Mother's Day from far away with a newborn

A son and uncle shares his love for the mums in his life

This year, Mother’s Day has taken on new meaning for our family — it has much greater generational depth to it now. And though we are spread around the globe, I’ve found myself longing to be with my family more than ever.

Logistics can rob the joy from any celebration, but I’ve come to learn that though we may be physically distant, nothing can rob us of the love we feel and the grace we have access to.

Of course, we can honour our mothers any day of the week, but Mother’s Day serves as a great reminder.

I was born and raised in the UK to a British father and a kiwi mother. My Mum moved to England from New Zealand in her early twenties to specialise in burns and plastics nursing at a hospital southeast of London. There she met my dad, an oral surgeon, at a work disco. They fell in love, got married and in the eighties my brother made our mum a mother. I followed and a few years later my sister completed our family. The decades passed and after high school I left the UK for Australia and made Sydney home.

My immediate family have all made their way to settle in the southern hemisphere and two years ago, my brother and his wife made home in New Zealand.

Mother’s Day always required planning for us, even before COVID-19 struck. As an international family, we have had to navigate time differences, sourcing local florists, coordinating deliveries and sorting out how to make the ‘on-the-day’ video call. I’m sure many others are encountering such logistics this year, perhaps for the first time.

Though it can be a little tricky working out all these things, to me — it’s a matter of honour. Exodus 20:12 instructs us to that end, with one of the Ten Commandments encouraging us to honour our father and mother.

Of course, we can honour our mothers any day of the week, but Mother’s Day serves as a great reminder.

In this season of coronavirus restrictions, the reality of distance between me and my family has been further intensified by the birth of my first nephew to my brother James and his wife, Sarah.

“I’ve wanted to be a mum my whole life,” Sarah shared with me.

“And when we fell pregnant, I had romantic plans of what the birth would look like. COVID-19 threw that out the window!” Sarah laughed.

“In the lead up to my due date, we watched the daily updates from [NZ Prime Minister] Jacinda Ardern and she announced that they were closing borders to non-residents and non-citizens. The decision was made – my mum and dad wouldn’t be joining us from the UK. That was the first blow.

“The second one came around the confusion of whether or not James could join me for the birth. It was like the Hokey Pokey — he was in and then he was out and then he was in again. It was confusing and unsettling.

“I turned to God. I had to. I wasn’t going to become a mum the way I had imagined. And so, I prayed that God would grace us.”

As Sarah told me this, I was reminded of God’s care for Israel in Isaiah 66:13 – ‘As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.’

He’s a God of comfort in uncertainty.

The day Sarah went into labour, James was allowed to stay for the entire birthing process and on Friday, April 24, Josiah Daniel was born. But shortly after my brother James left the hospital, Josiah came down with jaundice and was moved into the Special Care Baby Unit. Due to the Level 4 lockdown in New Zealand, James wasn’t allowed to visit, and he received his updates from Sarah and the doctors via FaceTime.

Welcome to the world of parenthood.

“I’m just so thankful to God that we get to spend our first Mother’s Day as a family at home.” – Sarah

I’m sure that during Sarah’s first Mother’s Day – having only been a mum for a few weeks – our family will be reliving how, four days later, lockdown was moved to Level 3. This allowed for afternoon visitors, but considerations hadn’t been made for the Special Care Baby Unit. “We were under the impression that James would be able to come and see me but couldn’t see Josiah. That was gut-wrenching,” Sarah said.

“But half an hour before James was due to visit, it changed and they were allowing visitors to the SCBU one at a time. I burst into tears knowing that James would get to see his son again.”

On the following Wednesday after y nephew’s birth, James, Sarah and Josiah left the hospital with a clean bill of health.

“It’s not how I imagined my first few days of motherhood,” admitted Sarah, “But I’d do it all over again for Josiah.

“I’m just so thankful to God that we get to spend our first Mother’s Day as a family at home.”

I replied: “I’m thankful too.”

Isn’t God kind?  He is good and he is love. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church,  “… I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (3:17-19)

During this time of uncertainty, of distance and unsettlement — whether we have a good relationship with our mothers or not – I hope we all experience the vast measure of God’s incomprehensible love, the way Paul prayed.

I’m praying for grace for those who find Mother’s Day to be a difficult day.

As the first pictures of Josiah at home arrived in our family WhatsApp group, my heart grew with love for this sweet boy.

He made my sister-in-law a mum – and my brother a dad – and his birth was perfectly timed for Mother’s Day.

This strange season has heightened the feelings of separation for our new-and-improved family, but as Mother’s Day approaches, I’m learning to pray a certain prayer.

I’m praying for grace, grace for myself to navigate the disappointment and separation. I’m praying for grace, grace for others who find Mother’s Day to be one of the most difficult days of the year.

I’m also praying a prayer of surrender, surrender to God, the God of love who is the keeper of our hearts, and as David writes in Psalm 3, ‘..the One who lifts heads.’

Grace, grace, surrender.

Sam Buckerfield has written scripts for children’s television shows, and for Hillsong Channel. He is also an author and copywriter. Follow Sam on Instagram here.

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