When We Have Imperfect Mothers

For many of you, Mother's Day is a special time to honor your mom.  And, isn’t it wonderful that we have a national day set aside to do just that?  But, what about those of us who have had a difficult relationship with our moms?  Often, Mother’s Day for us is a time of pain, regret and anger. 

I was tempted to write a lovely blog about my mom and make you all think that I had a perfect childhood.  But, that wouldn’t have been the truth.  The truth was that motherhood and my mom didn’t quite get along, and it showed.

I used to stand in front of the Mother’s Day card displays in total frustration reading the syrupy poems they contained.  “You have always been my role model.”  Nope.  “You taught me how to be a woman.”  Um, no.  “I hope I grow up to be just like you.”  Not really, no.

Where were the cards that said:  “You did the best you could with what you had.” Or “Don’t worry, I’m OK in spite of you.”  I usually ended up buying an empty card and writing something generic inside.

My mom hid a lot of pain under a flamboyant exterior.  She had a difficult relationship with her own mother, who had a difficult relationship with HER mother.  But, as I looked back at our family history, I realized something.  Each generation had done their best to do a little bit better than the generation before.  As angry as I was at my mom for her shortcomings, I had to admit that she had improved on what had been given to her as a child.  And, although I gave motherhood my all, I will be the first to admit that my daughter has improved on my best attempts.  And, isn’t that the goal?  To pass on more to your children than was given to you?  If we continue in that direction, maybe someday we’ll get this whole mothering thing right.

At the end of my mom’s life, God gave me a sweet time of healing with her.  I drove her to the doctor’s appointment where she was told that she was dying and had 6 months to live.  Instead of those six months, we ended up getting ten days (a blood clot cut her life even shorter).  But, in those ten days (when she was too sick to cause trouble) we packed in so much love and forgiveness. 

On one of her last days, I cried and told her that I didn’t want her to leave.  I was surprised to realize that I meant it.  We finally had the relationship I had always dreamed of.  The Lord gave this hurting daughter the mom she had always wanted.  And although I only had this gift for 10 days, I cherished it greatly and was so thankful for it.  And, even after eight years I still miss her. 

My mom accepted Christ while she was sick.  “He thinks I’m a crack-up,” she told me with confidence.  And, I smile when I think of the unconditional love she is experiencing for the first time in her life.  Now, she must know what having a perfect parent feels like and that is a beautiful thing.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.