Posted by: smstrouse | May 12, 2012

For Those Who Stay Away On Mothers’ Day

I don’t know how it is now, but in many of the churches I’ve attended over the years, Mothers’ Day was a high holy day.  Mothers whose children did not attend church with them that day were looked upon with great pity; their children considered the most heinous of ingrates.  Moms were given roses, honored at brunch, and lauded in sermons. It was a truly wonderful day – for many.

But I began to notice who was not there on Mothers’ Day.  The couple who, after several miscarriages, had accepted that they were unable to have a child.  The woman whose child had died in his teens.  Another one who had lost a baby to SIDS.  Other childless couples seemed to go missing on this day, along with single women and women whose children couldn’t or wouldn’t be there with them.  Also, the grown children who were estranged or had difficult relationships with their mothers.  For many people, the day was fraught with emotional baggage.  And the church seemed to blithely run over them.

Things have changed some.  We’ve recognized that many people provide ‘motherly’ care, including men. In my last congregation, we observed ‘Mothers and Others Day,’ which tried to be inclusive. Still, as a childless woman, I was reminded that I would always be ‘other.’  So I’ve become sensitive to the ‘others’ who may not be in attendance on Mothers’ Day.

And while I have the utmost respect, admiration and awe for what mothers do, I also have compassion and respect for all the others.  So to all of you, I say, “I get it; I know why you’re not here today; it’s OK.”

But I would also want to say that the church has changed. We’ve become more sensitized.  While we still honor mothers and those who give motherly care, we also remember the anti-war roots of Mothers’ Day; we pray for Mother Earth; we support Planned Parenthood; we advocate for the rights of women and girls everywhere; we  celebrate gay and lesbian parents. We do not lay guilt trips or gloss over the realities of difficult relationships.

It can still be challenging to be an ‘other’ on Mothers’ Day. I do not have children. My mother is deceased and we had a challenging relationship while she was alive.  I live far away from my nephew and my god-daughters.  I do not consider myself to be my cat’s mom.

Still, it’s going to be a beautiful day.  And in our congregation we will truly wish a Happy Mothers’ Day – to everyone!



  1. Your interpretation of traditions is always thoughtful and makes us think of perspectives people “outside” could have. Being a single woman, I didn’t think some women could feel “out of place” at a Mother’s Day worship. I’ve had a fortunate relationship with my mother despite trivial conflicts in the past. Your suggestion of making the holiday as “Mothers & Others’ Day” sounds like fun, as well as inclusive :->


  2. And don’ forget, Pastor Susan. You are a pastor & teacher. (Are you still teaching at USF?) I think you are, in some ways, a mother to your congregation and some people are getting “a motherly guidance” from you!!


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