The dreaded rose

Posted May 5th, 2008 under Infertility, Mothering by MicheleP.

Mother’s Day is next week. While I look forward to honoring my own mother – and being honored as a mother – I still cringe when I think of what will transpire next Sunday. In churches all across America (and beyond) mothers will be honored by special children’s programs, prayers, contests (oldest, newest, most children, etc. etc. etc.), and of course by the rose. Oh, the dreaded rose.

Several years ago, I wrote this letter to our pastor:

Pastor S,

I want to share with you that has been on my heart the past few weeks.

As you know, Scott and my journey to parenthood has been a very long and difficult road. For years, the pain of infertility was a silent grief that mostly we shared with just each other as we went to a small church where everyone around us seemed to be able to produce children with great ease. We endured such hurtful comments through the years… “When are you guys going to get with the program?” “You would make such great parents!” “Be glad you don’t have to deal with this!” “When you have kids of your own…” and the list goes on and on. And most of these would come from within the church… from well-meaning, yet ignorant, Christians.

I stopped attending church on Mother’s Day 4 years ago. The sting of that day – celebrating exactly what I longed to be but was unable to achieve. Our church gave flowers and had all the Mothers stand up to recognize them on that day. I can clearly remember sitting in church 4 years ago and being the ONLY woman sitting in my chair without a flower while all the other women stood. I cannot tell you how painful and isolated I felt in my grief at that moment. That was the last Mother’s Day service I attended.

Of course, that brings us to last year and the story is even more painful and difficult. Now I am a mother but one with empty arms. I celebrated Mother’s Day without my children and faced a whole new set of pain and grief. I am forever grateful for my husband who went to great efforts last year to honor me in a special way last year. He really should get a husband of the year award!!

I know that in a church our size, I cannot be alone. I am sure that days such as Mother’s Day bring grief to others as well for many reasons (death of a child, unable to have children, death of mother, single women, and many more). I don’t know how BCC recognizes the day but wanted to share something with you for consideration.

I took this from a friend of mine – they used this in her church last year:

“A Mothers Day Prayer for You on Mothers Day…

For the married women who desire to have children and cannot. Also, for the single women who desire children yet are getting weary waiting on a spouse. God understands your situation and we care. “In the name of Jesus, we ask that the Holy Spirit will comfort your heart and give you peace and that our Father God would grant you your petition. Amen.” (1 Samuel 1:2-17)

For the single mom. God understands your challenge and we care. “In the name of Jesus, we ask that the grace of God will sustain you, the wisdom of God lead you, the love of God encompass you, and the provisions of God overtake you. Amen.” (Philipians 4:13)

For the moms with a child who has chosen a destructive lifestyle and is in a physical or spiritual prison. God understands your concern and we care. “In the name of Jesus, we ask that the Holy Spirit would convict them of sin. We ask for the perfect laborers to cross their path. We thank God for their salvation, deliverance and restoration. Amen.” (Proverbs 11:21)

For all the moms who experience grief on Mothers Day because of miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or a childs death outside the womb. For all those men and women who experience grief on Mothers Day because of the loss of their mom. God understands and we care. “In the name of Jesus we ask that the Holy Spirit will comfort your hearts and give you peace. Jesus bore your grief so you don’t have to. Jesus we thank you for removing the grief and healing the heart. Amen” (Isaiah 53:4)

In the name of Jesus we pray for all of our mothers on Mothers Day. May God our Father bless you and strengthen you and encourage you. May your eyes be opened that you and others may see that your price is far above rubies and may your children rise up and call you blessed. (Proverbs 31:10-31)”

I certainly know that mothers are indeed special and should ABSOLUTELY be honored. I am forever grateful for my own mother and the daily sacrifices she made that I might have a better life. In no way am I suggesting that Mother’s Day (or Father’s day or any other holiday for that matter) be ignored for the sake of hurting others – just wanted to share with you my story and my heart and this idea for how to acknowledge the pain the day can bring, while still honoring mothers. BCC is such a special place – one of tremendous healing and hope – thank you for all that you guys do to love and minister to us.


The church did use this prayer that year – inserting it into the weekly handout – and it was well received. I hope it gave some comfort to those fighting the tears as the children sang, babies dedicated, mothers stood and roses distributed. I know, for me, the simple act of acknowledging the hurt and pain does my heart a ton of good.




  • 1

    I understand exactly what you are saying. This is a beautiful response to a painful day.

    Comment by Lesley Hamilton — May 5, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

  • 2

    I’m thankful to hear lately of some churches who are recognizing those who can’t have children or have lost children. One blog I read – her church is giving away free fertility treatments to one couple on Mother’s day. It’s awesome that it doesn’t have to be a shameful, private hurt.
    Thanks for sharing this. Your letter was perfect!

    Comment by Kelly — May 5, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

  • 3

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I’m so amazed that the church embraced it. I’ve heard of other women making similar suggestions and being blatently ignored.

    Comment by Amanda — May 5, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  • 4

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I have passed it on to MY pastor (who also happens to be my husband :) ). There are many in our church who struggle and I have often wondered how to make mother’s day less painful.

    Comment by Tara R — May 5, 2008 @ 11:10 pm

  • 5

    Thank you. :)

    Comment by Misty — May 5, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

  • 6

    I’m so proud of you for writing such a transparent and practical letter all at the same time. It was perfectly written. Thank you for letting us read it and being so sensitive to other moms with this same pain.

    Comment by Alicia — May 6, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  • 7

    Thank you for sharing this Michele. I have a totally different view of Mother’s Day since reading this and Kelly’s post yesterday. I know you and Kelly both are ministering to so many others out there experiencing what you have and are going through. Please know I’ll be thinking about you on Sunday.

    Comment by Leigh Ann — May 6, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  • 8

    What a great idea and letter to write to your church. I must be so hard to sit through one of those rose ceremonies when you cannot participate. I have friends who have gone through similar experiences to yours and I have seen how hard it can be.

    What surprises me here in Puerto Rico is the direct questions I get about having children – both from Puerto Ricans and from Americans who usually ask within the first 5 minutes of meeting them if we are not planning to have children. I am really taken aback by this directness, and I don’t really know how to answer – as I don’t think that it is of anybody else’s business and least of all when it comes to complete strangers. I usually mumble something about “the future”… What kind of answer is expected – “yes, we are at it every night like rabbits”? (sorry but it has started to annoy me..)
    It seems to be a woman’s question though, everytime I meet some of O’s female colleagues, they corner me with the B-question – it doesn’t seem that they ask HIM those questions… I know that the B-question would probably also be asked in Spain, Italy or Greece but in northern Europe it is usually considered a very personal issue that you don’t ask (at least not if you don’t know the person and hardly even then).

    Comment by Petra — May 6, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  • 9

    Thinking of you…

    Comment by jennyonthespot — May 6, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

  • 10

    Thanks for this.

    Comment by Jennifer — May 9, 2008 @ 11:38 pm

  • 11

    Michelle, I am friends with Anne and Skip and have kept up with your journey for the last years. I am so thankful that God blessed you with Libby and Clara, but also understand that you still grieve for the sweet boys (weren’t they both boys) you lost. I pray that God will bless you this Mother’s Day. Thank you so much for the above post. I am sending it to a friend who suffered with infertility and now has two lovely children, but lost a third from Trisomy 18 this last Christmas. I know she will appreciate your prayer.

    Comment by Frances Eubanks — May 10, 2008 @ 8:09 am

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