I cringe every year in May. Mother’s Day is coming.

After years of hearing sermons about motherhood being the highest purpose or calling of a woman, of guilt trips because I’d never had a child, of thinking I was weird for not wanting children, for being humiliated by the “inclusion” of “the rest of us” by saying “Ok, all the mothers stand… now, all of you ladies stand, we want to honor all of you. If you’re an aunt, a daughter, a sister… you’ve probably helped raise a child in some way. Stand up!!” Ugh. If I could have just remained seated, but I couldn’t. And so the guilt tripping sermon about the highest calling of a woman being something I had not the least real interest in and a month or more of wondering if I should adopt or try artificial insemination just so I could be “normal” culminated in the embarrassment of standing in front of a group of my acquaintances to acknowledge I was, indeed, female, someone’s daughter, and an aunt. But not a mother.

Thank you for today. You talked about Mothers Day from a historical perspective. I tuned you out. But you fairly quickly moved away from the mom stuff and on to a very good sermon about loving one another. You didn’t give all the mothers corsages or some gift in front of the congregation. You never pointed out which of us were and weren’t mothers. You didn’t ask the ladies to stand if they had this or that many kids or if they had this or that many grandkids. You didn’t even preach on motherhood.

For the first time in many years I didn’t regret going to church on Mothers’ Day, and I breathed a tentative sigh of relief. There was one more trial in sight, because there were candy bars given to each mother at the door on the way out. I hesitated to leave for the same reason I hesitated to come-surely this would be the moment when I would have to admit I wasn’t a mom or take the candy bar and act normal while cringing inside. I walked by the table and the person giving them out smiled, but not with any expectation or gesture to indicate I should take one. And nothing was shoved at me. No questions were asked. No one poked me and told me “Someday you will… just have faith!” Not once.

It was the best Mothers Day service I’ve probably ever been to. One where I didn’t feel embarrassed to be me.