As Mother’s Day Approaches …
I think a lot of women would admit that Mother’s Day brings with it a sense of melancholy. There’s the woman who is reminded, again, that she is still not yet a mom—the one with the longing question to God of “Why?” Then there’s the mother who is desperately sad over her child who was taken away far too soon. She puts on a happy face, but inside, there is a gaping hole in her heart—and the weight of having to celebrate motherhood seems pointless and cruel. And then there are all of the other moms—millions of mothers all over the planet who are trying to raise babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults. With all the love they have, these women are trying to raise children in the most perfect of ways, but the reality is, we can’t because we (and our children) are imperfect beings.
So this Mother’s Day, whatever your journey is, may we remember to go easy on ourselves. May we remember to let whatever this day means—good, bad, or other—speak deeply to our souls. And may we remember that God, in fact, loves us completely and perfectly. With that, here are some answers to recent “Ask Mary Beth” questions—all related to Mother’s Day.
As Mother’s Day approaches, what does this day mean to you?
Nostalgia filled my heart when I first read this question. You see, I first thought more about what it meant to me as a young girl rather than a mother myself. I remember the weather, the smell of flowers, and the warmth of the sun. I remember being a little girl and going to church on Mother’s Day. All of the moms got a small potted petunia, and I loved watching my mom and grandma get their petunias. It was a ceremonial sort of day, and it was always a day that meant no cooking or cleaning for Mom. We would eat out and try to make it a day where Mom got a break! My mom was (and still is!) awesome, so it was easy for us to honor Mother’s Day. As for me, I have had a bunch of Mother’s Days. And while I certainly love being a mother, it is not for the faint of heart.
What are some of the best Mother’s Day memories for you? Why?
Simply put, my favorite Mother’s Day memories are the ones when we were all together. That was no small task for the Chapmans—with Steven traveling and getting all six children in the same place at the same time. The spread of our children’s ages alone made this almost impossible. Emily was in college when our youngest came home from China, so a Mother’s Day all together was the exception … and the best!
What are some of the worst Mother’s Day memories (sorry to ask this one)?
This is unfortunately easy. My worst Mother’s Days were the couple when Mother’s Day and Maria’s birthday fell on the same day. As I have said before, there is such goodness in the land of the living, and I am so grateful to have children and children-in-law who love me well and have loved me well on Mother’s Day. However, I’m a mom, and I am Maria’s mom—and when Mother’s Day and her birthday are the same, it’s exponentially sad. Quite frankly, any mother who has lost a child, no matter when, has a hole the shape of that child in her heart. It hurts, it’s not normal, and it reminds us that we are still breathing … or else we wouldn’t hurt so badly.
What do you tell your children who are adopted on this day about their first mothers?
To be honest, nothing. We’ve talked, at length, their whole lives about their adoption journeys and stories. If there is one thing that I could give my girls who are adopted, it would be the stories of their beginnings. But, for some reason, we don’t have those stories, and I believe that God fills in all the spaces that are empty and void. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are questions they have, and we have listened and given those questions voice. However, at the end of the day, I can’t speak to their first mothers, as you reference them, because I don’t know them. I would love to think that the reason my girls were placed with us is because someone was completely sacrificial in their love, and they wanted them to have a family. The truth is, though, I don’t know the reasons for their abandonment, and I’m not about to make up some story. We have talked—and continue to do so—about how amazing God is that He would allow our stories to intersect with theirs. I can say, though, I love Shaoey, Stevey, and Maria so much that if there was a way to connect with their birth mothers, I would and would love to give my girls that gift.
What hopes/dreams do you have for your children in the next five years?
I think most mothers pray that their children are healthy, happy, and enjoying their families. If you want to know specifics, I’m praying that all of my children continue to succeed in the areas where God has blessed them with gifts. For Emily, I pray that she continues to steward Show Hope well and enjoys shaping it for future generations. Caleb and Will Franklin are in the studio writing and recording their third album with their band, Colony House. I am praying that all kinds of doors open for them—that the right people, labels, and tours come along so people everywhere can know their music … and, in turn, know their hearts! Shaoey just finished her first year at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide! She loves it there, and my prayer for her is simply peace and contentment. As she asks God what direction academically she should walk, my prayer is that she just feels settled and calm with it. And then there is Stevey Joy. SJ is our athlete, and she is working hard to cheer in college. She has two years left in high school, and my prayer for her is that she remains healthy so she can continue to train, work hard, and make the team of her dreams.