Photo by Andre Ouellet on Unsplash
No matter what word you use, Mom, Mother, Mommy, Ma
The word is pregnant with emotion.
For some, it brings back many warm feelings that include
good food, fun vacations, shared experiences, and times of sadness and joy mixed together.
But for many, it includes mostly hurt and pain, harsh words, loneliness, and
I suspect most of us fall into a middle ground. We have happy memories of our childhoods
mixed with painful ones as well. It takes time and discipline to remember the happy times.
For years, I had more of a Pollyanna approach to my childhood memories. When difficult memories came up, I would talk myself out of them and try to be philosophical about it. I would tell myself, “It could have been much worse. It wasn’t as bad as ___.” (Like the woman in this story who found reconciliation with her mom.)
Coming to terms with our childhood in realistic ways, not pretend, is important! Only GOD can help us be honest about this.
But in my 40’s I was in a car accident that resulted in chronic head and neck pain. Part of the process of working through that pain resulted in counseling. It was a “gift” I didn’t realize I needed. Despite the fact that I had parents who were basically good parents, they were flawed too…just as I was (and am) a flawed parent.
I had to come to terms with the pain I suffered as a result of some of their decisions that caused me pain because that pain was affecting me physically at that point! stop
Yes, I had had a car accident with resulting damage to my neck. But the damage was not as severe as the pain I was experiencing. The pain was coming from somewhere else! As I talked to my counselor and defended my parents in certain situations. One day she stopped.
“Your oldest daughter is the age you were when some of this happened. How would you feel if she were treated this way?” Immediately, I became livid! The appropriate anger I had been pushing down all those years, came up as I responded appropriately for the first time! Tears flowed as well. Somehow, seeing the treatment I had gone through as a bystander rather than as myself, gave me a better perspective.
Our Moms lived stressful lives…and so do we…at least at certain periods of our lives. We can’t focus on parenting all the time. Because of that, we will fail.
My parents were normal Christian parents who lived very stressful lives for all of my childhood. Frequently they were in jobs where they weren’t paid what they were promised (one year it was nothing despite the promise of a salary after 3 years of working in a country church that didn’t pay anything except provide housing and lots of food from farmers) or were often underpaid for the work they did. They trusted that everyone was as honest as they were! They were pioneers. Their children were not priorities.
By the time they came home, they were depleted. On top of that, my mother was depressed most of her life and antidepressants weren’t available like they are today. Working outside the home helped her. Counseling was not available like it is today and they didn’t have the money. Vacations were not affordable and were considered luxuries. Our vacations were spent getting degrees for my parents. They were a break for us in many ways, but not really vacations!
The blessings we had were that the Bible and what it had to say was elevated in our home…sort of. It wasn’t applied to relationships, reconciliation, anger management or those kinds of things. Which basically knocks out a good portion of the New Testament! There was a lot of yelling. No apologizing. A huge amount of resentment was carried around by all of us. For the most part, we learned that it just wasn’t wise to say what you thought, particularly if it was negative. Other than that, the Bible and its truth was elevated. (You see why I said sort-of.)
The boarding school I attended reinforced all the negative things I learned at home and didn’t build on much of the positive. I had to unlearn all of that when I married…a cheerful, positive, upbeat guy!
Here are the many positives I gained from my home…especially from my mom!
- I learned a very strong work ethic (from both parents) you stick with what you promise to do because you are doing it for GOD not for money!
- I learned to love music…it permeated our home! My mom played the piano, violin and sang. (She was a music major in college.) She was down on herself because she didn’t keep up on the violin! We always had a piano in our home. I took some piano lessons here and there, but learned a lot on my own by playing from hymnbooks. The opportunity to calm myself down when I was sad or angry was great when playing the piano. My dad loved to sing and pretend to lead orchestras that played on records! They also sang duets for fun and occasionally in public.
- My mom sewed. She made most of her clothes as well as ours. I learned to sew from her as well as at the Singer store. I have loved sewing ever since!
- I learned to love GOD’s Word from my mom. Her mother was involved in Bible studies when my mom was very young, that involved memorizing the book they studied that year! She would quote them aloud to my mom (starting at age 4) as she was memorizing them. My mom remembered large portions of those books: Hebrews, Colossians, Ephesians for sure! I didn’t always have the love she did in the same way, but as time went on and I finally understood the point of the Bible (not a rule book!), it became much more alive to me and less preachy. I started to see how it hung together and how each part of it showed me different things about GOD. Then I came to love it more. But that was after I left home and after I attended Bible College. I had to get away from all the negativity of rules, etc. to see the full picture.
- I also learned about our family history from my mom...both sides of our family! My dad had little idea of his family history. But my mom kept up with his side of the family as well through my grandmother (his mom) and through lots of letter writing. I often wonder about different people I knew through her…either relatives or friends, and realize she is not around for me to ask. She was a great letter writer and kept up with loads of people all over the world!
So all that to say, Mom is a word pregnant with emotion and memories isn’t it? For most of us, it is quite a mix.
I was going to be a better mom, maybe even the perfect mom! But weariness overtook me.
When I started out as a mom, I was going to do everything right. I was going to be the perfect Mom, unlike mine. I read books all the time. Many were helpful for sure. I also watched the way other women in my churches mothered and learned from them. I think I avoided some of the mistakes of my childhood. But I also made plenty of mistakes along the way!
There is no perfect Mom. If you are a mom, get that in your head right now. Your child doesn’t need a perfect Mom. Your child needs someone who will admit she fails when she does (I didn’t do that often enough!) and help them learn to do it early as well. It is also a time when you and your husband can teach them early to go to Jesus together to be forgiven for your failures…both yours and theirs. It is one of the best gifts you can give them for the years ahead…that they don’t have to be alone with their sin and guilt!There is no perfect Mom. Your child doesn't need a perfect Mom but one who admits she needs Jesus! Click To Tweet
And if you are a Mom who has totally blown it, you can still go to Jesus. He is in the business of forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s the whole reason He came to earth!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
All this is from God,
who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
God making his appeal through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.II Corinthians 5:17-21In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
which he lavished upon us,
in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose,
which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.
Grieving and gratitude don’t seem like they fit together, but they do. Grief comes with life because life isn’t perfect. As you shared your story, I was reminded of helpful counseling that led me to work through my less-than-perfect past. I’m reminded, too, that not all was bad. For the good, I’m thankful. I’m so glad God is able to redeem it all.
so true cheryl. it definitely takes time to get to the point where you can grieve and also have gratitude. only GOD can bring that process to pass…over a long period of time.
And if you are a Mom who has totally blown it, you can still go to Jesus. He is in the business of forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s the whole reason He came to earth!<—-Your final bold statement really brought it home! I love this post and graphic! I'm impressed by your blog so much. My mom could never write/create like this, and she is your age roughly?! I consider you a peer in the writing circle of FMF, and I'm grateful to have your wise words to read. I've been in counseling in my adult 20s and 30s, and it has brought up the importance of family in the past and present. It is insightful to discuss things with an objective non-family member.
I hope you continue to discuss things with us via the blog and chat with Christ via prayer and Bible reading. I think that is what most of us FMF writers do. I am sadly missing this year's gathering. I have many other vacations though that we are looking forward to. Hope to write about those and share pics via the blog! Almost summer! Yeah! Our kids have 8 more school days. I know you know how exciting that is for kids, teachers, and parents!
i’m so glad you stopped by jennifer:) thanks for the lovely compliment…”i consider you a peer in the writing circle of FMF.” it is words like that, that keep me writing. that was what motivated me to start at an advanced age 10 years ago! i had never read a blog before then and didn’t know # was called a hashtag:) a lot has changed since then for sure! I kept reading blogs and saw that no one who had gone through the gamut of raising a family was writing back then…and the advice was often very short-sighted…and topics were left out that needed to be discussed.i have no illusions that i am GOD’s gift to the blogging world, but i think i have things to say that no one else talks about. sadly, i’m not very concise.
i will also miss the retreat this year as well. i’ll bet it will be great. the 2 speakers should be wonderful:) have a great summer!
Thanks for sharing, Martha. Very interesting to read about the parenting of Christians in ministry in that era and compare experiences. I believe your parents were close in age to my own.
One big benefit to having children of my own was the humbling revelation to me that I continually fell so far short of the perfect parent I thought I would be.
Every year I live, and I am pushing 60, I see my mother with more grace, less judgment, and more admiration. What joy it will be to see and know her in heaven without the baggage we both carried.
i think that was the part i found so difficult. i started on the parenting journey with such good intentions. then the weariness of long nites and the weariness of my body at times, caught up with me. some days, we moms just don’t have the “want to” to do the right thing. it is humbling to become a mom for sure! we learn how hard the job is…and how much we need Jesus to love our kids well…and impossible job!
so glad you stopped by kay:) i always love your comments.
Thank you so much.
For some reason I am no longer getting an email letting me know when you have responded to a comment I made. I went back to the post about Miriam and Julie yesterday and found that you had responded.
I wonder if this is my issue, that I inadvertently unchecked a box somewhere. I can’t find anything on this page to check to say that I want an email letting me know when my comment has a reply.
i doubt it is you kay. i had a major issue on my blog and had to get my blog back up. i couldn’t remember all my plug-ins and doo-hickies and it hasn’t been quite the same since:( i’ll look around when i get a chance and see what i had that was doing that for me. sorry for the inconvenience. thanks for letting me know.
❤️ this: “Your child doesn’t need a perfect Mom. Your child needs someone who will admit she fails when she does (I didn’t do that often enough!) and help them learn to do it early as well.” So important for building a culture of honour and respect in the home. Thx for the reminder, Martha.
Happy Mother’s Day! 💐
Shauna (your neighbour in FMF#54 today)
i’m glad you stopped by shauna:) glad you enjoyed your visit. thanks for the kind words.
Even though, you had a hard childhood. You learned some great things from your mom too. Great post!
that’s the weird thing tara. many people would look at my childhood and say it wasn’t a bad childhood. i think it works that way for a lot of people. and we often pretend that everything was great. i did for a very long time. the reality was that there were some good things and some hard things. we, as christians have the resources to be honest about our past and face the reality of our life situation including forgiving those who have hurt us and seeking forgiveness from those we have offended.
dealing with our past is not easy and it involves facing up to hard facts. but until we do, it will be difficult for us to move forward into the future.
YES! YES!!! And YES!!!! “There is no perfect Mom. If you are a mom, get that in your head right now. Your child doesn’t need a perfect Mom. And if you are a Mom who has totally blown it, you can still go to Jesus. He is in the business of forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s the whole reason He came to earth!”
I am a living testimony to those the last 2 sentences! There were years where I was a hormonal mess. I blew it! Praise God he redeemed those years! Repentance and forgiveness are powerful.
Sadly my mother doesn’t know the word sorry nor does she know how to accept responsibility for her part in anything. If she did things between us might have been a bit different.
Have a wonderful mother’s day friend!
you too christy:) enjoy a great day with your family! we were in st. louis last weekend with one daughter and family and are here this weekend with another one and their family:) we’ll head out to WA later this summer.
Martha, that you were able to describe the negative and still see the positive is just awesome. Thank you for this gift.
that is the gift of age and experience andrew:) i guess i learned it from my own failures as well:( blessings!