With Mother’s Day coming up, I’m wondering how many of my single and/or childless friends will find themselves hurting as they leave the church. I have plenty of friends who completely avoid church on Mother’s Day because it simply rubs salt in an already open wound. It’s not that we don’t want to celebrate mothers, rather it’s that we’d like to be mothers and, for one reason or another, that hasn’t been an option in our lives. All the celebrating reminds us that we aren’t mothers and we may never get that incredible opportunity. And, as I’ve discussed on my blog before, people say dumb things! I’m sure they mean well, but they just don’t think about the effect that it has on the recipient.

I saw a post on Facebook today entitled, “People With No Kids Don’t Know.” It featured a comedian, Michael McIntyre, who was contrasting life without kids to life with kids. We all know that comedy uses exaggeration to make a humorous point, but he said some things in his “comedy” that are very hurtful to those who desire kids, but do not have them. His comedy put people in only two boxes (Kids & No Kids) and made the assumption that those without kids were choosing to be that way and had absolutely no knowledge of life with children. It made me cringe instead of laugh. There is most definitely at least a third box (and probably more), of people who do not have kids and are wrestling with their desire to do so and the life they’ve been handed. While I understand why he setup his comedy act as he did, I suspect that few in that third box will find his act funny.

Here are some thoughts about Mother’s Day and life with kids from someone who does not have kids, but would like to:

Yes, I know I have more free time than people with kids, but I would give anything, including every free minute of the day, to fill that time with a child or children. If I happen to mention my free time, please do not respond with, “Free time? What’s that?” I am well aware that you have much less free time than I do, but I’d trade you in a second. Would you give up your children forever to have my free time?

Yes, I know that it can be frustrating to have children. I understand that children misplace their shoes every single day. I know that it takes longer to get out of the house and that everything you do takes longer than when one has no children. But again, I’d much rather be in your shoes. When you tell someone without children that, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” all we hear is you taking your children and family for granted.

Yes, I know that I’m not dead yet. I know that there is still a chance that I will have kids one day. Believe me, I think on it a great deal, so you don’t need to remind me. If you tell me, “Don’t worry, your time will come,” or “But you’re still so young,” it doesn’t encourage me, even if that was your intent. You cannot possibly know what the future holds for me, so please, don’t pretend too. If you’d like to encourage someone without kids, perhaps try something like, “Is Mother’s Day hard for you? How can I pray for you?” Or perhaps, “Is having kids a desire that you have? Does that make Mother’s Day tough on you?”

And yes, I can even understand how mothers might not actually enjoy Mother’s Day. I get that it can be a disappointment each year because you are still doing all your usual motherly duties and not getting the break and special treatment you were hoping for. You might even have a bigger than normal mess to clean up in the kitchen because your children tried to cook your breakfast. But please, if your find Mother’s Day disappointing this year, remember to appreciate that you are a mother and that you get to do those motherly things. Please do not tell me, “Don’t worry, you aren’t really missing much with Mother’s Day.” There are many who would rather be disappointed as a mother on Mother’s Day than spend another Mother’s Day with empty arms. Hug your children, fill your arms, and remember how blessed you are on Mother’s Day.

Before you suggest that I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth and taking the life I have for granted, please know that I appreciate what a life without children has to offer. There are things that I have seen and done that would not have been possible if I had children. I freely admit that. I see the advantages of it, but I still long to have kids. I suspect the number of mothers who actually long to completely give up their children and return to their former, childless state is very few. It is the natural order of things to marry, to have children, and to eventually enjoy an empty nest. My life hasn’t followed the natural order, and I’ll enjoy that which He has for me, but I would appreciate it if those with children would think before they quip and try to make light of my childless state. Make sure your encouragement is really encouragement. If you don’t know what to say to someone without children (or in any other situation where someone is grieving, for that matter), ask how you can pray or simply state, “That sounds tough.” Your sympathy is much more encouraging than misguided humor or a thoughtless statement.

For those without children, did I miss anything?
For those with children, do people without children say hurtful things that we aren’t aware of?