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.

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  1. Mandi posted on 05/08/2014 04:12 PM
    Thank you so much for writing this. I to have ached in front of Mothers Day cards, feeling if I pick this one or that one, it would be a lie... Jesus came for the imperfect, i'am so thankful this includes my mom and I...
    1. Ann posted on 05/09/2014 09:19 AM
      @Mandi Mandi,

      Thank you so much for writing. It can be very lonely standing in front of that card rack, can't it? Somehow, it helps to know that we have sisters out there going through the same thing. May God be with you (and your mom) this Mother's Day!
  2. Cheryl N. posted on 05/10/2014 08:30 PM
    Thank you for your honesty. The ending...was the best! He is in control and knew what the exact circumstances were needed to heal and bring closure. I, too, had a very difficult childhood because of generational sin via my mom, her mom, etc. Yet, I can look back of how The Lord answered my prayers of a teenager for healing and the desire to not pass onto my children what was done to me. He has stopped the cycle of sin/pain due to me cooperating with Him. Always easier said than done.

    Reading your story opened up a doorway in my mind of possible endings for my mom and I and it reminded me that He has the last word. He will bring complete closure in His time....with her salvation,too!
  3. Ann posted on 05/12/2014 01:05 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story. Doesn't it humble you to think that the chain has been broken with you? God is indeed so good. Your kids are blessed to have you.

    I will pray for you and your mom. I know firsthand that the walk you are on is not an easy one.

    Your Sister, Ann
  4. tiffany posted on 05/16/2014 10:59 PM
    Thank you so much for this. My mom and I havent talked to each other for years because of the problems we have with each other and you have opened my eyes to see that she may not have been a good mom to me because she was never taught to be a good mom.
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