The Mother Wound

(Photo: Unsplash)

As we pulled into the hotel parking lot, it took me a moment to recognize that I was holding my breath. It wasn’t until I went to speak, that I realized it. Suddenly, I was 11 years old and on the verge of tears. I had booked this hotel for its convenient location and airport shuttle before our early morning flight to the Dominican Republic, where my daughter and I would be serving for a week. What I didn’t realize was that it was the same hotel I had stayed in with my dad 31 years prior. We stayed there before my mother’s surgery in the nearby hospital. The surgery, where she died momentarily on the table before doctors brought her back. The same surgery where my brother and I heard that she had died, but not that they revived her. The same surgery that I held my baby brother as he cried when no one held me. The same surgery that changed my relationship with my mother.

After that surgery, she was never the same. I wasn’t the same. The combination of heavy narcotics, depression, and permanent disability took away any semblance of a mother I had known up until that point. In many ways, I was now the mother. Cleaning the house, cooking dinner, taking care of my little brother, and hiding once it turned 5:00, because that was the time of day my dad started drinking.

There are aspects of who I am now that I only have as part of my character because I went through those hard years. But little 11-year-old me didn’t know that, and I could feel her tears rising to the surface.

People talk about the father wound, but I rarely hear about the mother wound. 

I was getting ready to go serve children that were orphaned, with my own daughter, and perhaps this fresh perspective would serve me well, giving me a heart of compassion that might have otherwise been buried deep.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I opened the door for my daughter and held her close. I was not the same kind of mother to her that I experienced growing up. For me, there were no mission trips, no days of shopping, no late-night conversations. Instead, there were lonely days, even lonelier nights, and the feeling that no one really had my back. Of course, I knew all of this, but suddenly I was 11 years old again and feeling it in a fresh way.

Holding these things in my heart, we set out for our trip, arriving in the Dominican Republic the next day. We were received by our staff with warm hugs, our luggage was carried to the car for us. Waiting on my seat was cold water and several flavors of Gatorade so I could choose which one I preferred. Tears again stung my eyes because I quickly realized that those are all things that I do for my children.  

As their mother.

Thank you, Lord. I see you.

When we arrived at our Casa several hours later, we found waiting for us a warm meal, more hugs, and a beautiful room prepared for us, complete with extra towels, extra blankets, and some of my favorite chocolates on the table. Tears again stung my eyes because those are all things that I do for my children.  

As their mother.

Thank you, Lord. I see you.

The next day, after spending time with the children, a dear friend came to visit us.  She brought with her more warm hugs, words of encouragement, and my favorite coffee that she had picked up from the store. Tears again stung my eyes, because those were things I would do for my children.  

As their mother.

Thank you, Lord. I see you.

Little by little, throughout the week, I felt God’s love in a different way, through various people: the staff, the children, friends, and new friends. I watched my daughter bloom in her first mission experience. I felt tears sting my eyes with pride as I watched her, so proud of my daughter.  

As her mother.

Thank you, Lord. I see you.

I realized throughout the week that there was an aspect to my relationship with God that I had not considered before. I had not surrendered that pain to Him, and to be quite honest, I had never even prayed about it. Yet, He reached into that place, that place of pain that I kept so hidden, to show me that He loved me more than a mother even could love her own child.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I (God) will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15.)

If Mother’s Day is hard for you this year, for any reason, know that we have a God who sees your pain, who hears your silent tears, and who is saying to you right now, 

You. Are. So. Loved.

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