When Celebrating Mother’s Day Is Hard (like during a pandemic)

By Melanie Rainer


As Mother’s Day 2020 approaches, it is guaranteed to look . . . different this year. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, encouraged to social distance and stay safer-at-home, many retail shops are closed, and churches are primarily meeting virtually. 

Mother’s Day, which began to be celebrated in the U.S. officially in 1914, has always carried a bittersweet reputation, holding the tension between women who are mothers and those who long to be, those whose child has passed away or become estranged, or those who have lost their own mothers. 

Mother’s Day is a reminder of the beautiful gift of motherhood, but it is inseparable from the brokenness of the world that tints and tilts every relationship. 

And especially this year, when motherhood has felt the same tectonic shift as every other facet of life in the time of Covid-19—Mother’s Day might feel hard.

For those women who are struggling this year, we see you . . . God sees you. We pray you’ll be encouraged by these scriptures and reminders of His deep love for you.

When Celebrating Mother’s Day Is Hard (like during a pandemic)

For Moms Who Grieve 

In Isaiah 49, the love of God is compared to the love of a grieving mother: 

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

    the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

    I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

Isaiah 49:14–16 NIV


In the middle of Israel’s exile, God hears their cry of being forgotten. And what does He compare Himself to? A mother, whose fierce love is unmatched. 

If this Mother’s Day is full of grief, longing, or loneliness, know that God sees and carries that pain alongside you. His love is as strong and primal as a mother’s yet He loves more. He says “though she may forget, will not forget you.”  You are written on His palms, which were nailed to the Cross for you. 

The Gospel doesn’t mean that God just knows about your pain and sadness, the Gospel tells us He carried it. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t feel deep sorrow or that “everything happens for a reason” and will make sense in this life, but that God promises to one day wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). 

As you carry grief of any kind into this weekend—of loss, of deferred motherhood, of painful separation or broken relationships—know that God loves you, sees you and chose to suffer for you because of His great love. Lean into His own motherly tenderness as you grieve the way motherhood looks or doesn’t look, in your life. 

For Moms Who Feel Overlooked or Overwhelmed

Your motherhood journey probably doesn’t look like a stock photo or an Instagram influencer feed, even when we’re not under a global lockdown. And that’s normal and completely ok! But it’s also normal (and completely ok) to feel overwhelmed by the pressure, expectations, and even basic needs of being responsible for any number of tiny humans. 

Maybe the thing you want most for Mother’s Day is a really long nap, or three hours to binge your favorite show in the dark. A hard season of mothering doesn’t have to involve deep grief, or tragedy, or extenuating circumstances. It could simply be hard bedtimes, or discipline issues, or the mundane days of dishes and laundry and homework. 

But take heart, God promises He sees you in this season. 

He tends his flock like a shepherd:

    He gathers the lambs in his arms

and carries them close to his heart;

    he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11 NIV

Tucked into the middle of Isaiah 40, we see assurance that God cares for those who have young, gently leading you on this journey. He is your shepherd, and He gathers your children in His arms, close to His heart. Remember He holds them and their futures, more than you do. And believe it or not, He loves them more than you do too. 

For Weary Moms During A Pandemic

Moms may be wearing more than just a “mom” hat during the pandemic. Full-time childcare, home educator, family chef, house cleaner, playtime friend, boo-boo fixer, and nighttime-story-teller . . . parents (moms and dads!) are wearing all the hats when it comes to their kids these days. And the biggest hat of all just might be the one that has weary blazoned on the front. 

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul opens up his letter with these words to tired friends: 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV

Reread those words, sinking into the ones that you need right now: compassion and comfort. God offers those to you, bone-tired and 24/7 busy mom, during this season. And as His compassion and comfort fill you, in turn, you can let it flow through you to comfort your family during these uncertain times. Lean into His comfort and kindness! 

For Celebrating Mother’s Day When You Are Tired and Isolated

In the midst of a pandemic, Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day next month!) may seem both more loaded with expectation, but also like one more thing to do. As you are planning a Mother’s Day celebration for yourself or a mom or grandmother who you can’t see right now, here are a few fun ideas for celebrating by distance:

  • Encourage your kids to go through magazines and cut out words and pictures to make a collage for mom or grandmothers. 
  • Record a Mother’s Day poem or song and send it digitally! 
  • Have a virtual Mother’s Day brunch and gather everyone on a video call! But definitely order takeout or delivery!
  • Use a photo printing service and make custom cards with pictures of you and your mom to send in the mail.
  • Sometimes celebrating others helps lift our own spirits. Try one of these ways to be another mom’s cheerleader right now or download and send this “Love You Like a Mother” card to a friend or mentor who means the world to you.