For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a mum and a nurse, actually! And I wanted 6 kids! Being a mother is what I dreamed of!
As I grew my childlike dreams of motherhood faded, 3 kids would do! Motherhood was still part of the plan, but I would find a career first, find the right man, get married and after a few years start our family. That was the plan anyway, that was the dream……and then came reality.
The reality was much different. Yes, I started a career in nursing, yes I found a great man to marry, who was also a nurse. We bought a house, got a dog and then another. We settled down and then it was time! Time to start our family! But all we had was empty arms.
Months turned into years, years became a decade. A decade of empty arms, a decade of tears, a decade of pain, a decade of empty arms.
Along the journey there were glimmers of hope, promises we felt God had given us. Real promises! Like the time I cried out to God for a sign that I would have children. The sign was my husband had to bring me flowers. I knew this would be a miracle because Andrew NEVER buys me flowers! Within minutes of me crying out this prayer, there Andrew was at the door, a big bunch of flowers in his hands! The amazing part was that a patient had gone home without these beautiful flowers, so the other nurses on the ward encouraged Andrew to take them home to me. He protested, but eventually relented and brought them home. My prayer was answered before I even prayed it! But the promises, which were many, were just promises. I still had empty arms.
This pain continued for 12 long years. I remember so many mothers days where I would awkwardly remain seated as all the mothers were encouraged to stand in church. I remember deliberately choosing joy when others shared their pregnancy announcements. Some days that was easier than others. I remember falling crazy in love with my brand new neice and then my nephew, but still with empty arms. So joyous for my sister and these gorgeous babies, but still so yearning to hold my own. Just writing this reminds me of the inner pain I felt through this time.
And then my time came. After years of longing and multiple rounds of IVF and failure, I finally conceived! Twins! Their loss in my early pregnancy is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. 12 years of pain only to be dealt this! Then I had ANOTHER loss! STRAIGHT AFTER! They were hard days. I still remember my loving church holding me up, supporting me, when all I felt was anger and pain and hatred at God…..and I was the pastor! If it wasn’t for their love and support I wouldn’t be where I am today. They loved me through my grief and let me be broken….and through their love and support I found God’s love for me again. I am forever grateful for them.
Then the time finally came, I conceived again. Oh I was anxious, nervous, too scared to be too excited. But this time was different. I had a son! Joshua David Hambleton. Born Jan 2010. And amazingly, 18 months later Rebekah Grace entered our world! Amazing! I was finally a mother!
And then life was rosy….hahaha, actually life was normal! I still experienced sleep deprivation, and then guilt for wishing I’d had more sleep, I experienced normal mother frustrations, and joys and everything in between, but I never forgot. I have never forgotten the journey. And as I enter each and every mother’s day I remember.
I remember that sitting in my congregation this Mother’s Day are women who have all been on a journey. For some conception was easy, but motherhood has been tough. For others their dreams were shattered when their child died, for some their dreams are still dreams as they remain single, watching the years tick by and their dreams go stale. For others they are still waiting with empty arms for the miracle that seems so easy to others, but elusive to them. Mother’s Day can be tough. I want you to know, I see you, I feel with you, I know the pain this day can bring.
Because of my journey of empty arms, I choose to celebrate Mother’s Day differently. Andrew and I instead choose to make Mother’s Day WOMEN’S DAY! Women, we choose to celebrate you! Single, married without kids, mothers, single mothers, step mothers, grandmas, aunties, sisters. daughters, cousins, grandma figures, we celebrate you! Your worth and value is INCOMPARABLE! You are loved, chosen, unique, important, your voice matters, your ideas matter, YOU MATTER! This Mother’s Day, we celebrate you!
Today, whatever your life looks like, God can fill your emptiness, your mess, your brokenness, with his grace and love. The brokenness can be restored, hope can be found, even with………empty arms.
Paula Joy ❤️❤️