To the Moms that don’t Belong today

To the mom that screamed at her kids all morning to get them ready for church.

To the mom who is frazzled while reading this.

To the mom that’s in jail and didn’t get to see her kids at all today.

To the mom caring for her sick child in the hospital, tired and worn.

To the mom that lost a child.

To the mom with fur-babies that has been struggling to get pregnant for a long time.

To the mom looking for her next hit.

To the mom whose adult kids hate her.

This is for you.

You are not alone.

I think people sometimes see me and think I have it all together; so, I want to clear that right on up. Let’s just talk about the last couple of weeks. My oldest girl left the house without warning to live in a place that she hasn’t disclosed to me, with people I don’t know. They broke into our house the day after.

My son came over after work the night before Mother’s Day and put his dad, my ex-husband, (divorced over a decade ago) on speaker phone because I wouldn’t answer him. He exhibited the same bullying and controlling behaviors I ran from all those years ago, this time through our 18 year old son.

I picked up two beautiful, twin teenage girls and drove them to see their mom in jail on Friday night. I begged the guards to do something for the incarcerated women there on Mother’s Day and told them I would help pull it off. When they refused, I asked could my friend at least be allowed to see her 3 year old son. She has not seen him in 10 months in “temporary” lock up, where visitation is done behind glass and over a phone and no child under 16 is allowed. They said no, and a guard threatened to take away my visitation rights.

One of my very closest friends sat in a hospital room on Mother’s Day watching her son battle cancer and begging God to give them both strength.

Another TWO of my mom-friends are cleaning up the messes of car accidents their girls got into this week.

I know people in messy divorces or in broken marriages, those who’ve lost their moms, those who have aborted babies, those who pray for a miracle baby, those who put their children up for adoption, those whose children will not speak to them, those who are separated from their churches and communities; we collectively grieve this day.

As we sit and watch social media for perfect pictures of perfect families taken at perfect churches, and realize exactly how we don’t measure up; we must acknowledge that a perfect Hallmark Mother’s Day was not enjoyed by all moms. For many of us, it was just another day in a series of bruised and broken days that leave us spent and worn out.

In all of this, I am fed up. I am sick and tired of a Mother’s Day focused on the women who fake it (because none of us have it together). I am exhausted with platitudes, Proverbs 31, and submission preached by male preachers from patriarchal platforms that serve to cover up and ignore abuses happening in their own churches. Even worse, using God’s Word ripped out on context to condemn women to subordinates or at the very least provide a list of expectations that none of us will ever live up to. (To read my thoughts on Proverbs 31, click here)

When the pastor announced today that children would stay in service with their moms to “enjoy” the sermon for Mother’s Day, I stood up and walked out with my youngest kids (7, 5, and 3) to the nursery, for my sanity and so they could get relief from already having to sit still for 40 minutes. Quickly, three other kids from frazzled moms joined us, and I wondered if the kids would sit with their dads to “enjoy” the service on Father’s Day.

Our churches have chosen to ignore the hurt of motherhood to paint a pretty picture that does not exist; in that, they have failed us. If you didn’t hear a woman preach this morning, start asking hard questions about where you were. It’s not until we bond together as women, that things can begin to change. It’s not until we start sharing our heartbreak, that things will start to change. It’s not until we start revealing our scars to each other instead of covering them with masks and make up, where we can really experience life in its fullest.

The fabric of humanity, life itself, is woven by God into a tapestry of which the thread of pain can not be pulled apart from the thread of pure joy. Women, daughters, mothers: we’re in this together. But, we have to be willing to share our stories. It’s there in the ironies and miracles, the allegory and losses, that we find each other, all on the same struggle bus, trying to experience a holiday the way someone else said it should be done; or, trying to fit into someone else’s standard of who we should be.

Our motherhood, our togetherness is found in the rough edges and hard to reach places. In the dusty corners of our mind-attics, our bruised memories sit waiting to be uncovered so someone else can know they aren’t alone.

Every broken piece has a purpose.

Every bruised moment comes with strength.

Every joy has mourning.

And every morning has joy.

Each story matters and when we tell ours, I promise, it will help someone. It will also help us to heal.

Happy Mother’s Day, beautiful and courageous daughters! May you never forget your place… because, sweet princess, it is in the throne room of our Father.

And Jerry Springer, if you’re reading this, “Yes, I’ll take a contract.”

Father, bless your girls today. Remind them that despite their circumstances, in the chaos of their loneliness, and in the brokenness of their hearts that they are still princesses in the court of Your holy throne room. That regardless of situations and churches and societies that would keep us submitted and quiet that you, Father, have called us to stand fiercely and boldly telling our stories – on platforms and behind pulpits, quietly at coffee and loudly on international stages – to other moms, other daughters, to the broken ones the privileged ones, and yes, even to men. Help Your girls to visualize themselves as warriors on the front lines of Your kingdom leading the battle cry and Your charge even though we feel like we can barely breathe in our own humanity. Whisper sweetly in the hearts of our girls, our little ones, our teenagers, our young adults, that You have a call on their lives. Shout if You must to remind older women like myself and more senior that our purpose is still not lost; the world didn’t give it, and the world cannot take it away. Rise up in Your churches, women who would lead the way and convict men’s hearts so they might see the religion of alienation and exclusivity that they have built is not of You. Rise up men who empower women, tear down the platforms of those who choose to oppress. Most of all, send someone into the lives of those women who hurt today and into the evening to remind them that they’re not alone. And through Holy Spirit, encourage us to tell our stories to remind others that they are not alone. In Jesus’ holy and precious name, Amen.

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Dawn Sutherland

misfit-writer-speaker & social-justice-wannabe. I wander, but I'm not lost. I love Jesus not religion. My heart's cry is for every person to feel an empowered sense that they belong, and that we get to face the world wild and equipped with the love and hope of Jesus. I live in Suffolk, Virginia with my amazing husband, Louis and have four awesome kids: Katie, Ronnie, Selah, and Sami. I am also a passionate fitness instructor at the Suffolk YMCA. Subscribe to the blog, and stay tuned in for the book YOU BELONG to be published soon, which will talk about our desire as women to "fit in" and how we can harness that to change the world!