jesus.
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[…] been the friend to walk beside so many loved ones in their journeys of loss. In seasons of struggle, waters of uncertainty, depths of despair, and droughts of disappointment. […]