Mother's Day was a few weeks ago in the United States. It's taken me this long to get around to writing about it because I have a love/hate relationship with Mother's Day. The older I get and the more time goes by, the more I lean more toward a hatred of it.
Hey, I am not about presenting fake Hallmark moments. So if what I'm saying irritates you, feel free to skip this post. If my sentiment resonates with you, read on.
Mother's Day is triggering for me. It reminds me of two very painful things: The way my mother failed me, and the way I have failed as a mother.
My mother failed me deeply. She is a malignant narcissist and a dry drunk. She praised me to everyone in public and I would hear her friends crow about how "Your mother has told me so many WONDERFUL things about you!" This comment always stunned me because I never heard those wonderful things said to me at home.
In private, she berated me. She criticized me. She hit me. She called me horrible names without providing a shred of evidence as to how I qualified for these labels. When I shared goals, hopes, and dreams with her, she would sneer and remark, "Oh, you don't want to do THAT."
What was more puzzling was the times she would defend me. Those times were confusing because I thought in my heart of hearts that she hated me. I would hold on to those times she lifted me up... only to drop me as hard as she could again.
The worst, however, was her role in the sexual abuse my father and brother perpetrated against me. She knew all, and not only did nothing to protect me, but defended their behavior while trying to drill into me that I was a willing participant. Who the Hell thinks that of their own daughter? It's nauseating.
I tried for 31 years to work with the relationship, to reason with her. I finally realized she was never going to change the last time I stood up to her and I saw her repeat the exact same cycle of insanity I'd watched her perpetrate, dragging in the entire family to beat me down verbally while she cried in a corner about being a victim. I knew then that I had to sever contact to save my sanity and protect my own family.
Mother's Day is also a trigger because my mother's birthday comes around the same time. So in essence, everyone in the family unit has to bow to the queen matriarch twice in the same week.
But what about honoring your mother and father?
What of it? She may have done nothing worthy of honor as a mother, but I can still honor her by praying for her and not wishing her ill. One definition of honor means to fulfill an obligation or keep an agreement. Praying for an enemy is something Scripture exhorts us to do... and asking God to work in a malicious person's heart in the hopes they may repent someday is honoring that. Nothing in the Bible says we have to have a relationship with our enemies or go bowling with them. We can merely pray for them, without malicious intent on our end.
I wish I could say that her dysfunction disgusted me so much that I came out of it with a firm resolve to never treat my children the way she treated me. Sadly, I did not, and for a very long time. I have spent the past several years breaking the cycle, and my actions came with a heavy price.
My adult daughter has not spoken to me in four years, and her relationship with me prior to then had grown increasingly distant. I have had to work hard to tell my son how wrong I was in the past and that he needs to understand my past behavior is an example of the kind of human being he should never be.
I have failed as a mother. I have to pay that price, and painful as that might be, the right thing to do is accept the consequences and keep reaping what I've sown until I've paid my debt in full.
So when Mother's Day rolls around, I see nothing worth celebrating. Yeah, okay, I'm breaking the cycle of abuse and I protect my children from the monster I had as a mother... but I see those as things I should have always done in the first place.
Discernment and accountability. There are those themes again. I have discerned how I've failed as a mother, how my mother failed me. I have discerned what I need to do to break the cycle because I love my family... and I will take accountability and accept the price for my actions.
For that reason, I don't want flowers. I don't want a card. I don't want a champagne brunch. I want to set things right and pray for restoration in my relationships. That is all I want, and will probably be the only thing I want, for Mother's Day every year.
Okay, and a burger. But only because my husband insists on grilling me something anyway no matter how much of a bitch I might be sometimes, and because he likes to grill.
If you have a good mother, how will you thank her today? If she has failed you, how do you plan to break the cycle in your own life? If you are repeating the cycle, how will you use discernment and accountability to put an end to it? What does honor mean to you? When Mother's Day comes next time, how will you use that day as a time to reflect?