By Erin Bishop

We were walking around Pier One and I gave him permission to go off and explore on his own. I was looking for something, and he was getting bored, being a 13-year-old boy.

He found me sniffing candles a few minutes later. “Mama, come here, I want to show you something!”

I followed him past the wind chimes, outdoor wreaths, and outdoor furniture, until he stopped at the lamps.

“I think I found what I want to get you for Mother’s Day, Mama!” he proclaimed, as he proudly pointed to a lamp. A lamp I never in a million years, well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

“Wow! That is quite a lamp, buddy! You are so good to me, thank you. You know, I actually don’t need a new lamp right now. You know what I’d really love for Mother’s Day? Time with you. And a hug.”

He playfully lowered his shoulders, pretending to be defeated. But was he pretending? There I go again, saying the wrong thing to one of my kids.

“Actually, I don’t even need a Mother’s Day gift. Time with you really is the best gift. But if you were to do a gift, a gift card to somewhere would be nice. You know, so I could shop and use coupons?” Ever the control freak, that’s me.

He wasn’t moved by my words, and he walked off towards the vases, pretending to be interested. Awesome job, mom.

As the week went on, Mother’s Day was everywhere. All the stores I visited had big displays front and center filled with “all the things mom needs to feel special and appreciated”. Sponsored Facebook ads flooded my newsfeed with contests for massages, facials, and special brunch offerings for mom.

I don’t need, or deserve, any of that stuff, I told myself.

I’ve never been big about celebrating myself. Especially as a mom.

When I think of my early days as a single mom to my little girl, I don’t think of the loving, devoted, and determined mother that I know I was. I think about all the times I selfishly put my social life above time with her.

I remember all the times a crying little girl looked up at her mommy who couldn’t handle the stress of the morning routine and took it out on her innocent little girl. Barking orders like a drill sergeant that no child could measure up to.

Years of major depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue, and more than a little shame from those afflictions, have stolen so much of my life and the lives of my children.

I think about all the times I said “maybe later”, “mommy doesn’t feel good right now”, or “I need to take a nap”, my heart breaking for disappointing my kids.

The times my husband would come home from a long day at work, and I’d have nothing to show for, often sitting in the same place as he left me, hours before.

I just couldn’t do it. Life. It was hard. And I was so tired. And sleep was my escape.

I’ve always measured my shortcomings by the Proverbs 31 woman yardstick, while relating better to the less popular Proverbs 14:1 woman, who, with her own hands tears her house down.

I felt as though I was wrapped up in a tight cocoon, tucked in so tightly by layers of shame, regret, sadness, anger, fear, and hope, yes, even hope.

Hope is the birthplace of victory. And victory was coming.

He was preparing me. He makes all things new.

He has all the answers, and even more grace.

He comforts those who mourn. I have known mourning, and I know His comfort.

When it felt like there was no way out of the dark, He made a way for me in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

He tells us if we put on a garment of praise, it will wash away our despair. And wash it away, He has.

So for me, Mother’s Day is not a celebration of the mother I am, it’s about the mother I get to be to my children. The two precious lives God birthed inside of me, whose hearts I have been entrusted. It’s the privilege of feeling the kind of love that nothing else comes close to. It’s knowing that sometimes I am the only person in a world of billions that can meet the needs of my child in any given moment.

Mother’s Day is my day to celebrate being a mom.

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