Editor’s note: This letter celebrates God’s gift of motherhood, but we are also mindful that for some, Mother’s Day is complicated. Let us remember in our prayers neighbors among us who ache to become mothers, who are motherless, who have lost children, who cannot become mothers, who were hurt by their mothers and others for whom this day is painful. Mother God, wrap your healing arms around us all. In your name we pray, Amen.

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking about how to honor you this Mother’s Day, how I could express my love for you. You know you raised your only daughter with a love for reading and writing, so it’s only fitting I gift you a letter.

I’m sure you expected this, but this year Mother’s Day feels different. It’s my first as a mother myself (and your first as a doting grandmother), and I am so overwhelmed by the range of emotions I have: I’m grateful, joyful, full of love and even a little sad, but mostly grateful.

I’m grateful for God’s gift of motherhood, a role you know I longed for last Mother’s Day.

I’m grateful for my 3-month-old son, whose presence has brought new meaning to my life.

And mostly, I’m grateful for you.

For all the sleepless nights you endured, the dirty diapers you changed, the endless games of patty-cake you played when my brother and I were infants .…

For the long, lonely months you mothered us on your own—away from family—while dad was deployed .…

For every load of laundry, dish washed, rug vacuumed .…

For joyful summers at the library, in the pool and on long car rides to visit far-flung family .…

For Christmases and Easters spent playing the organ and directing the choir at church then rushing home to host a lovingly prepared family meal .…

For teaching us to read and sing and write and play and love and pray .…

For all the sacrifices I’ll never know you made to raise us well .…

Mom, thank you.

Mom, the greatest gift you’ve given me—in addition to the gift of life—is the gift of faith.

Also, I’m sorry for all the times I forgot to say thank you growing up. I’m sad it took becoming a mother myself for me to begin to comprehend the depth of your love and service to our family. Was this what your first Mother’s Day as a mother felt like too?

I wish I’d known this sooner because being a mother is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Since giving birth to my son I’ve noticed a fundamental shift in the way I think about my identity and purpose. After 31 years I’m seeing the world anew through the lens of a mother and writer and wife and daughter.

And yet … what hasn’t shifted, what’s anchored me during this time of transition, are the beliefs and values you instilled in me: To love others as God loves us. To set aside time for worship, prayer and thanksgiving. To serve others. To give.

Mom, the greatest gift you’ve given me—in addition to the gift of life—is the gift of faith. No one can really make anyone believe, of course, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, but you kept my brother and me rooted in a nurturing Christian community during our formative years.

You took us to choir practice and church each week and kindled in us a love for Lutheran liturgy and hymns.

You took us to Sunday school and confirmation and gave us opportunities to learn about a God who loves us more than life itself.

You modeled for us a quiet, strong faith in your Christ-centered living. Because of you, I grew up at church, and because of God’s grace, I am saved.

Your unconditional, constant love for me continues to reflect the love of God.

This Sunday we’ll be together at church again, this time to celebrate my son’s baptism. I know we’ve both been looking forward to this special time during which he will be welcomed into the body of Christ.

Though he won’t fully understand it now, we’ll remind him again and again of his baptism as he grows older and more mature.

Through baptism, God claims us as a mother would her children—and this is good news we can celebrate with everyone on Mother’s Day. The Bible is rich with images of God as a mother. My favorite? God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).

This passage reminds me of you and all the ways you’ve comforted me growing up. Chicken soup when I was sick, a hug when I was scared or sad, and loving words when I was having a down day. Your unconditional, constant love for me continues to reflect the love of God.

As I traverse the ups and downs of motherhood, my constant prayer is this—that I, too, can reflect the love of God in the way I care for my son.

In love and gratitude,

Your daughter

Erin Strybis
Erin Strybis is a freelance writer based in Chicago and author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). Find more of her stories at her website and on Instagram.

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