Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

The “M” Word

on May 9, 2014

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/

Many years ago while living in Colorado, I stopped by the grocery store to grab some milk before heading home. As I rushed down an aisle, chosen at random, I was suddenly assaulted by the scent of baby powder and diapers. I skidded to a halt and stood there for several seconds, stunned. Something so sweet, and yet it assaulted me like a vicious right hook. This unexpected reminder of the empty ache inside of me struck at my longing for children of my own.

In that moment I realized this desire might never be fulfilled. I was fast approaching an age when it would no longer be possible. Though in my thirties at the time, my biological clock had been ticking for years and I kept hitting the snooze button.

The truth of my situation struck me with all the force of a category five hurricane. Fear, shock, regret, anger, hopelessness. I plunged, temporarily, into an ocean of grief. Yes, I slowly clawed my way out, but the waves still beat against me to this day. So I do what I must to keep my head above water so I don’t drown.

Almost two decades have passed since that night and I still steer clear of the “baby aisle” whenever possible. But this Sunday is Mother’s Day—a yearly reminder of my motherless life. My own mom lost her battle with breast cancer when I was in high school, which just compounds the fact I’m not a mother myself.

So, I won’t go to church this Sunday. I learned the hard way how painful it can be. And since I just can’t know how mom-centric the service will lean, it’s best if I stay home.

The one bright spot of Mother’s Day, though, is celebrating the best mom I know: My beautiful, youngest sister. It’s because of her that I have Katy, Lulu and Ollie in my life. Being an aunt to my amazing nieces and nephew is a constant source of joy.

But I’m still a woman who’s been motherless since she was 17 and who struggles to understand how she reached the age of 50 without children of her own. This is a wound that hasn’t healed and yet, with God’s help, I’ve come to a place where I accept the pain as part of my life experience.

It’s hard to explain … but perhaps I don’t need to. Everyone has an ache. It’s something we all have in common. And only time will tell if that hurt will last or fade or one day come to a place of healing. God knows. He also knows my limits and it’s OK if I choose to protect my admittedly fragile heart from unnecessary pain.

These verses give me peace and I pray they do the same for you, whatever your source of grief:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18

If you don’t have children of your own, how do you feel about Mother’s Day? Feel free to share your heart with us here.


7 responses to “The “M” Word

  1. Jennifer says:

    I dread this day every year. I never seem to be able to arrange my schedule to spend this exact day with my mother. I tell myself I’m week if I don’t go to church. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I don’t have children and short of a miracle won’t ever have any. But I cherish the fact I have a sweet niece and nephew who slip and call me mommy sometimes. Thank you for being so honest and frank about this day and what it means to those of us who are childless and I married…kind of a double whammy!

    • sharynkopf says:

      Jennifer, thank you for joining us here at Girls Night In! You are definitely not weak if you choose not to go to church on Mother’s Day. It’s a tough decision but one you should be free to make. I know there’s always a possibility I’ll be encouraged if I go but the last time I did it was so focused on moms — “Everyone who is a mom stand up!” — that I left in tears. I think it’s OK to protect your heart.

      I will pray for you this Sunday — that God will encourage you and give you joy.

  2. Carole Brown says:

    Sharyn, your post touched my heart. You have so much love to give. hugs!

  3. Kay says:

    As a birthmother who relinquished her son to adoption, Mother’s Day was always very difficult for me, until later I was reunited with him when he was 24. I understand that ache and keep childless women in my daily prayers.

  4. mkheadley49 says:

    I was a birthmother who relinquished my son to adoption. Mother’s Days haunted me every year until we were reunited when he was 24. I understand the emptiness and pain … and the embarrassment of not being able to “stand if you’re a mother so we can honor you” announcement is made. Prayers and Blessings.

    • sharynkopf says:

      I can’t even imagine, Kay. But I’ve seen how God has blessed you through the joys — & the difficulties — of motherhood. Thank you for joining us here today & sharing your story!

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