Did you have a perfect mother? I had a good mother; however, I wouldn’t say “perfect”. It is not easy to raise a child born with serious disabilities; especially in the 1960s. The Internet was a long way from being useful and you can forget about manuals. For my mother and father, it was a definite challenge. Yes, we did zigged when we should have zagged!
How about you? It may be that you were not born with physical limitations; however, you have your own set of issues. My mother was not perfect. She had a very sharp tongue and suffered from excessive anxiety. I was the perfect son for her. I hope you’re picking up on the sarcasm.
From my perspective, it was no picnic! My mother was very critical and quick to remind me, of past failures. I grew frustrated with her nagging and I did not know what to do. My only tool was to argue back, at her. Though frustrating, I did love my mother.
Did you notice the past tense used in the above paragraphs? My mother passed away, a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to experience a healed relationship with my mother. I’d like to share how God healed my heart and helped healed my relationship, before it’s too late.
I know that Mother’s Day has passed and a blog post honoring mothers and encouraging healing in the relationships between mother and child has been on my mind. The idea for this blog post did not appear totally out of the blue. A couple of years ago, I saw a strange comment made on a YouTube channel.
Why was the comment strange and antagonistic towards the celebration of moms on Mother’s Day? The YouTuber and I had arrived at the same basic conclusion. The young man is suffering from a wound in his relationship with his mother. For me, it is a reminder that many people do not have a good relationship, with their parents.
Though my focus is on mothers, you can apply what follows to fathers. I would like to share my story of healing as it may be of help to you. Here’s my story and it needs to start with my mother.
Her father served in the merchant Marines, during World War II. My mother was born in 1941 and he was shipped ou, shortly after her birth. Like many servicemen, my grandfather did not get to see his two little children until he came back in 1946 or ’47. His wife, a strong willed devout Catholic had the sole job of caring for her two children. Not fun!
Grandpa Alfred was a different man, when he came home. For some reasons, he suffered from depression and developed a serious drinking habit. I, for one respect my grandmother for staying with the marriage. I’m sure that it wasn’t easy to raise two young children and deal with a depressed drunk.
I don’t think Grandma Lorraine knew about Alcoholic Anonymous or in a position to ask for help. Though I do sound sympathetic, I am not ignoring the very real fact that she was no saint. Like my mother, she was a very strong and dominant woman. She had no problem with speaking her mind.
Sadly my mother’s home life was riddled with conflicts between her parents. I am proud of my mother choosing to stay away from alcohol, for the most part. It was in response to what she saw in her father. He was a weak role model and in need of deliverance. He needed more than saying goodbye to the bottle. My grandfather needed to deal with his inner demons.
As I pointed out, our parents are not perfect. They sometimes pick up bad tools from their parents. My mother picked up some unhealthy ideas from a mother who had a serious problem on her hands. An alcoholic husband is not fun, in any age. I am certain that it was very frustrating for Grandma Lorraine.
When it comes to frustration, it is very easy to take out our frustrations on our spouses or children. Grandma Lorraine would be correct in saying “The problem is my husband”. However, verbally chastising your husband is not a winning solution. Funny thing is, she lived in New Jersey and a possible help was not far away.
Have you ever heard of a place called America’s Keswick? They’re located in Whiting, NJ and I knew it, not! They are not the only source of help. Today, there is a much wider array of help for people in my mom’s parents’ situation. Check this link for a list of groups for families of alcoholics: Click here for list of support groups.
As for my mother, she was too young to understand what she is seeing. She just did not liked it and ran away. She wanted to get away from the constant conflicts experienced at home. Living on the streets of Newark is not an easy thing; especially for a young woman. In time, she met my father, ’62.
My mother was happy to have my dad, as a husband. He had served in the Marine and had a very strong family. Sadly, there is an unfortunate truth that bears mentioning and it plays into the problems that I had. My mother did not run away, emptyhanded. She brought with her, some very unwanted baggages.
My mother was very critical and she did not have a whole lot of patience. It also did not help that she was prone to anxiety. To compensate, she had a strong need to control. I’ll let you figure out where she learned these things.
Unfortunately, she had a son that’s very much like her husband. He’s strong willed, determined and can be opinionated. He had no problem arguing with her. No,, I didn’t let my disabilities stop me and she supported this idea. I was the one thing that she didn’t expect.
Yes, I am very much like my father. He definitely loved to argue and no problem speaking his mind. It’s a good thing that I inherited that trait. Do you recall what I said about our parents learning unhealthy skill sets when they were young? My mother was no exception and she didn’t see the harm that a critical tongue could have.
She thought that she was helping me, with reminders of past mistakes. Her anxiety kept her from seeing that I would learn and grow. Yes, I do have a severe hearing loss and very poor eyesight. Though it did have an impact, it didn’t stop my ability to learn.
You are likely reading this blog post and thinking that I am sympathetic; however, it is far from where I started. Growing up, I was very frustrated with her and it seems that she was trying to control me. Her anxiety was driving me, nuts! In many ways, I actually resented my mother because of this.
It would be years before I’d get some very needed tools, to help in the healing process. For one, I had taken a few psychology classes that would provide some needed insights into what’s happening. Though I did not know it, God was orchestrating events and directing my steps towards those people, who’d be a great help.
Why did I take those psychology courses? I felt like something was wrong with me. If I could unravel it then I could do something. In time, I would encounter help from a variety of Christian books: Boundaries, How To Win Friends and Influence Ohers, Bondage Breakers, Battlefield of the Mind and yes, the Bible.
These resources formed the foundation for one key step. I needed to forgive my mother. Her intentions were good; however, her methods were the problem. God is the one who spoke this truth into my heart and helped me, in forgiving my mother. That’s just one step; there are two more steps.
It’s one thing to say, “Yes Father, I do forgive my parents.” It is a different matter to confront one’s mother. I, also needed to ask her to forgive me. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit did a work on my heart and helped in teaching me, a different way to confront my mother. It is good that my dad’s mother confronted me, on the need for tact.
Years later, I’d read a book by Dale Carnegie and learn how to use tact. It also help that I’d be confronted on saying “I forgive my mother” because God used it to bring about healing in my heart. Yes, forgiveness is that powerful and it is not always overnight. Keep at it!
Yes, I did need to confront my mother and I did need to ask for forgiveness. It was not easy because I only saw my own wounds. I did not take into account that the wounding was a two way street. It’s very likely you have a different situation than I. I’d encourage you to seek God, the Father and ask for His direction.
Let God direct you; as he knows the situation better than me. For the records, I am not opposed to getting counseling on this. Even I needed counseling and guidance. In fact, it is this guidance that led to a letter that I sent to my mother. Yes, I needed to forgive her; however, I was pretty rough on her. It wasn’t right. One wrong doesn’t justify the other.
What about the third step? How do you supposed that I learned all the above information and gained an understanding of my mother? This understanding helped in talking with her about her methods. Like any good mother, she never intended to hurt me. I surprised my mother by using a tone of firm gentleness; as opposed to the abrasive tactics of my earlier years.
It is truly the grace of God that I had the opportunity to enjoy my mother and have good memories of her. It’s is God’s grace that I got to see a variety of healing in both person’s hearts. Jesus can do the same thing for you; as he did for me. Why? It’s because God loves you and he can help you.
I am thankful that this happened before my mother passed away. It would not have been easy when she was seriously ill because of dementia. Do not wait! Enjoy your mother while you can! If you are hurting than ask Jesus to help you with the needed healing. It may well start with forgiveness.