Motherhood: Opening Our Hearts to Love and Sorrow

qualls family June 2015

Last night I dreamed of Kalkidan.

Our family was gathered around a table. I was sitting at one end and the table was long with so many of us together. We were talking and laughing when Kalkidan ran into the room. 

Shouts went up, “She’s here! She’s here! Kalkidan’s here!”

She ran to me, crawled into my lap, and rested her head against my chest. I kissed her forehead, my cheek brushing against her curls.

For a moment I felt warmth and joy, then I felt myself begin to surface from sleep, and I realized it was a dream. I tried to hold onto to it, to sink more deeply into the dream and let it flow on, but it was gone.

I wanted to reach for Russ, rest my head on his chest, borrow some of his courage, but I also didn’t want to wake him when his alarm would do it soon enough.

I drifted back to sleep.

I woke again in the morning with a deep sense of sadness.

It’s nearly Mother’s Day, friends. This is a sweet and happy day for so many, but not all.

In 2015 I faced Mother’s Day having lost Kalkidan – not lost really, but not here with us, not able to hug her, hear her voice, and tell her to make her bed one more time. A month later, my son Nick died very unexpectedly.

This year the loss is deeper and more profound. Two children gone from this world. 

I don’t understand – I truly don’t, but I trust Jesus. It’s all I can do.

While Mother’s Day is a lovely day to celebrate motherhood and honor our own mothers, let’s remember that there are women who grieve.

The more we open our hearts to love, the more we also open our hearts to the possibility of sorrow. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage, dear heart.”

As I wrote years ago in Mother’s Day for the Brokenhearted,

This Sunday we will see women who are suffering because they have not been able to become mothers and there is deep sorrow in their hearts.

What we may not readily see are the women who have children in prison, those who are walking the long journey of mental illness or addiction by their children’s sides, and mothers in the midst of painful struggles with children who have rejected the family, or forsaken the faith they once held dear.

I don’t have profound wisdom, only this, if your heart is hurting as Mother’s Day approaches, you are not alone. There is no shame in acknowledging that being a mother can be very hard.

God knows this, and somehow he counts us worthy of this beautiful, broken, messy calling.

Friends, I hope your Mother’s Day is filled with joy. For those of you approaching it with sorrow, know that I will wake in the morning praying for you and I will hold you close in my heart throughout the day.

with hope and gratitude,


Signature Lisa Claire

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Joy Headrick
    May 4, 2016

    Praying for you this Mother’s Day. Praying for all those who cannot smile and feel the love of their children on this special day. We have all been there in some form. My heart aches for you and yet I know by what you say that God will comfort you. Thank you. I also pray for those who cannot see the smile of their Mother on this day. I am there. I remember her smile and that is a comfort.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 5, 2016

      Thank you, Joy.

  2. Pam H.
    May 13, 2016


    As I look at the picture above of your children, I can’t tell the difference between bio children and adopted children because they all have your smile!

    Blessings to you and to every day being a Mom’s Day.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 14, 2016

      Pam, you are kind, thank you. Blessings to you too.


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